Managing an ecommerce business comes with many challenges. As many online stores are SMBs (small to medium-sized business), it is hard to afford the level of sophistication that major retailers use to increase their efficiency. As a result, it is easy for things to fall behind or slip through the cracks.
The key to improving efficiency is automating wherever you can. How much better would your business be if you could notify the warehouse sooner to process orders faster, track social media mentions, manage customer service issues, and take action the moment your site goes down?
Enter If This Then That (often referred to as IFTTT), a web-based platform that helps you integrate various channels (social media, Dropbox, SMS, and much more) with one another based on a variety of “triggers” that kick off an action. This system can be used to automate much of your life or business. Each conditional activity you set up is called a recipe, which is made up of a trigger and an action.
Here are a few of the recipes I use on a personal level that may help you better understand how it works:
- Every day at 5pm, turn on a WEMO-connected light switch at my house
- When I arrive at the office (based on my phone’s GPS location), add an entry into a Google Drive spreadsheet so I can track my hours at the office
- If it is going to rain tomorrow, send me a text message
- If I post a photo on Instagram, upload it into a Dropbox folder
- If I text “escape” to IFTTT, call me with a “fake” call so I can get out of an awkward situation (haven’t used that yet)
The first thing you need to do to automate your business is to identify a series of triggers that will initiate your actions.
- New order received
- Certain time of day or day of the month
- Website is down
- New return (RMA) request
- New lead comes in
- Mention on social media
- Competitor product price drops (w/TrackIf)
- Inventory reaches a certain level
Once you have your triggers figured out, you need to set up an action that will be initiated. The following are some sample actions that you might consider automating:
- Send a text message
- Flash light or change light bulb color
- Add a line to a spreadsheet
- Send a phone or desktop notification
- Save to Dropbox or Google Drive
- Set a reminder
- Send an email to a staff member
- Send a Twitter Direct Message (DM) or tweet something
- Adjust the thermostat
Top Recipes to Automate your Online Store
Here are some of our favorite ecommerce recipes to get you started. We have even created the recipes for you to quickly add them in.
Order placed, send notification to fulfillment crew
The ability to respond quickly is key to keeping your customers satisfied. Why not ensure that your fulfillment crew or warehouse staff get notified right away?
One way you can accomplish this is to trigger an email to up to 5 members of the team when an email arrives in Gmail with a subject that matches “New Order Received” (or equivalent). Here is a sample New Order Received Recipe we have created for you to use:
Website went down, send SMS & push phone notification to remind you to turn off Adwords
Working in online marketing for ecommerce stores, I have many clients waste hundreds or even thousands of dollars because their website went down and no one bothered to turn off the paid search. Don’t waste precious dollars — automate and ensure you are alerted immediately.
One way to accomplish this is using a service such as Pingdom and Uptime Robot (free). When your site goes down, they will send you a notification via email or SMS that can be used as an IFTTT trigger. Create an action that sends a text message or push notification to your phone (or your online marketer’s phone) with a reminder to pause Adwords campaigns.
You can use our Website is Down, Pause Adwords Android Notification Recipe to accomplish this:
Customer mentions you on Twitter, add a line to a spreadsheet
Social media is an incredible tool that can be used for online marketing, branding, and customer service. However, as there are so many social media platforms and those in charge often wear many hats, it can be a real challenge to stay on top of it. What happens when a customer complains online and it falls through the cracks?
Why not see all social media mentions in a Google spreadsheet where you can not only track them, but ensure that someone has responded. Include a couple of additional columns in your spreadsheet to track if a mention has been responded to, who did it, and when. To accomplish this, we use a simple IFTTT recipe that adds a new row to your spreadsheet upon each mention:
Send an email reminder to run Google Analytics reports at the end of the month
As many SMB owners and managers have so much on their plates, it can be easy to forget to stop and analyze what is happening. At least in a brick and mortar business, you have anecdotal evidence based on what you see happening. With an ecommerce store, some owners go months without reviewing what visitors are doing. This can be a critical mistake, as you might not only be missing anomalies that could cause you to lose visitors at a drastic rate, but missing opportunities to fix those anomalies and improve your business.
Ensure that you are staying on top of your store’s activity by sending yourself a monthly reminder to review your site analytics. The following recipe will send you a text message on a particular day of the month to remind you to review your Google Analytics performance:
Create a task for your Sales Manager to review pricing when a competitor’s product price drops
With the global competition your online business faces, product pricing is more more complicated. While it only takes minutes for a customer to do comparison shopping, it can be a real challenge to stay on top of pricing for your product catalog.
If you have even a decent volume of products, it can be very difficult to monitor pricing across multiple competitors. Trackif simplifies this process by monitoring product pricing on a URL for you. Go one step further with the recipe below and create a to-do for your sales manager on Todoist to ensure he/she follows through:
More Ecommerce Recipes to Consider
This is just a sampling, a starting point really, and that’s the true beauty of If This Then That. It opens the door for almost endless possibilities to automate and improve your business. Here are a few more ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
- Send a reminder when inventory gets low
- Send promo code to each new social media follower
- Pause Adwords when site goes down (this will be a little more complicated)
- Upload customer Instagram photos you are tagged in to Dropbox for later use
- Save articles for the whole team to read
- Flash the lights or change the LED light color when new sales come in
- Adjust the thermostat to make the room colder when sales are low 😉
We hope that this post helps you to find new efficiencies as you manage your ecommerce store. The potential to automate is incredible and limited only by your imagination and channels available on IFTTT. Please be sure to share your innovative ecommerce recipes with the rest of us in the comments section below.