Welcome to the kick-off of Season 5, focused on automation. Beka Rice is Head of Product at SkyVerge and has an obsession with all things automated. Today, we discuss why automation doesn’t have to be inhuman, how the order confirmation is actually the beginning of the customer relationship and what questions to ask in a discovery meeting.
Shattering negative connotations about automation:
Everyone seems to be talking about automation, but there’s a gap in the conversation: what and where should we automate to really streamline a business?
Beka offers valuable insight into how automation can save both time and money in the e-commerce space.
She recognizes a common problem among business owners who are afraid to automate for fear of being impersonal. Instead, she reframes the idea with the perspective that it simply allows you to use your time more wisely.
7:05 “Anything that’s low impact for your business or is a low impact use of your time, is something you should strive to automate because it buys back that time then so that you can spend that time on innovation or high impact tasks.”
Often, store owners are doing a lot of maintenance work like inventory and sales. These need to be done, but they aren’t necessarily giving your business a competitive advantage.
Invest time for more time:
The range of time and energy that automation in e-commerce takes to set up depends on what you’re doing. You have to understand that even if you only spend a few minutes on something each day, if you automate that and never have to worry about it again, you’ll gain that time back very quickly.
Beka gives an example that most developers can relate to: automating work through Grunt and Gulp. She says that they didn’t have to automate that process and it could have been done manually, but in the long run it streamlined workflow.
Another example of automation that yields big returns is Jilt, born out of SkyVerge’s obsession with automating things.
Through Jilt, Beka explains that they focus on the intersection of relationships with customers and where businesses make money. Jilt automatically collects email addresses from customers who forget to check out online, and then send them reminders to purchase their products.
Not only does this build better relationships, it also boosts revenue. Their user base on average has 70% cart abandonment, but with Jilt, 15-20% of those carts become recoverable.
Post purchase customer automation:
16:30 “Communication with your customers is the best way to try and build a relationship and loyalty.”
Beka says that’s why she always encourages stores to send a welcome email after customers purchase, which makes them far more likely to read future emails.
To automate this, you can customize a drip sequence that follows the order confirmation. While some may argue that the purchase is the end of the relationship, in reality it is the beginning.
- Order confirmation.
- Follow with a thank you, and maybe solicit feedback.
- Offer a discreet call to action with a coupon for their next purchase or suggestions on items they might like, and so on.
Management process automation:
On the backend, one of the main things to focus on is automating inventory processing and management. A point of sales service is a great way to synchronize your sales in-store and online.
To understand what your customers need to boost their productivity, Beka has several questions you should be asking your clients as the developer and solution finder:
- Who is running the store?
- Give me a list of management tasks you spend your time on each week.
- What is your time best spent on? (This helps you understand what you are buying back time for.)
- How do you get, process and make inventory accessible in store?
- How is the customer experience?
- What does the post-order process look like? How are you staying in contact with customers?
Look at the customer lifecycle and store lifecycle to see where you can automate for maximum efficiency.
34:08 “The most important to me is where they spend their time. If you can free that up, you’ve already created immense value for them. And then look at the rest of the lifecycle of the store to say okay here are other things we can save time on, improve, or make better.”
Workable is what SkyVerge uses to process applications, and they’ve been receiving great feedback. Hiring culture is really important, so this has become Beka’s current favorite.
And yes, SkyVerge is hiring. 😉
Understanding Automation in E-Commerce
During the show, Beka mentioned writing a follow-up article going into additional detail of what she discussed in this episode. Here’s the article!