If you’re still unsure what automation can do for you, consider this: 53% of workers say it can save them up to two hours a day. Meanwhile, 78% of business leaders in the same WorkMarket report say automation can save up to three work hours a day.
At a minimum, employees say small business automation could save six work weeks per year. Imagine what you and your team could accomplish with that much time per year.
Many small sellers aren’t aware of the various small business automation tools available today. There are dozens of ways to integrate automation into your small business, from sales, marketing, and customer service to ecommerce, operations, and accounting.
What are the benefits of small business automation tools?
Small business automation uses technology and software to streamline and automate repetitive or time-consuming activities with minimal human intervention.
Small business automation software can help an organization operate more efficiently, save time and money, deliver better customer experiences, and lay the foundation for sustainable growth.
First and foremost, automation eliminates manual and repetitive tasks, allowing your team to accomplish more in less time. With automated accounting tools, employees can focus on more value-added activities, and your small business can increase productivity without necessarily hiring more staff.
In addition, by automating certain processes, your organization can reduce costs associated with human error. Automation reduces the risk of costly mistakes and rework, ultimately saving money for the business. Human error costs companies millions of dollars annually and can frustrate customers, leading to even more hidden costs.
You can use automation to improve the customer experience directly. Small businesses can provide quicker response times, personalized interactions, and efficient handling of customer inquiries.
Some automated systems can handle customer service requests, process orders, and provide support around the clock, ensuring that customers receive timely and consistent service.
Finally, automation gives small businesses the tools and insights to scale sustainably. Automated systems can handle increased volumes of transactions, data, and customer interactions without sacrificing quality or efficiency.
As your business grows, automation software can use customer data to deliver valuable insight into customer behavior and market trends.
Examples of small business automation
Invoicing, sales, and marketing are all areas where automation can serve your business well. Here are some examples of ways in which you can use automation throughout your business operations:
- Send email marketing campaigns to reach a wider audience and generate more leads automatically.
- Manage your social media accounts with automated posting, stay connected with your customers, and promote your products or services.
- Track ecommerce sales and inventory, as well as make better decisions about pricing and marketing.
- Manage your finances, stay on top of expenses, and make sure the business is profitable.
Small business automation starts with the right strategy. While automation can deliver tons of benefits, it takes careful planning and consideration to determine where to integrate automation software into your business.
What is the first step in developing an automation strategy?
Developing a business automation strategy is the first step in determining if you're ready to automate. A business automation strategy outlines how a company will implement automation technologies and tools to streamline and optimize its operations. Start by identifying processes and tasks that you can automate.
1. Identify the right processes to automate
Look for tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, error-prone, or require manual data entry. Also, consider processes that involve multiple systems or departments and could benefit from integration and workflow automation. These are the areas that are the best candidates for automation.
2. Select the right automation tools
There are many popular tools available to automate your small business. The right tool for you will depend on the specific processes you want to automate.
Consider both off-the-shelf solutions and custom-built options. Pay attention to factors such as ease of use, scalability, compatibility with existing systems, and support services.
3. Implement the small business automation software
Once you have selected the right automation tools, you need to implement them in a way that is efficient and effective. Consider starting small and only trying to automate a few things at a time.
Start with a few key processes and then build on your success. You may need to offer training to show employees how to use the tools or even consider changing your business processes.
4. Track your progress
Once the automation is in place, you need to monitor it to make sure it works. Track key performance indicators such as productivity, cost savings, error rates, customer satisfaction, and process cycle times.
Regularly review and analyze the data to assess the impact of automation on your business objectives.
What are the top tools available for small business automation?
You can implement small business automation across many business functions. There are a few areas where you should consider exploring small business automation software.
Ecommerce automation software connects storefronts, online marketplaces, ecommerce platform accounts, shipping tools, and more with accounting solutions like QuickBooks.
Once you connect these essential business platforms, you can schedule the automation solution to sync order details, inventory, and more between them.
Accounting is an area ripe for automation, especially in ecommerce. Accounting automation uses machine learning and other complex technologies to perform traditional accounting tasks such as syncing transactions, sorting expenses, validating data, and balancing accounts.
It replaces repeatable and mundane tasks, allowing accountants and finance officers to focus on planning and strategy.
Elsewhere, marketing automation software can help optimize everything from email marketing to social media marketing to customer relationship management (CRM).
There are several ways to integrate marketing automation tools into your marketing practices.
- Reduce cart abandonment rates and improve email open and conversion rates with automated email sequencing, personalized messaging, automated responses, and segmentation based on customer behavior.
- Automate areas of the sales process with tools that support lead management, contact tracking, sales pipeline management, email marketing automation, and customer support ticketing.
- Run your social media accounts with tools that automate posting across multiple platforms, track engagement, and analyze performance across various platforms.
- Improve customer support with automated ticket management, live chat, knowledge base creation, and self-service options.
Finally, there are plenty of small business automation solutions, like Zapier, for example, that can help your team streamline workflows and work more efficiently. Look for software solutions that:
- Automate project planning, task management, collaboration, and progress tracking.
- Automate workflows across different apps and systems and trigger actions based on specific events or conditions.
- Automate HR processes such as employee onboarding, time tracking, payroll management, and performance reviews.
Grow your business with Webgility automation software
Webgility's automation features can do more than sync and post your online orders to QuickBooks. It's best suited for multichannel business needs and makes it easy to automate the flow of order details from your stores to QuickBooks and product, service, and pricing information from QuickBooks to your stores.
Every small business owner managing many online storefronts, products, and product variants can benefit from Webgility's ability to update inventory counts and prices, add new products and services, and dive into business analytics like profitability and sales performance for many stores at once — and in one place.
At the end of the day, Webgility is a powerful automation tool that can make it easier for small businesses to expand into new channels, knowing they don't have to add new products and SKUs to new channels entirely by hand. Use automation tools to save time and take care of your small business needs.