This is a guest post from Charles Palleschi of Spark Shipping.
eCommerce was explosively profitable in 2020. In spite of the pandemic, eCommerce sales grew a whopping 40.3% from 20219 to 2020—and that was just in the US.
There’s so much opportunity in the eCommerce world for dropshippers to make a good living. But scaling your operation requires a lot of juggling, and as you grow, you’re bound to drop the ball on a few things.
At a certain point, you can’t hustle and grind your way to the top. At least, not by yourself.
Dropshipping on a global scale means agreeing to a 24/7, always-on workload. If it’s just you steering the ship, that’s a recipe for burnout and inefficiencies—neither of which are profitable.
Fortunately, you don’t need to run your dropshipping operation solo, and you don’t even have to hire employees if you don’t want them. Automation is a savvy dropshipping strategy that streamlines your business with an assist from technology.
If you’re struggling to turn a profit because of competition, red tape, fees, and time constraints, it’s high time to automate your dropshipping business.
Before you do anything: automate the right tasks
Automation is so important for profitable dropshipping. It takes nagging, time-consuming tasks out of your hands so you can focus on more important tasks. So the more you automate, the more time you save and the more money you earn.
The tricky thing about automation, though, is that you can’t automate everything. It also means you need a solid plan backing your dropshipping business so you’ll scale more easily over time.
Before you go crazy with automation, make sure that the task you want to automate is actually suited for automation.
Target repetitive tasks: It’s hard outsourcing something like graphic design to robots because it’s an innately creative, human-centered task. But moving inventory data between your system and your supplier? That’s a repetitive task that’s perfect for automation. Bonus: the robots will do this with way more precision than you, reducing errors.
Choose the right tool: Chances are, there are a ton of tools on the market for task automation. We recommend choosing tools that integrate well with your existing infrastructure, which might mean downloading a Shopify app or WooCommerce extension.
Measure your results: It’s tempting to automate your business and put everything on autopilot. But “automated” doesn’t mean “ignore this forever.” You should still put human eyes on the machines’ work to make sure everything is going smoothly. Who knows? You might catch inefficiencies or problems with your tool. Always, always double-check your automations to get the most bang for your buck.
5 ways to automate your dropshipping business
You can’t automate absolutely everything in your business, but there are some good candidates that will save you the most time. Streamline your dropshipping operation and become more profitable with these 5 dropshipping automation ideas.
1) Social media
- Plan, write, and schedule posts for multiple accounts.
- Monitor your social media platforms in one dashboard.
- Generate automatic reports.
Of course, you still need to put the “social” in “social media.” Make time to check social media at least once a day to address customer DMs, comments, and shares. If that’s too much, consider hiring a community manager to engage with your shoppers for a few hours every week.
2) Email marketing
The stats don’t lie: one in three of your email subscribers will buy something from you. As an added boost, 78% of brands say they’ve seen an increase in email engagement since 2019.
Clearly, dropshippers need email marketing. It’s an affordable, efficient way to get in front of your shoppers when they’re ready to buy. Problem is, nobody has the time to send 1,000 personalized emails.
That’s why email marketing automation is so important. Consider using it for…
Welcome emails: Share discount codes with new subscribers, alert them to upcoming sales, and plug your content. The welcome email series sets the tone for your relationship with the shopper—and it happens automatically. Just write the template once and let it rip.
Abandoned cart emails: Cart abandonment rates were 77% in 2019. You spend a lot of time and money convincing shoppers to browse your products; don’t let them get away! Automated cart abandonment series, which come standard with providers like MailChimp, help you recapture business at scale with zero added effort.
Personalized emails: Consider connecting your email solution with your CRM. If you segment your data correctly, you have the freedom to hyper-personalize emails based on customer preferences. For example, if shoppers love browsing your shoe collection, put them in a shoe-specific drip campaign that offers special bundles, promos, or discounts. 52% of customers say they don’t even read generic emails, so use automation to give your brand an edge.
3) Fulfillment and inventory management
Inventory management is an important yet boring part of managing your eCommerce brand. Instead of obsessing over purchase orders, you can automate the entire inventory process, which includes:
- Order fulfillment: Instead of fulfilling products manually, get a tool for that! (Might we recommend Deliverr?)
- Supplier onboarding: If you’re growing at lightning speed, consider creating a portal to train your suppliers on your systems.
- Product import: Automate your feed by integrating your data with your suppliers’. Spark Shipping allows dropshippers to automatically import product data to your systems. It’s that easy.
4) Customer feedback
If you’ve been ignoring reviews up until now, it’s time to wake up. 90% of eCommerce shoppers consult reviews before they buy anything online, and if your shop doesn’t have a lot of trustworthy reviews, your customers will go elsewhere.
Instead of painstakingly asking every single customer to submit a review, you can automate the feedback process. If you’re on Shopify, try an app like ReviewNudge to ask shoppers to share their experience. We also like Arrivala for collecting and sharing product reviews.
Once you gather tons of product reviews, be sure to share them via:
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Your website
- Your product listing pages
Customers are 63% more likely to buy something if your site shares plenty of reviews, so don’t hold back.
5) Customer service
Don’t get us wrong: humans should still be at the heart of your customer service processes. You can’t completely automate customer service, but automation can remove plenty of time-wasting tasks from your plate.
In reality, successful customer service automation for dropshippers looks like:
- Chatbots: Get a lot of customer chats? Install a chatbot like Drift. It has both chatbot features as well as a robust platform for human customer service agents, too.
- FAQ pages: Answer your ten most-asked questions on a simple FAQ page and watch your email inbox get a lot smaller.
- Help portals: If you sell a more high-end or complex product, you might want to create a help portal on your website. The Shopify app HelpCenter is a good option, as well as Moxtra.
79% of customers want human customer service. So, no matter how much you automate here, you’ll still want to outsource customer calls, emails, and chats to a provider like Zendesk. Instead of managing everything yourself, trust a vendor to do the dirty work while you focus on more value-added tasks.
The bottom line
Dropshipping is ruthlessly cutthroat. In a global economy where your customers can buy from just about anyone, you need every advantage you can get. Edge out your competitors by building a faster, sleeker dropshipping brand that moves fast.
When time is literally money, you can’t afford inefficiencies. Automation is the best way to scale a dropshipping operation without the sky-high costs of hiring employees. Try automating these 5 time-consuming dropshipping tasks so you can focus on bigger deals, better products, and profitable growth.