How to Drive Ecommerce Growth with Enterprise Automation

The ecommerce industry is constantly evolving with shifts in trends, purchasing behaviors, and success factors. Ecommerce was growing fast before COVID-19; however, the pandemic generated more online consumers, and this trend has accelerated even more.

Analysts expect the global ecommerce industry to grow from $5.7 trillion in 2022 to $8.1 trillion by 2026. By 2023, 22% of global retail sales will be from ecommerce (in contrast to 14.1% in 2019). 

To be competitive, ecommerce providers must also continue to evolve. And a big part of this evolution is improving the customer experience (CX). Ecommerce providers must focus on creating better customer experiences to enhance customer loyalty, customer retention, and ultimately their customer’s lifetime value.

A Shift in Consumer Buying Behavior

According to the EY Future Consumer Index, 37% of consumers believe their shopping habits will change over the long-term and 39% say they will shop more online for things they used to buy in stores. This change in consumer buying behavior is heavily influenced by the customer experience. 80% of customers say the customer experience is as important as its products and services. Product quality is no longer the primary reason consumers choose to do business with a particular brand.

Having an exceptional customer experience is just as (if not more) important as the quality of your product or service offering. 

Improving the Customer Experience 

Today’s customer has come to expect a high standard of ecommerce speed and accuracy. Online stores need to provide accurate inventory data. Orders must be processed immediately and automatically inform customers of their order confirmation, shipping information, and delivery date. The fulfillment and shipping process needs to be as efficient as possible, ensuring speed and ideal packaging while tracking progress in your accounting and analytics systems. And the returns process must be simple and clear for the customer while updating all your internal data.

These efficiencies help to ensure a positive customer experience, and the key to achieving these efficiencies is ecommerce enterprise automation.

What Is Ecommerce Enterprise Automation?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems work as a central hub of ecommerce operations, involving storefronts, marketplaces, POS systems, 3PLs, and warehouses.  When you unify and integrate your ERP with core operations (including inventory and order management, financials, and customer support), you’ve built a foundation for integration-driven automation. The ERP can be your single source of truth for multiple business processes. 

The term “ecommerce enterprise automation” refers specifically to automating business processes in an organization that has adopted an “automation-first” business model. In this model, integration becomes the tool to achieve business-process automation and goes beyond standard “point-to-point” integration between two applications. 

Why Is Automation Essential in Ecommerce?

Without integration and automation, companies often find themselves tangled in data silos and error-prone manual work, with no ability to take insights from their data. For example, customer data and interactions can span across applications and departments, and the order-to-cash process can be fragmented between different endpoints.

Native point-to-point integrations can alleviate some burden, but many companies implement them as an afterthought when new applications are brought into the tech stack. This means they are typically static, without the flexibility and customization needed to handle edge cases. When companies move forward on an as-needed basis, they often have a confusing patchwork of integration solutions. And many fast-growing ecommerce companies don’t have in-house IT resources to handle ongoing integration implementation.

Only true business process automation can ensure that these pain points are resolved and that companies deliver a first-class customer experience.

How to Enable an Agile Organization

  • Integrate any business application across any line of business. A comprehensive solution to enterprise-wide automation should be equipped to handle specific, common business processes. But it also needs to be flexible and customizable, allowing non-technical users to integrate any business app to any other business app, and to automate any business process as they evolve.
  • Optimize business process automation over time. Agile organizations understand how to capitalize on learnings that are discovered in day-to-day operations. With automation in place, the skills built in the first automation are leverageable across all subsequent automations, bringing costs down as the number of automations increases.
  • Make automation accessible to both IT and business teams. The true mark of an automation-first mindset is when it spans the entire enterprise. While technical teams need complete customization and a scalable solution behind the scenes, non-technical users can handle end-to-end business processes while saving time and resources. 
  • Accelerate digital transformation with all departments. Operations, sales, marketing, finance, HR, and more can all benefit from automation. When enterprise-wide automation is handled on a single platform, it provides companies with a centralized, holistic view to monitor their integrations and business processes.

Ecommerce Automation Benefits

For the customer experience: The benefits associated with automating processes allow efficient, fast, mistake-free work behind the scenes, which allows ecommerce companies to provide stellar customer service.  

Automated operations allow easy shopping, accurate orders, and fast delivery. Integration-driven automation improves the handling of Black Friday and Cyber Monday demand; handling large volumes of volume spikes and transactions during peak sales seasons will no longer be an operational bottleneck. Additionally, with automation also comes lower costs, allowing you to offer competitive pricing.

For IT: Integration technology and process automation allow technical personnel more time to focus on complex queries and requests, such as curating data sets and developing operational improvement strategies. IT teams can eliminate costs related to building, maintaining, and supporting ad-hoc data warehouse integrations.

For finance: Finance teams can create real-time reports from trusted data that improve the speed, accuracy, and value of financial reporting, forecasting, and analysis. Finance teams have real-time visibility to accurately represent the economic volatility or activity with invoicing, revenues, and subscription metrics to predict future cash positions and avoid cash shortages. They can eliminate manual data dumps and management of multiple spreadsheets that result in static, outdated reports.

For Operations: Access to real-time data improves operational efficiency. Operations teams can measure key performance metrics around order-to-fulfillment rates, stock-outs, order cancellations, cart abandonment, etc., to identify areas for operational improvement.

Watch Celigo’s Webinar: Future-proof Your Ecommerce Business with Automation

How to Automate Your Ecommerce Business

Establish a cultural shift in your company with the goal of an automation-first mindset and digital transformation. Make sure your teams understand that automation does not replace employees; it empowers employees to do their jobs better and more efficiently, allowing them to spend more energy on making high-value business impacts.

Ecommerce automation best practices call for thoughtful planning and expectations:

  • Map out your ecommerce processes and list all the applications needed to execute them.
  • Identify the most critical data that must be 100% accurate, even during your transition period.
  • Highlight processes that typically take up the most time, resources, and manual work.
  • Calculate ROI — including labor and the costs related to mistakes or flawed business decisions — to decide what to automate first.

In most ecommerce operations, the processes to focus automation on first are:

  • Order-to-cash
  • Retail and supply chain EDI
  • Customer 360
  • Payout-to-reconciliation
  • Data warehousing

Learn how Wayfair implements integration and ERP automation to scale home its furnishing business into new channels at efficient and scalable speeds.

Growing Your Ecommerce Business

In today’s changing environment, with consumers switching brands more often, brands must focus on strategies that make the customer experience a competitive differentiator. Automating your ecommerce business processes is fundamental to enhancing your customer experience as your business grows. Automation can help you provide a flawless customer experience, ensuring data fidelity to provide meaningful business insights while creating alignment to mitigate business risk.

Automation also ensures that if you do grow, you won’t outgrow your operations. Companies that integrate applications are one step ahead, connecting their tech stack point to point. But companies who embrace enterprise-wide ecommerce automation have no limit to how much they can grow.

Where are you on your automation journey? 

Let’s find out


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