With modern e-commerce platforms, setting up and running an online store is a piece of cake. However, once the business gets up to speed, orders increase, and customer relationships begin to play a role, you might have trouble keeping everything in place.
Almost a third of all e-commerce businesses are using some form of artificial intelligence to streamline their processes. To optimize your business, you don’t even have to choose the latest method such as AI. You can always go for a traditional approach, which can be just as effective as the latest trend.
Overall, the best advice for process optimization is to be innovative, yet critical, with your approaches. A combination of modern and traditional methods usually yields the most benefits. Relying only on trends might create new costs and lead you to a one-way street. On the other hand, traditional methods won’t bring you a massive advantage over your competitors.
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Process optimization and its benefits
The goal of process optimization is to reduce the cost of a process and make it more efficient at the same time. In this way, you’re improving your business at a significant rate, helping you endure hard periods and reap the benefits of others.
Having a detailed plan and understanding of your processes helps with mitigating risks that your business is exposed to. Once you standardize your processes and understand their weak points, upcoming troubles can be avoided or have their impact lowered.
Before identifying the bottlenecks of your business, your budget can be strained with unnecessary expenses. Poorly used resources, misunderstandings in certain departments, or inefficient employees might all lead to increased costs. Once you grasp the source of your problem, and find their solution, you can minimize these expenses.
In the section about the consequences of poorly optimized processes, you will learn about the importance of compliance. To keep it short here, by monitoring your processes you will be able to make your processes more transparent and compliant.
While it’s easy to observe businesses in terms of numbers and math equations, they are much more than that. The satisfaction provided to the customers through engagement with your company isn’t always easily measurable. Yet, optimized processes are quite powerful in improving customer experience.
If you’re running your online store by yourself, optimizing processes will make it easier for you to manage them. But if you have at least one employee, you will make their life so much easier. Streamlined processes will remove any ambiguities in the processes of your employees and increase their productivity.
Ways to optimize processes
Once you understand the benefits of optimized processes as well as the consequences of not having them, you will likely decide to apply this knowledge. While there are endless ways of making your business better, these methods will satisfy the needs of many entrepreneurs.
Imagine a world without an X-ray machine. You experience pain in your leg, and you’re sure that there’s something wrong with it, yet you can’t exactly grasp what. Doctors might examine it, but without an X-ray, nobody can give it a complete diagnosis.
This was the world of business processes in the past. From academic papers and theory, experts have devised a method called business process mining that aims to give businesses an insight into their processes.
Process mining has been referred to as a perfect combination of data and process science. By pairing these two together, you will be able to pick up the crumbs of data that you, your employees, and your customers left and make advantageous steps in improving your processes.
This method is conducted by utilizing software that collects info about desktop tasks, transactions, and other forms of log data. E-commerce businesses are always free to decide which data is the most beneficial for their operations.
An important disclaimer is that you need to be transparent and careful with collecting user and employee data. Local and international regulations have strict policies on individual privacies, and breaking them can be counterproductive.
Automatized customer support
One of the most important aspects of providing your customers with an enjoyable experience is to have a customer support feature on your website. Even though you think that there isn’t a high chance of customers having ambiguities, this feature can be of great help.
E-commerce businesses should provide customers with answers about the details of the products. Info about how the products are delivered or made is also frequently asked about. Customer support in a traditional sense would be hiring a person who will be online for a part of the day and give away previously mentioned answers.
However, not only this isn’t the quickest way of solving customer problems, it’s probably the most expensive one. Instead, you can implement automated bots that utilize AI or your knowledge base to provide quick answers.
Knowledge base can make the customers more comfortable, and secure in their purchase. Streamlining this process can help you save money, and ensure a better experience for the customer. Furthermore, this method is trackable through software, allowing you to continuously improve your customer support feature.
Using customer relations management tools
Small businesses are attractive to customers for their down-to-earth and direct contact with their customers. While individuals might consider CRM unnecessary because their business is too small, there is no reason to avoid it if it’s within their budget.
CRM is a type of software that serves as a centralized repository for various types of interactions with your customers. This software is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to handling customers, as it can provide you with automation, help with decision-making, but also with various customer support features.
To get back to the first point I’ve made, even though your business isn’t as big, early implementation of CRM can help you scale it in the long run.
Consequences of failing to optimize processes
Optimization isn’t a word that goes hand-in-hand with failure. If one aspect of a business isn’t “optimized” it usually means that it functions below possible or favorable levels. But, it’s important to consider all the ways in which sub-par processes can lead to unfortunate circumstances.
For e-commerce businesses, one of the most obvious problems is decreased sales figures, Whether the reason behind that is poor marketing or poor reviews, you have to analyze these processes and see how to improve them. An obvious solution from this list could be using process mining.
You can also suffer from being too successful. Imagine you’re running an online store that sells hand-made bracelets. One day, influencer stumbles upon your business, gets amazed by your work, and decides to promote you for free. Overnight, from a couple of sales weekly, you receive a hundred orders.
Unprepared for this popularity, you start to struggle to keep up with the demand, the bracelet quality is lowered, and customers see that your products are always out of stock. This is why it’s important to have a backup plan for situations where the demand increases, and that both your production and marketing are streamlined.
The largest blow to your business might come from a legal direction. Whether that’s a local law in your country or an international regulation, your business has to comply with it. Not complying with important privacy laws such as CCPA or GDPR wrecked both corporations and small businesses in the past.
Not only you can be fined for breaking these regulations, but your business’s reputation suffers, as well as your personal image as an entrepreneur. Utilizing adequate software, that helps you with documentation and compliance can help you optimize your business’s security and customer privacy. Doing this manually isn’t always the most optimal way.
Smooth processes will skyrocket your success in e-commerce
Whether you’re strained with only a few sales a month, or you’re running an e-commerce business with international clients, scaling is ensured through optimized processes. You always be able to endure more traffic, sales, and customers than you’re expecting.
Both internal and external processes should be supported with the right methods and technology. The consequences of failing to optimize your processes can range from a small percentage of lowered sales to large sums of money in fines.
Optimizing processes won’t only prevent your business from suffering a terrible blow, but also improve its efficiency and growth on the market. Keep in mind that optimizing processes is only an extension of good products and operations, not their substitution.
Veljko is a student of information technology that paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming and cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway.