Automate These 7 Processes To Save Time AND Grow Your Retail Brand in 2024

Do you want to streamline your operations, save time and still scale in 2024?

The best way to do it is using automation.

E-commerce businesses, in particular, can benefit hugely from automating critical workflows including: order processing, order management, inventory and shipping, marketing, purchasing, billing and customer service.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or require any coding or IT genius – and the benefits can be huge.

For instance, Brightpearl’s powerful Automation Engine saves the average retailer two months every year, as well as cutting costs in half and reducing errors by 65%.

Here are seven key processes you should automate in 2024 if you want to optimize your time and still achieve growth.

1.   Order processing

Manually processing and managing orders typically requires lots of people power. From printing and picking orders to packing and posting, a ton of manual labor can get used up by this process alone.

Automating this part of your business can be one of the biggest game-changers, dramatically boosting efficiency as well as saving tons of cash and eliminating errors.

Brightpearl is the perfect partner for automating your order fulfillment workflows so you can get more orders out in less time – even during busy periods.

In Brightpearl’s Automation Engine, conditions can be set based on a huge range of factors – including an order’s stock allocation status, payment status, sales channel and product type – so that orders are processed in the best, most efficient way.

Dispatch notes can be automatically printed, customer emails can be automatically sent and stock levels can be automatically updated. Even complex orders can be easily automated with options to enable partial fulfillment, trigger order splitting and use alternative warehouses depending on inventory availability.

If you have inventory across multiple warehouses, you can boost efficiency by routing orders to the best warehouse depending on factors including destination and content. This reduces delivery costs and boosts delivery timescales.

Don’t worry, the rules are easy to set-up (you don’t need to do any coding) and our expert team is always on hand to help if you need it. Find out more with a free demo.

2.   Shipping

Consumers in 2024 don’t just want speedy shipping, they demand it (it’s what drives so many consumers to shop on Amazon, after all).

That means retailers must find ways to streamline and speed up their shipping processes. The best and easiest way to do that is by using automation. It makes shipping faster, cheaper and more reliable.

Shipping automation is known to enhance customer experience by ensuring faster and more accurate order processing, leading to timely deliveries and increased customer satisfaction.

Shiptheory specializes in automating shipping processes, aiming to reduce manual input and ensure shoppers get a seamless shipping experience. It seamlessly connects your business with your shipping carriers and automatically creates labels (communicating directly with your printers) and customs documentation and offers real-time metrics.

Shiptheory also provides free onboarding and technical support to help you master the automation of your shipping process. It’s a no brainer.

3.   Inventory planning

Overstock is enemy number one for most retailers in 2024. That’s because overstock ties up cash which could be needed for other areas of the business, results in storage costs and risks losses if overstocked items become outdated.

The same goes for stockouts – it results in missed sales, annoyed customers and damage to your reputation.

Luckily, there’s a simple antidote to both issues: automated inventory planning.

It’s not just about automating the monitoring and analysizing of your stock levels, either. Leading apps like Inventory Planner by Sage automatically notifies you when there’s a risk of overstock or running out of stock.

Based on its advanced demand forecasting, Inventory planner translates advanced demand forecasting data into reliable, intuitive buying recommendations. The app can then automatically create POs – saving buyers hours every week and streamlining the whole purchasing process.

A demo will let you see how automating your inventory planning and purchasing could work for your business.

4.   Email and SMS marketing

Timely and personalized email communication is crucial for retailers because it builds connection with customers, enhancing engagement, loyalty – and ultimately driving sales.

Automation is essential in 2024 if you want to save time, avoid mistakes and support a carefully targeted strategy (rather than taking a ‘spray and pray’ approach).

Email marketing automation tools, such as Klaviyo, help e-commerce businesses efficiently target the right audience and enhance conversion rates.

Klaviyo’s advanced features enable businesses to create personalized and targeted email campaigns tailored to individual customer behaviors. For instance, by using automated segementation, businesses can categorize their audience based on purchase history, preferences and engagement.

It’s also easy to to automatically send relevant emails which are triggered by specific actions or events – such as abandoned cards or recent purchases.

The platform’s automated analytics and reporting mean retailers can get valuable insights into campaign performance, making it easier to refine strategy to boost growth. Klaviyo offers a demo of its features, including automation, here.

5.   Billing

Improved accuracy, faster payments, boosted efficiency – they’re just some of the reasons every retailer should be thinking about automating their billing workflows in 2024.

It’s essential for any business that wants to focus on its core activities, rather than getting bogged down by tedious mundane tasks. It’s also part of the solution to providing a seamless experience for customers, suppliers and internal teams.

For subscription-based businesses, Recharge is a go-to platform to automate subscription billing and management – 93% of Shopify Plus stores that offer subscriptions rely on it.

Recharge offers slick functionality that makes it easy to automate retention techniques, payment retries and all repeatable subscription billing tasks in order to minimize mistakes, save time, and increase overall efficiency.

6. Tax compliance

There are few more boring but important parts of running an e-commerce business than paying the right taxes. For multi-region and international brands, with multiple streams of income, working our tax compliance manually can be a total nightmare.

However, this too can be automated.

Avalara is a platform that can automate the complex task of tax compliance to ensure accurate and timely tax calculations and filing.

Whether its VAT registrations, returns or reporting, Avalara is a specialist software tool that can save tons of time that you can reinvest in other areas of your business.

7. Customer service

Modern consumers want to be kept in the loop at every stage of their buying journey. They want to know their order has been placed, they want to know when it’s on its way and they certainly want to know if there’s any kind of issue or delay.

Without automation, maintaining such high levels of communication is virtually impossible. Even employing a team of customer service agents to provide comms isn’t foolproof – human errors get made, training is required to keep comms quality high and sickness or absence inevitably throws a spanner in the works.

Automating your post-purchase comms is the solution – and this is where dedicated automation tools come in.

Gorgias is a powerful tool that is used to automate a range of customer service tasks, allowing businesses to provide quicker and more accurate support. Gorgias Automate works 24/7 to answer up to 60% of your most repetitive tickets with a 0-second response time, freeing your team to focus on conversations that actually need a human touch.

Meanwhile, Zendesk is able to automate customer support workflows including ticket management, live chat and self-service customer service. These super-specific automations help you manage your workflow and improve performance and customer satisfaction. For instance, rules can be set so you are alerted to tickets that remain unresolved after a certain time period and therefore need to be escalated.

As every retailer knows, keeping existing customers is cheaper than finding new ones – and as excellent service is the key to achieving that, all merchants should be looking to automate elements of their service if they don’t already.

Learn more about the benefits  and scope of automation with Brightpearl – and see some example rules in action – here.