‘Automation’ is one of the youngest terms coined not more than 60 years ago. And yet, in this short span of time, it has developed rapidly and have become an integral part of our daily lives.
It was first coined by Ford Executive Vice President, Delmar S. Harder, in the late 1940s, “referring to the movement of automotive parts from one machine to the next in the manufacturing process.” This enabled Ford to cut down the time it took for assembling the cars from 12 hours to mere one and a half hours.
Initially, people opined that automation would reduce wage earners to mere slave laborers and result into a great economic depression worse than the ‘30s. However, over the years as automation’s application increased it was clear that man is gradually becoming automation’s master rather than its slave.
We are all surrounded by various automations in our day to day life. Using thermostat to run the furnace or air conditioner before arriving at home, commanding Alexa to do multiple routine tasks like making a grocery list, playing our favorite songs, etc, auto-pay the utility bills, use phone apps for ordering food, shopping, banking etc., programmable coffee-makers etc. All of these have made our lives easy, quick and convenient.
Similarly, automations can make running a business easy, quick and convenient, especially for the eCommerce entrepreneurs. Almost all eCommerce related tasks can now be automated by incorporating several accounting software, shipping software, inventory and warehouse management software in your business. Since routine tasks can now be automated, eCommerce entrepreneurs now stand a chance to maintain a better work-life balance.
but don't just believe me, check out what the entrepreneurs have to say....
Real people sharing real experiences on using Automation
Some of the small to medium scale entrepreneurs shared their experiences on using automation and how it has helped them to earn more money while gaining more ‘me time’ for themselves. Here’s what they have to say:
Opinion from entertainment streaming company
According to Jonathan Rodriguez, President & Chief Executive Officer at BitMar, “I automate everything, the more automation, the better my work-life balance. All forms of automation add to more free time.I would highlight our self-service customer support center. It turns out that our users prefer to not even have to connect with other humans, in order to resolve their technical issues. They prefer to read the already-reported solution, to whatever the issue in question may be, and move on with their lives.”
Opinion from premium beauty and personal care products company
Nate Masterson, CMO for Maple Holistics, “You can save yourself a great deal of time and money by using automated accounting software such as Quickbooks or Xero to help you set up automated payments to relative accounts, clients or recurring expenses as well as reduce the amount of internal red tape regarding these procedures.”
He further added, “This means that you can also reduce the cost of your internal processes as you need fewer employees to manage a large number of accounts and can instead focus more on developing strategies to reduce costs or negotiating better long-term agreements with your various accounts rather than having to have a large number of employees to cope with a large amount of otherwise menial administrative tasks in the accounts department.”
Opinion from automated accounting software company
Taylor Gilliam, a content specialist at Webgility commented, “For online sellers, time management is a major challenge because small and midsize businesses have fewer resources to accomplish tasks. This is why automation is key to maintaining smooth, accurate operations. In particular, accounting automation saves eCommerce retailers an average of 50 hours every month because it eliminates the need for manual data entry and inventory management. With more free time, sellers can better achieve a work-life balance and invest in new strategies to grow their businesses.”
Opinion from team collaboration software tools company
Olga Mykhoparkina is a Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty opined that,
“One of the most common ways for e-commerce store owners to automate some of their processes has to do with marketing funnels. For example, you can hook up a lead generation form on your website where potential customers leave their emails. The email then goes to Zapier and from there, to your dedicated email service provider (e.g. Mailchimp), and then to a specific mailing list. From there on - they will receive automatic updates from your website. It takes a few minutes to set up and it could bring in tons of additional revenue as time goes by."
These opinions clearly indicates that automation is proving to be a businessman’s best friend rather than making man a slave to it. It not only improves the business efficiency it also allows the business owners to free up their precious time. In today’s times, time is money and anything that helps save time is certainly worth it.
Areas in which eCommerce merchant can use automation(s)
Automation was first introduced in the marketing field wherein you simply had to automate sending out your emails to prospective buyers with special offers and discounts. For eg. sending out a welcome email to your customers as soon as they register on your portal, announcing great holiday offers on buying things from your portal, etc.
However, with the passage of time, automation isn’t just limited to this. Now-a-days various eCommerce business tasks can be automated using several different tools.
