Updated: Aug 24
The word "automation" does not carry the luster it once did. It's so commonplace now that we don't even think about it: direct-deposit paychecks, logging into accounts with saved passwords, getting notifications on our phones, or waking up to Google briefing your day - it’s everywhere.
Do you remember when people thought AUtOmATiON was a big, scary monster coming to steal everyone's jobs?
Wait - that’s still happening!
The point is, we have a love-hate relationship with automation, and the love of automation has been buried by the infinite number of possibilities and, gradually, has become a little less exciting, and lot more normal.
Whether or not you personally see automation as "NEW & EXCITING", automation is critical to the success of a business. How else are you going to compete with $233-billion-dollar juggernauts that are automated to the point they basically don’t need employees in their stores?
The good news is, parts of your operations are probably already automated to some extent. With the advent of cloud-hosted environments, businesses large and small are benefiting greatly when it comes to automated solutions.
Retailers can leverage business software solutions to help automate a variety of their business functions like:
eCommerce Shopping Carts
Shipping & Tracking
There are thousands solutions out there that can help small-to-medium retail businesses and business owners to automate various functions of their company, freeing up their most valuable resource - HUMANS - to spend their time doing more important things than data entry, order fulfillment, and inventory counts.
Some examples of software solutions that are designed to help businesses manage operations more efficiently include:
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner)
CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
3PL (Third Party Logistics)
WMS (Warehouse Management System)
OMS (Order Management System)
IMS (Inventory Management System)
and so much more...
There really is a LOT to think about. Each of these solutions are providing your business with an automated function. If your company uses any systems like these, and you were around for the adoption process, you know the impact they can have helping you scale the business.
The problem: Data doesn't always translate
Many of these systems do not naturally communicate with one another, but they should. Most businesses rely heavily on their various systems to get the job done; more often than not, information from one system needs to be recorded in another, and the data doesn't always translate well between disparate systems.
It's not just convenient to automate your data - it is business-critical. Even automating something as simple as the ever-popular customer service request of “where’s my order?” has the potential to eliminate an entire category of support tickets; honestly, it could even increase your sales if done right!
Odds are, right now, you have a list of priorities. For many, automation is right at the top; for others, you may have other things requiring more immediate attention.
Regardless, the truth is that most businesses have several manual functions that, if automated, could save them time and money, and help achieve the end-goal of converting more customers.
Many of these retail business software systems can get you part way there. Some solutions come with pre-built "connections" (a.k.a. integrations) to related software solutions, but some don’t have any at all.
Here are some questions to consider when selecting a new retail business software solution:
Does the software have any pre-built integrations to other systems you're already using?
Is the data that you need accessible via API, Webhook, or FTP?
Is the software provider open to providing you with this functionality as needed?
The further away you are from your desired data flow (i.e. the more steps required to get your desired info from Point A to Point B), the more obstacles you may have to overcome. Selecting the right software solution from the get-go is a great way to reduce friction down the road.
The experts at FOMO agency are a great resource for anyone struggling to find the right solution(s) for their unique needs. We get it - there are a TON of options out there for every function imaginable, and it's a LOT to filter through.
From website design and digital marketing to merchandising and inventory planning, FOMO agency™ will help answer all your eCommerce questions.
Enter your information below to speak with us about growing - or starting - your online retail business!
Automation can be overwhelming. Not only are there a zillion things in the business that can be automated, but if the execution is sloppy, then you may end up with a bigger headache than you had pre-automation.
Automation, done the right way, will scale your business faster than you could imagine. And the best part: you’ll finally have the bandwidth to put your business-imagination to good use!
Need some inspiration to get you thinking about how to automate your eCommerce operations? Cara from ShopPad Inc put a great piece together covering “22 eCommerce Automations Growth-Focused Stores Need to be Running.”
About the Author:
Dustin D. Thede has spent over a decade in retail with a foundation on the front lines as a sales leader and has been helping retail businesses adopt new software and pursue custom development projects since 2016.
Today, Dustin focuses his efforts on helping small to medium businesses (SMB’s) make more informed business decisions in the age of Digital Transformation.
“There is a lot of opportunity online and in stores for retailers. The ability to develop creative, data-driven strategies is key to success in an ever-evolving retail world. A plan today is a vision for tomorrow.”
Dustin D. Thede
President | FOMO agency™