The e-commerce market is bigger than it’s ever been. Oberlo research predicts more than 2.14 billion people will be shopping online by the end of 2021 — roughly 27 percent of the global population. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that consumers spent $861.12 billion with online merchants in 2020, up a whopping 44 percent year over year from 2019. This is great news for e-commerce retailers, who can expect their revenue to continue growing as long as they take the right steps.
Growth in e-commerce doesn’t just present a business opportunity. As online consumers become more discerning, companies have to get creative with the ways they keep up with demand. That means automating their e-commerce workflow is essential.
JotForm can be a valuable partner in automating many of your business processes. Here’s our guide about how to streamline your operations.
The benefits of workflow automation
Major online retailers save millions of dollars each year by automating their recurring processes. While a small business won’t see savings that dramatic, streamlining basic business functions can stabilize operations, protect staff from burnout, and position the company for more growth.
Repetitive and mundane tasks may be easy to do, but they eat up time and drain valuable mental energy. Workflow automation helps your business get this busywork done faster, and since that allows your workers to spend more energy on projects that really matter, they’re more productive. Automating processes also improves accuracy because it reduces the potential for human error.
Aside from improving performance, automatic data logging and organization significantly improve recordkeeping. Plus, many workflow apps have search functionality that makes locating files and records easier than ever, since you don’t have to click through menus and folders to find what you’re looking for.
What exactly is e-commerce workflow automation?
To put it simply, e-commerce workflow automation is a way for small online businesses to streamline their recurring and repetitive processes by delegating them to apps and other software tools.
We’ve come a long way since the pencil-on-paper era of work. Current technology is so advanced that employees in many companies don’t even need to write the majority of their emails to customers.
Automation isn’t as abstract as it sounds. It can be as simple as a system generating notifications about a project update instead of having someone type a response. In an e-commerce workflow, one of the most common automations is confirming an order.
In the past, after a customer checked out and submitted their payment, an employee would have to manually generate an order number and type an email response to the customer, letting them know that their order was in process.
Sure, this might have taken only a few minutes, but when companies process dozens or hundreds of orders daily, manual responses take hours of work. Automation apps like JotForm Approvals drastically reduce order confirmation time with order approval process templates.
When you take these mundane tasks off your employees’ plates, you free them up to get higher-level work done — which is good for your bottom line, good for morale, and good for your customers.
What can you automate?
Customer notifications are just one of many processes you can automate. Fortunately, you can streamline almost every aspect of a process in an e-commerce workflow thanks to a wide array of tools like JotForm Approvals.
When your company needs to restock supplies, purchase order approval and request forms collect all necessary information and automatically notify appropriate managers. JotForm has more than 900 order form templates for every type of industry or purchase.
Returns are a fact of life for every kind of merchant. Refund approval templates can formalize the process for reviewing each request and authorizing repayment.
JotForm helps automate much of the data collection that goes into new vendor onboarding with a variety of vendor application form templates. Approval templates also make the vendor approval process go faster.
It’s easy to build approval workflows with the drag-and-drop interface and customizable forms from JotForm Approvals. And if there isn’t a template already available for your workflow, you can make one yourself.
How do you automate processes?
It takes a little bit of legwork to do automation right. If you’re new to automation, start with one process to get a feel for it and see how much easier your work becomes — before you try to automate your entire business.
Here are the steps you should take toward e-commerce workflow automation so you can spend less time on redundant tasks.
Visualize the process
Before you start programming an automated workflow, create a visual of what the process will look like. Think of this as a map of the actions you need to take and when you need to take them. Usually, this will look like a flowchart.
Before you finalize this flowchart, check with the employees involved in the workflow to make sure it includes everything they’ll need. For example, if you’re creating an automated workflow for refunds, loop in operations and accounting, the two departments that will use the workflow the most. Ask for their input about the functionality and options they’ll need.
Choose an automation solution
In today’s high-tech business world, there’s no shortage of e-commerce workflow platforms. JotForm is a flexible option, as it integrates directly with some of the most popular apps, including Shopify, Asana, Trello, and Airtable. JotForm also integrates with Zapier for even more options and versatility.
Test the process
Before you fully rely on your newly automated workflow, you should make sure it works perfectly. It’s easy to leave out important steps until you actually run a workflow a few times. Let the employees who will use the workflow the most try it. They’ll spot issues faster than anyone else, and their feedback will be the most valuable.
Automate better with JotForm
Keeping up with the demanding pace of the growing e-commerce market will be no easy feat — but automating your workflow processes will ensure your success. You can choose from a variety of apps, but JotForm Approvals offers more templates and form capabilities than any platform out there. Get started today for free.