It’s normal that any Shopify store owner would want to grow the business into something bigger. But you probably feel stuck in the everyday nitty-gritty tasks that stop you from moving forward.
When your e-commerce business depends on you, it’s hard to prioritize tasks. Everything seems important. However, if you let go of those mundane tasks through delegating and automation, you can focus on the bigger picture and scale your business.
Let’s see what can be delegated and automated when running an e-commerce business so you free yourself and can work on growth.
Delegating is one of the first things you should learn how to do as a business owner. When your business does scale, you’ll have many employees under you and it’s important to be able to step back in order to achieve more. Delegating and automation has many benefits, here are a few:
- It saves time.
- It improves overall quality if someone else, an expert, for example, does the job better than you.
- It’s more efficient. People specialize in performing certain tasks and learn from their mistakes. If you always find yourself in the trial and error phase, the tasks will take forever.
- You can use your brainpower on strategic thinking and planning.
If you’re always too busy dealing with the small, meaningless tasks, there’s never going to be enough time to think about scaling your business. Delegating takes the pressure off you so you can focus on more important work. Yes, it comes at a cost, but it also means you’ll scale faster so you’ll start making more money sooner.
What to delegate?
First, think about what tasks you’re really good at and what tasks drive your business forward. Maybe that’s negotiating with suppliers or influencers. Or maybe you do awesome product photoshoots. Keep doing those things you do best until you’re able to pay someone to do them even better.
But all the rest that doesn’t need your magic hands can be delegated to freelancers, agencies, and assistants to free your time. What are the tasks you dread doing? Go through our list of ideas that will help you dial down your tasks.
These are all non-essential tasks that just need to be ticked off.
- Paying bills and keeping track of subscription renewals like Shopify - try tools like Subscro, TrackMySubs, Payhawk.
- Invoicing and accounting - QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Wave can help you do that.
- Filling out any documentation.
- Answering (most) emails.
- Ordering supplies and packaging materials.
Use tools or find someone who would be able to take these tasks off your shoulders.
If your company is not a one-man show, managing employees takes too much time. Delegate drafting contracts, training, and scheduling. To make sure everyone’s doing their job properly, prepare guidelines on how things should be done.
Customer support is both very important and exhausting. And what happens around the holidays when people start reaching out non-stop?
It’s better to delegate customer support to hired professionals. Even a part-timer can save your time and answer customer questions. Create some rules of communication and you’ll enjoy the positive effects of dedicated customer service. Customer satisfaction should go up and returns should go down when people have had sales assistance.
Even more, you as the owner and creator of the business might be too involved to handle negative comments. If you take everything too personally, you might overreact to feedback and turn it into a PR disaster. So someone more cool-headed can do it better.
If you cannot hire anyone yet, at least minimize the incoming inquiries. Write out a detailed FAQ page on your site. Facebook Messenger also has a chatbot-like functionality that allows you to set up the answers and have them ready if someone writes in there asking them. Read a blog post about selling via Facebook Messenger.
What can be automated
Of course, many elements of running a Shopify business cannot be passed over. However, it can be done more efficiently. Here are some of the tasks you could automate instead of delegating.
You probably spent lots of time trying to figure out what is going on with your traffic and conversions. But getting the data is not that easy. A tool such as Google Analytics saves your time and provides you the reports you need asap and in one place:
- Conversions by marketing channel, referrals, influencer marketing, or campaigns;
- New vs old customers;
- Coupon code use;
- Products bought together;
- Breakdown of sales by location or even payment method;
- Metrics like how often people shop in your store, how much they spend each time, and as a whole;
- Sales funnels that clearly show how people buy;
When you have all data laid out in front of you, you can make confident decisions and go on growing your sales.
Most of email marketing
Email marketing is not a one-time process. Luckily, a lot of it can be set on autopilot and drive sales while you do other things. Some of the email campaigns you can set and forget about are:
- Follow up on new registrations with blog content;
- Follow up on canceled or returned orders to find out why and fix the problem if possible;
- A discount for window-shoppers to convert them;
- Tailored promotions based on products bought;
- Cart abandonment emails;
- Tiered deals for customers when they hit different targets (e.g. 3 orders, then 5 and so on);
Pro tip: Although it’s not complete automation, you can personalize your email campaigns quickly and easily if you have an e-commerce CRM. Create a campaign you want to run - a Black Friday promo, for example. Then, segment your customers by the products or categories (whatever makes sense for your store) they’ve shopped before. Replicate the campaign as many times as groups you found. Tweak only the products on offer to match the various tastes accordingly.
