E-commerce stores have so many repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Generally, those tasks impact the management team from focusing on growth strategic activities. Thus, affecting the store’s ability to be profitable. Hence, to make money with your e-commerce business you can either automate or outsource those tasks. So, if like many you want to streamline your e-commerce fully or partly, here a few things to consider.
Step 1: Map out your e-commerce business.
This activity will help you visualize your entire business flow. Generally, they are two business flows in most e-commerce stores.
The first one starts with the final product in the hand of a fully satisfied customer then you go backward.
For instance, your customers just received a tee-shirt they ordered on your e-commerce store. Map out all the steps your customer when through to receive that specific tee-shirt.
Then evaluate which process to outsource or automate.
For example, you can use a chat bot to automate FAQ questions to answer your customer concerns.
You can also, set up a label tracking system to help your customers track their package in real-time from picking, packaging, to shipping the idea.
The second e-commerce flow goes from shipping then you go backward.
Here we are talking about all the activities involve in fulfillment such as picking products, packaging products, receiving inventories, loading inventories in the bins, printing shipping labels, and shipping the products.
Later, ask yourself which activity you can automate? and how would it work? It is important to make sure everything is adapted to your business reality.
As an illustration, you can streamline your fulfillment and shipping by contracting a fulfillment center.
Step 2: Choose your options: outsourcing or automation.
You can either choose to automate or you can decide to outsource all the bottleneck process you have identified. Actually, the goal is to free some space so you and your team can focus on improving your offerings.
These are some examples of automation: chatbot, smart label, QR code, shipping label, conveyor, vendor machine.
I personally find vendor machine technology very interesting for those looking forward to automating their e-commerce store. Nevertheless, you will require good software integration, functioning hardware, and an excellent maintenance team in place with basic knowledge of robotics.
On the other side you can choose to choose to outsource like perhaps a vast majority of online businesses. You have many options available, you can choose to open a store on a marketplace website that is integrated with a fulfilment center. Thus outsourcing the vast majority of your business. You can also outsource the manufacturing of your products and have the finish product ship directly to the fulfilment center.
Nonetheless, your option depends on the size of your e-commerce, your inventory level and how much control you might want to have over all your business processes.
Step 3: Advantage
It is extremely important as business owner not to be absorbed by the day-to-day operations of your business. If your daily operations occupy more than 20% of your time, then you are doing something wrong. That is because, you must focus on growing and expand your business from a strategic standpoint.
Surely, it can be challenging for small size e-commerce businesses with limited financial resources. That is why it is important to build your ecosystem by networking, strengthen strategic partnerships and spend more time on growth activities rather than operational activities.