The seamless nature of processes from product discovery to the delivery is one of the crucial reasons for increasing eCommerce adoption. This smooth flow of transactions is not possible without a certain extent of automation. In that sense, the eCommerce industry, being a digitally native one, is already at the forefront of automation.
As the industry is set to grow exponentially, personalization is going to be the differentiating factor between successful and not-so-successful ventures. However, personalization is a delighting factor, something that provides additional value. At the foundation, though, the seamless nature of transactions that we talked about will be taken for granted by customers. The kind of personalization that makes a difference will not be possible unless you have excellent automation supporting it underneath.
Given our deep, ongoing association with eCommerce merchants, we have been speaking to a lot of them about how can technology support the future growth of eCommerce ventures? These discussions help us develop our capabilities to serve our customers right. In this article, we bring you some of the conclusions we have drawn as a result of these ongoing interactions.
Ecommerce Automation Enhances The Customer Journey
A typical customer journey map for an eCommerce considers five stages; Awareness, Consideration, Acquisition, Service, and Loyalty.
But from a customer perspective, these stages are a bit different. They are Discovery, Purchase, Fulfilment, and Loyalty.
Discovery is the stage where the customer;
- finds out about a product
- evaluates the options
- decides whether to continue with you or not
In the purchase, a customer would;
- Choose a delivery option
- Make the payment
- Get the order confirmation
In the fulfilment stage;
- Can track the delivery progress
- Receives the delivery
- Decides between returning & keeping the product
- If the decision is to return the product, concludes the returning process
In the loyalty phase;
- Return to your site to purchase again
Communication Is The Common Denominator
In every stage of the customer journey, communication is the shared key. Communication is also the most straightforward part of automation, and every successful eCommerce store employs automated message delivery. Be it advertising, social posts, or newsletters, the creation is manual, but the distribution is automated. This automated outreach is how potential customers first discover the product.
Influencing The First Decision To Purchase Is The Tipping Point
However, marketers and designers often ignore the next step. There is little automation support available that helps the customer with evaluating the options and arrive at a conclusion. This decision is a critical step because the experience of product evaluation is most often the tipping point for the decision to purchase. What we see right now are the product description pages that passively leave it to the customer to navigate and seek the information they want, rather than taking a proactive approach.
Simple automation that is possible in these areas is a conversational bot. Be it a mobile application or a web application, allowing the customers to find out the information they want in an interactive fashion is going to take much pain away. For example, consider a person looking at buying t-shirts. Often, the description of material is vague, or the customer is unaware of the exact mix and wants to confirm the same. Compare the two experiences of trying to find the information on the page by reading the copy with that of asking the precise question to a person or bot and finding out the right answer just like that.
Such conversation automation also provides you with a chance to score a brownie point over your competitors. Often, the customer is comparing two stores for similar material. A proactive, instantaneous availability of information can be a critical differentiating factor for the consumer.
The Order Fulfilment Is The Stepping Stone For Customer Loyalty
The purchase and fulfilment stage is where the automation needs to happen at the backend. Again, this is an area where there already is much automation, especially for established & largish eCommerce ventures. These processes entail inventory management, supply chain management, packaging, and delivery. Even if an eCommerce venture has still not automated these processes, it is relatively easy to develop the integration as most of these backend systems are now mature.
While it may not be accurate for every eCommerce venture, IoT and Robotics are quickly making its presence felt in this area. Especially for the enterprises where the delivery happens through their captive warehouses. From getting the ordered items to packaging them and prepping for delivery, robots are doing every activity. Smaller eCommerce ventures might be a little away from this level of automation, but it is not too far in future that the technology will become more accessible. While these are not customer-facing automation, they result in better, quicker service delivery, thus enhancing the customer experience. That experience ultimately results in increased loyalty and revenues.
The fulfilment stage though provides more opportunities for customer-facing automation. The entire return process can be automated. Automating such processes enable you to reach out to the customers and influence the engagement proactively. Helping customers return a product actively can be your chance to provide superior service and win customer loyalty. After all, as a customer, I would value the seamless return experience as more important than the purchase experience.
The Long-Lasting Success Is Built On Continuous Engagement
A lot of smaller eCommerce ventures either ignore this process or focus on one or two dimensions only. The automation in this area can provide continuous engagement and nudge the customers to return to the site for the next set of purchases. While the communication can be automated in both the pre-customer acquisition and post-purchase stages, in the latter case, you have the benefit of insights into actual customer behaviour at the individual level. Automation can help the communication become very targeted and hence, has more probability to be successful at keeping the customer loyal.
Automation, Personalization, And Intelligence: The Enabler Trinity
Automation & personalization driven by cutting-edge intelligence is what’s going to power tomorrow’s eCommerce success. We have discussed personalization in an earlier article. We have presented simple automation possibilities in the current article. In one of the next articles, we will add intelligence to the trinity. That intelligence will take automation to the next level and allow personalized experiences that drive loyalty and growth. Stay tuned for more or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for discussing eCommerce and marketing automation strategies.