Getting repeat orders from customers will make your business more profitable. And often, when you have trouble getting new customers, the old ones keep things afloat.
Here are some customer retention strategies that can be set up to work for you automatically:
- Sending tips and tricks post-purchase to make buyers use the product more;
- Reactivation of passive customers after a certain time;
- An alert about new versions of a product they already bought;
- Sending a loyalty reward (can be a personalized discount code or free shipping) when a customer reaches a point of loyalty - makes a very big order, has spent over X so far, has made Y number of orders, etc.
You probably want to gather feedback from your customers but find it hard to follow up on every order. Email tools like Metrilo let you automate the process and monitor all answers in one place.
You can go over the feedback and find ways to improve your brand and product. For example, take the keywords your customers use about your products and use them in your ads - they might be more suitable than your own. If one of your products gets raving reviews all the time, feature it in campaigns along with the testimonials.
Also, negative reviews will show you any problems with your product or service. Try to fix it and make sure to get back to the unhappy customers to update them when the problem is solved.
Feedback is a source of ideas, too - new features, new versions, new products even. It’s direct marketing research insight from your best customers, the most engaged ones who’d spent a few minutes of their time to write a review.
This very important part of e-commerce can also be automated! Setting up ads often takes most of an entrepreneur’s time even before you start monitoring your budget.
An app like sixads, on the other hand, lets you choose the products you want to advertise, then creates the ads for you to approve and starts the campaigns. It even stops the ads for a particular product if it sells out. Such automation can free you hours every week.
How to use the freed-up time
When you get most of the basics to run smoothly, you’ll have more time and brainpower to think long-term and grow your business.
Find new opportunities
- Go through feedback carefully and find points for improvement;
- Research consumer trends and develop new products;
- Find new suppliers or manufacturers;
- Learn how to expand to other sales channels like Pinterest, for example;
- Look at your customers and find new niches to go into;
- Look into foreign markets.
Follow the competition
This is important if you want to be up-to-date on what’s going on in your niche and market. It’s the easiest way to catch new consumer trends before they turn big. You should know when a competitor is launching a new product and which influencers they work with. Also, it’s very useful to spy on their Facebook ads in order to improve your own.
Analyze what’s working in your marketing strategy and reuse
Your marketing efforts - campaigns, influencers, email subject lines, coupon codes, and so on, naturally bring varying results. To optimize these results and get a better return on your marketing investments, you should revisit regularly and see what works.
Double down on the efforts that bring conversions and loyal customers. Replicate the best performing campaigns for all of your customer segments and marketing channels. Reuse the subject lines, coupons, and visuals. Repeat the campaign with that profitable influencer. And cut spending on those strategies that don’t work.
Spend time understanding your customers
The better you understand how people make a buying decision, the more you will be able to sell to them. How they use your site, what things they look at when browsing, what products they buy, and what products they don’t, how often — all are insights that map out the customer journey. Based on that, you can improve your site for more conversions.
Maybe the categories in the menu are unclear and people get lost. Maybe there’s a problem with a particular product and they often abandon it in the cart. Maybe you have a number of fans who visit regularly to check what’s new and a dedicated tab will make things faster for them. These and many more little improvements will come up if you pay attention to how people shop in practice.
If you’re into e-commerce long-term, it’s wise to build a brand, not just resell products. A brand adds value to your products, sets them apart from the rest. This lets you charge higher prices. But even more importantly, it helps to get loyal fans who relate to your brand mission and values.
- Take part in offline events like trade shows, expos, and fairs.
- Think of an overall concept to present your products - how to position them in the lifestyle of the target group, how to present them in photos, how to talk about their benefits. This will improve all your future marketing efforts.
- Find partnerships with brands that target the same audience and do an email swap or joint promotion to reach their email subscribers.
- Start building a community - it can be curated on your site or a Facebook group, for example.
- Come up with interesting campaigns to gather user-generated content and get more exposure on social media.
And of course, relax. It’s alright to sometimes sit back and enjoy the sales coming in through your well-oiled machine. And who knows, maybe you’ll get the best idea of how to get to the next level when you’re on a holiday.
So delegate and automate whatever you can to give yourself space to think. Small business owners tend to carry the weight of running the operations on their shoulders when often that doesn’t bring maximum results.
About the author
Murry Ivanoff is the CEO of Metrilo, e-commerce analytics, CRM, and email marketing tool. Metrilo is built for the entrepreneurs looking to create the brands of tomorrow, competing against the incumbents. It helps those aspiring brands grow sustainably through data and customer retention.