The idea behind e-commerce automation is to use technology to automate repetitive tasks so that your employees can focus on more important things. Automating tasks can also improve your business’s efficiency and increase its revenue.
Investing heavily in automation through artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics makes sense given the many benefits it can provide. In fact, one-fifth of companies report that they will automate some of their processes within the next year.
Changing consumer behavior is also behind the push for further automation. As a result of the two-year Covid-19 pandemic, many people had no choice but to shop online rather than in physical stores. Now that we are out of the woods, consumers seem to have realized that they prefer online shopping. As physical stores continue to become less popular, automation becomes more crucial.
The best example of the way automation can serve e-commerce businesses is Alibaba’s chatbot, AliMe. China-based Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce company. It introduced AliMe in 2015 to keep up with its explosive sales growth. Using transaction data, AliMe analyzes and predicts the needs of its customers. As the crown jewel of e-commerce artificial intelligence, it can also recognize a customer’s emotions and alert human customer service agents when the situation needs de-escalation. Not only does AliMe “sound” like a real human customer support representative, but it can also churn out approximately 20,000 lines of text per second, making it infinitely more productive than even the largest teams of professional copywriters. Alibaba is not the only company heavily investing in chatbots. More than half of customers report that they have used chatbots for simple customer service tasks.
The Rohlik Group, a European leader in e-groceries, has also embraced ecommerce’s evolution. It invested in robotic carts for its warehouses and fulfillment centers in Prague, Vienna, and Hamburg. These carts can select customers’ items from the warehouse’s shelves without the need for human operators. This will consequently increase order preparation productivity threefold and save 60% on storage space. It will also free up human employees for more important tasks, especially considering that order pickers spend 60-80% of their workday transporting orders from point A to point B.
Erik Čomor, CEO of Knuspr.de (a German branch of Rohlik Group), said, “Efficient and effective logistics, together with increasingly automated warehouses, are one of the keys to success.” We could not agree more!
In the United States, Best Buy is also making strides in innovating the way they automate the e-commerce side of their business. In 2015, they debuted Chloe. Chloe works like a vending machine, but instead of snacks, she dispenses Best Buy products. Customers can order items using her touchpad interface. It takes less than a minute for Chloe to prepare the customer’s order and present it to them in a convenient collection bin. It is a pity that Best Buy is not in the business of selling Chloes that prepare cups of coffee and bring them to you—I can think of a number of offices that would invest in Chloes like that!
However, not all businesses believe that every process that can be automated should be. Some of the arguments against full automation include the risk of losing the “human touch” entirely as well as the cost of developing systems that are complex enough to run fully automated processes. The maintenance and upkeep of such systems is an additional and expensive consideration.
Time and budget limitations are the most significant challenges facing e-commerce marketing teams. Both issues can be addressed through automation.
We recommend automating these tasks for your e-commerce business:
A business’s decision to automate processes depends on how it perceives its customers and how it intends to scale. Nonetheless, automation is an emerging trend that will continue to grow in popularity.
We believe the questions e-commerce companies should be asking are, “Which processes should we automate?” and “How soon should we automate them?”
Almost half of CMOs and CEOs report having a shortage of internal skills and expertise. This contributes to the difficulties companies encounter in automating their processes. Stanton Chase has been helping companies achieve success for over 30 years and knows the importance of appointing the right executives at the right time. A skills shortage can be a challenging situation, but our consultants are here to help.