Here are some of the tasks that can be automated easily with the right eCommerce automation tools:
- Receive orders from multiple channels and start executing them automatically on the software
- Auto update the order details
- Create Picking and Packing list
- Track your inventory accurately by sitting at your desk
- Omnichannel inventory management
- Manage inventory across multi-channels
- Keep inventory count up to date across multi-channels
- Low stock alerts when you’re about to run out-of-stock for your products
- Generate Invoices automatically when the customer makes the payment and orders the product from your portal
- Dropshipping automation is a boon for dropshipper because you can automatically send the orders you receive from your customers directly to the supplier from the system
- Buy shipping labels from multiple shipping providers automatically. For eg. set a rule to buy shipping labels from FedEx when it has the lowest prices for shipping within U.S.A.
- Print shipping labels as and when required automatically by setting a business rule
- Track shipments automatically
- Integrate with eCommerce channels, shipping partners, accounting software and import/export data automatically with automated rules
Set an automation in 3 easy steps
However, there are plenty of other activities that can be done using automation. It is usually easy to set up automation and can be done in 3 simple steps.
- Set a trigger for a particular task that you wish to accomplish
- Set a condition under which the task begins to run.
- Set an action corresponding to the condition.
How it will impact my work/life balance?
A right eCommerce automation solution will result in reducing the working hours of a human almost by half.
Whether it is generating invoices for the customers, or preparing picking and packing list for the warehouse, or preparing shipping labels - automation can manage it all on behalf of your staff once the business rules are set in your system.
This frees up their time that can be devoted to other important tasks for growing your business or spending quality time with family and friends.
Since the work is automatically done one the rules are set, you can spare yourself from doing the same task day-in and day-out. Setting up automations is just one time effort and then you can simply live your life while the system works on behalf of you.
Keeps you stress-free
The automated tasks runs on itself and therefore, you need to stress about doing the same routine mundane tasks over and over again. It frees you from all the routine tasks’ stress thus enabling you to live a happy, healthy and carefree life which is good for you and your family.
Will Automation take away jobs from humans?
I recently read an article on Forbes focuses on ‘The Upside Of Automation’. Automation will create new Jobs, increase productivity and changing roles for workers. It clearly highlights that automation will impact not only e-Commerce industry but all manufacturing, food service, banking sectors etc. positively.
Here’s a little excerpt from the article that you must read:
“Over the next five years, workers will be doing less predictable physical work, data processing, and information collection. There will be more automatic real-time data feeds and data monitoring that won’t require workers to enter and analyze it. And there will be more work on the other end of the spectrum, where people spend time making decisions based on the data collected, managing others and applying expertise...
...McKinsey’s research confirms the extent that new technology and automation will continue to impact workforces across the globe. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the jobs most susceptible to automation are those involving physical tasks or operating machines in a physically predictable setting.
A McKinsey Global Institute study estimates that it is technically feasible to automate 78 percent of these activities, the highest rate of the seven job categories reviewed. The highest percentage of these types of jobs are in manufacturing, food service and accommodations, and retailing.
Sales and customer service jobs are on the other end of the spectrum, even in the manufacturing sector. Only 30 percent of that work is automatable because it involves interpersonal communications skills and judgment-based decision-making.
Productivity will increase with automation, and this can benefit workers and companies. The technology can fuel company growth and, in turn, create new jobs and product lines. More critical is for companies to re-invest in workers’ capacity and in retraining. When automation can handle up to 45 percent of repetitive work, it gives workers time for more higher-value tasks such as problem-solving, finding solutions and developing new ideas. This will empower employees, and generate a more engaging and challenging work experience.”
This growing trend of using automation in small and mid-scale industry shows that technological advancement is not just limited to big giants like Amazon in eCommerce business. Automation is for one and all and it eases out not only the way of working for the entrepreneurs but also helps them to save time which can be utilized for increasing productivity or spending more time with family and friends.
I am a content specialist with 10+ years of experience in the field. As a Sr. Content Writer at Orderhive, I help online vendors to learn more about the latest trends and technological advancements in managing inventory, warehouse, orders, and shipping. My articles give insight into how to leverage these new technologies to their advantage and optimizing their overall eCommerce operations. I am an avid birder and nature lover who loves to explore national parks and wildlife sanctuaries during my leisure time.