When’s the last time you got out a pencil and paper to do long division? Or used a Rolodex to look up a client phone number?  The answer doesn’t matter — we have technology to do these things for us, whether it’s as simple as a calculator or as complex as CRM software. 

That’s the beauty of automation. When it’s done right, it makes processes so seamless, you can’t remember doing them without technology. 

Today, every industry has adopted automation in some form — and e-commerce is no exception. E-commerce automation is responsible for the experiences behind some of the world’s favorite brands. Are you using it to its greatest potential? 

Let’s take a look at what e-commerce automation is and how it can supercharge your online selling with a few simple applications.

What Is E-Commerce Automation?

Automation is any technology that uses conditions and logic to perform repetitive tasks without human involvement. 

E-commerce automation is technology that performs e-commerce tasks and processes like inventory management, order fulfillment or customer communication. 

Anything else you want off your plate? There’s a good chance automation can handle it. 

Just remember: Automation is designed to handle all the standard, mundane tasks that take up your team’s time — not the ones that require true human input. With e-commerce automation, you’ll have more time to focus on things like building partner relationships, strategizing ad campaigns and strengthening the brand. 

How Does (E-Commerce) Automation Work?

At its core, all automation involves three main components:

  • Trigger — an action like a purchase, customer inquiry or website click that starts a workflow or automated process
  • Condition — a rule (think if/then) that dictates if a particular action should be taken
  • Action — the final outcome of the workflow once the conditions are met

Not to worry — you don’t have to automate e-commerce functions yourself. Most e-commerce automation software comes ready to work out of the box without any coding required. No more incessant clicking. No more manual searching. Just automated ease for all your processes.

Examples of E-Commerce Automation

There are countless e-commerce tasks you can apply automation to, including (but not limited to):

Ready to try your hand at automation? Here are some common use cases in various areas of e-commerce you can test the waters with:

E-Commerce Automation for Marketing: Amazon Advertising

When setting up your Amazon Advertising campaigns like Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands, an automation tool can be incredibly helpful in managing things like bidding and making bulk changes.

The way it works depends on your goals. When the objective is to generate high-volume sales and increase Buy Box potential, you can use a specific set of automation rules to optimize bidding for a greater return on ad spend (ROAS). At other times, when the goal is higher profit margins, you can put a different set of rules in place to boost your cost per order (CPO) or advertising cost of sales (ACoS).

Once you get comfortable with automating your Amazon Advertising campaigns, you’ll find there are countless ways to achieve any number of objectives.

E-Commerce Automation for Selling: Pricing Strategies

If there’s one challenge all marketplace sellers face, it’s product pricing. Price an item too high, and you’ll get beaten by competitors. Drop it too low, and you may compromise your profit margins (while potentially breaking critical pricing policies and agreements too).

Why not leave it to the robots?

An automated pricing strategy monitors the delicate balance of marketplace pricing for you. 

  • Want to win more of the buy box at the highest price possible? Set up algorithmic repricing
  • Need a better way to match what competitors are doing? Use rule-based automation to automatically adjust product price based on your desired minimums and maximums. 
  • Looking for a way to easily meet pricing policies and agreements? Use a price manager tool to ensure consistency across marketplaces and webstores at all times.

No matter which pricing automation method(s) you use, you’ll position your products to gain more visibility across more channels without adding the work or stress of violating compliance agreements.

What Are the Benefits of E-Commerce Automation?

Automation has made believers out of professionals across industries. Today, 70% of leaders believe automation helps businesses build more effective teams. In addition, automation:

  • Saves time and money

E-commerce automation keeps employees from spending time on “busy work” so they can focus instead on critical problem-solving and strategies that move the business forward. It also saves money by consolidating processes and allowing salaried employees to use their time more wisely. 

  • Boosts productivity and revenue

While manual processes keep employees from advancing the business, high-value tasks help grow it faster. When you outsource simple tasks to automation technology, you free up team members to work on high-potential items like assortment planning, designing new ads or engaging customers on social media. 

  • Keeps you compliant

Marketplace compliance can be costly if you infringe on your agreements. But it can also be costly to spend hours auditing and reviewing. E-commerce automation is designed to assess your marketplace data and correct human error to keep you from expensive mistakes. Plus, it gives you peace of mind and frees up employees to focus on other tasks.

ChannelAdvisor Automates Your E-Commerce Operations

The more e-commerce tasks you automate, the better positioned you’ll be to expand your business and soar past competitors. From scheduling cross-channel promotions to automating reorders, there are countless ways to optimize your e-commerce operations.

ChannelAdvisor experts know which e-commerce activities to automate — and which to leave to your teams — for the greatest return. We help brands and retailers like you automate everything from digital marketing to fulfillment so you can scale your business across more channels. 

Contact us today to learn how our Managed Services offering can help automate your e-commerce operations for the highest return.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in October 2018 and was updated in September 2022 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted by Contributor