The events of 2020 have forced businesses to change and adapt like never before and going digital seems to be the trend that many are following. But as they take on online responsibilities, some for the very first time at that, what they are finding is a need to change management and operational practices.
While digital has offered a lifeline during periods of forced closures and lockdown restrictions, physical stores and sales channels shouldn’t be forgotten. Rather, it has only highlighted the importance of an omnichannel approach.
So, now that omnichannel is becoming increasingly common – whether that was an intentional strategic decision or one that was made to claw back some revenue amid market uncertainty – businesses are facing new challenges relating to the management and monitoring of the additional sales funnels.
Fortunately, we are in a day and age where automation is advancing in ways we could never have imagined. What this means for businesses, then, is the ability to leverage automation tactics to streamline processes and drive future success. And here’s how…
1. Reduce the admin burden
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of omnichannel automation is a reduced admin burden. Systems can be put in place to monitor orders from multiple sources and then send communication messages through different channels, for example.
Platforms, such as VTEX, also enable software updates to be performed automatically and then house all data related to customers, orders, suppliers and shipment in one, easy to use, centralised dashboard.
What this does is minimise the need for paperwork, physical filing systems and hands-on admin activities, which employees will need to be trained on and then made responsible for. As the need for resources, such as time, training and employee-related budgets are reduced, savings can be distributed to other business-critical areas.
Going forward, market conditions are expected to be difficult. Any savings you can make now will serve the business well in the future and set it up for long-term success.
Automation strategies can also be implemented within your supply chain, which becomes increasingly complex when you have multiple channels to nurture.
But with an automated approach, you can align the various points of your commercial network to create greater efficiency and encourage cost savings. These points can include everything from suppliers and logistics providers to storage services.
An example of how this could be implemented is a trigger that is set off when stock has reached a certain level. This can then alert the supplier and automatically place an order. All with little involvement from you.
Automation, therefore, enables a more efficient collaborative process from source to consumer. As well as saving all parties costs, there is also less waste being created which allows the business as a whole to become more sustainable in its practices.
3. Create consistent customer experiences
This is one of the most difficult, but incredibly important things to get right for an omnichannel brand. But automation offers a way to overcome the challenge.
No matter what sector you’re in or the product or service you’re selling, a customer’s purchasing decision is achieved through six touchpoints with a brand. An omnichannel approach, therefore, offers greater opportunity to reach customers, both online and offline. However, this can only be effective if each interaction is consistent.
While a centralised platform allows this to be monitored and managed, automation can work to take interactions up a notch through relevancy and personalisation.
For example, email communications can be automated in order for each individual customer to receive messages that are relevant to them. These can be triggered by their actions, such as click-throughs and opens. The benefit this offers is more targeted activity that is less of a strain on budget and has a higher chance of encouraging conversions.
4. Predict trends and act accordingly
Trends and patterns in both consumer habits and market conditions evolve over time. To better inform our predictions of these, we can use data and insights that have been gathered from centralised automated systems, and particularly, those with machine learning capability.
By integrating more processes with these systems, the more data there is to be collected. And with more data, you can expect insight to be meaningful and richer in value to your business, especially when it comes to trend predictions.
For example, earlier this year, businesses were faced with issues involving overstock when retail and commercial markets shut down, causing consumer demand for certain products and services to decrease significantly. While the extent to which the pandemic would impact markets was unpredictable, the monitoring of smaller shifts in habits and factors could have helped make some savings.
These changes might not have been noticeable through the human eye, however. But the wider and analytical view provided by data and insights could have.
Therefore, to avoid facing similar issues in the future, businesses will seek a more data-driven responsive approach and automation offers just that.
5. Make informed marketing decisions
Similarly, data can be collected for more specific business activities, too. Marketing for instance can benefit massively through automation strategies which align multichannel techniques and then provide a centralised overview, which is more detailed and accurate.
For example, PPC advertising activity can be optimised through automated bidding and ad extensions. As well as reducing the manual management responsibility, which we’ve already outlined the benefit for, it can maximise the return on your investment, too.
Many businesses will be battling budgets at the moment, looking for ways they can save money. Marketing is often one of the first activities to face cuts, but this just shows how you can make cost savings without compromising reach and customer engagement.
So, while automation offers solutions to the current challenges being faced by businesses, it can also set them up well for the future. Ultimately, the future for omnichannel brands is bright, but only if they are willing to let technology do what it does best and relieve some of the strain.
To find out more about how you can integrate automation into your business activities, get in touch with our team today.