Running an ecommerce business is no walk in the park.
On any given day, you have a mile-long to-do list — from updating product pages to shipping out orders, you are on a never-ending hamster wheel of tasks.
Operational tasks are necessary but also tedious, repetitive, and can seriously bog down your day. Processing orders and manually entering customer data into a spreadsheet can feel like about a time warp.
After all that, how do you find the time for the tasks that are required to scale your business? Unfortunately, they’re often pushed to the wayside to help keep your head above water and your business afloat.
So, it’s time to make a change. As the saying goes, time is our most valuable non-renewable resource.
Thanks to ecommerce inventory management software and accounting automation, there’s no reason to keep doing these menial ecommerce tasks. There are faster and more efficient ways for you to get them done.
Automation is the name of the game. And the best news of all, you don’t even need to know how to code. Phew.
In this guide, we’ll point out some of the common ecommerce tasks that take up too much time in your day and share how automation can help streamline your business to run more smoothly.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Processing Individual Orders
Order processing is one of the most time-consuming tasks in ecommerce.
When you first started, you could get away with manually processing orders as they rolled in.
After all, it was an exhilarating feeling to see the notification for your first, twentieth, or even fiftieth purchase order.
But as you scale, it’s nearly impossible to process thousands of individual orders independently.
Order processing involves taking orders from customers, fulfilling them, and tracking their progress through delivery. It can be a cumbersome and lengthy process that involves multiple steps.
Logging in to every sales channel can get tiring quickly, so a streamlined way for your team members to access information about orders is essential.
Here are a few ways to streamline your order processing and make sure your business is running smoothly:
- Use software that integrates with your current system
- Integrate with third-party services, like online payment processors or shipping providers
- Send automated email confirmations when an order ships
- Create and use a packing list template to share with your team
- Improve customer service with chatbots
- Track inventory levels in real-time using inventory management software
2. Updating Your Books
Keeping your books up to date is essential to running a successful business.
You may think it’s just a matter of entering incoming payments into a spreadsheet for tracking expenses from your bank account. But manual accounting requires extensive data entry, which is extremely time-consuming and prone to human error.
75% of businesses lose 5–7 full days of work every month on bookkeeping. That’s an incredible amount of time you could spend elsewhere to grow your business.
Save that time by investing in accounting automation software that connects with your sales channels and integrates with QuickBooks.
Keeping your books up-to-date tracks how your business performs in real-time and helps you make strategic decisions about where to focus your time and effort moving forward.
Accounting reports shed light on where money is coming in or going out over time, which is crucial for tracking the success of your business model.
And most notably, when it comes down to taxes — having accurate records allows you to keep track of purchases made throughout the year without having any trouble proving them later.
Preparation makes filing taxes much easier because all information will be readily available in one place during tax season; otherwise, there’d be some guesswork involved as well as paying someone else for their services for doing so instead.
3. Counting Inventory
Counting inventory by hand is nearly impossible.
With sales constantly going out the door and some returns coming back in, you’ll drive yourself crazy by trying to get an accurate count with so many moving parts.
By the time you finish counting every piece of inventory, likely, your number has already changed. All it takes is one sale, and your inventory count is already stale.
The inventory counting issue is only magnified when selling via multiple channels.
Don’t fret. There are plenty of solutions available. For example, an ecommerce inventory management software keeps you updated and in sync across channels and stock locations.
A good ecommerce inventory management software checks the details of each product you sell, including the price and quantity available. It’ll automatically track your sales history and calculate how much stock you need to order to meet demand.
Some additional benefits of implementing an ecommerce inventory management software include:
- Stock control: An ecommerce inventory management system allows you to track your stocks easily so that no item runs out unexpectedly or remains unsold for too long.
- Easy reporting: You can generate reports by category or search term, which enables you to see which items sell well together or which ones don’t sell well at all.
4. Generating Shipping Labels
Printing out and labeling each package by hand can take hours — sometimes even days — depending on how many orders are in your queue.
Whether printing them yourself or using a label provider, the process is still time-consuming and tedious.
And that is even before transporting everything to the post office or UPS store for shipping. Talk about a nightmare.
One of the most important things you can do when running an ecommerce business is to automate your fulfillment process as much as possible.
It’s all about saving time and money. Here are some automation solutions:
- Shipping management system: This is likely your best option if you have a physical warehouse and handle many orders. These services offer the ability to manage all aspects of your shipping, including creating labels and printing them at scale.
- Shipping API: If you’re using Shopify, specific APIs may be available for third-party services that can help simplify your workflow and save time on manual tasks like generating labels. APIs require more technical knowledge than other options, but can save time and money in the long run if done correctly.
- Third-party labeling service: Stamps.com offers an easy way to print labels without worrying about managing inventory, shipping rates, or tracking numbers. And you only pay based on how many packages they ship.
5. Uploading New Products
Expanding your catalog is exciting. Selling the latest and greatest technology or trends is an excellent way to increase revenue.
However, adding new product listings to your sales channels can take a long time. Think about all of the product photos, videos, and product descriptions you have to update manually.
The last thing you want is a new technology to be obsolete by the time you finally get around to updating the product offerings across all platforms.
That might be an exaggeration, but you get the point. It can be time-consuming if you don’t have the right tools.
From product pages to ordering workflows, having an optimized website with a clean design will help your ecommerce business long-term.
Still not sure where to focus? You can get some inspiration from websites in your niche, look at ecommerce landing pages and SaaS examples — it never hurts to check out what your competitors are doing to understand what is working and what isn’t.
Now that you have a design idea in mind for your new website, use these tips to save time on updating product details when new products arrive:
- Use free AI writing tools to help generate new product names and descriptions in seconds
- Use a website builder to save time when creating your website from scratch. There are many easy-to-use options that enable you to build a website in hours instead of days.
- Invest in an ecommerce automation tool that manages all of your product data in one place, allows you to import product details to multiple marketplaces, and automatically updates descriptions with just one click
When you start an ecommerce business from the ground up, it can be difficult to delegate and give up control of a process you created.
And maybe that process was the best way to do it at the start. But now that you’ve scaled your business, there’s no way to keep up using the current method.
Time is money. So, stop spending your day on mundane tasks that can take software 30 seconds to complete.
Think about how many hours per day that could save you? Now you finally have the time to implement product-led sales strategies to increase customer lifetime, satisfaction, and loyalty. After all, sales are the number one way to grow a business. Without spending time on the revenue-generating side of things, you severely limit the amount of growth your business can achieve.
What are you waiting for? Invest in the efficiency of your ecommerce business today.
Time is of the essence.By guest contributor Shane Barker