Voice of the customer

8 e-commerce automation tools for growing SMEs

Stathis Kampylis
Stathis Kampylis
November 27, 2020
e-commerce automation tools

Covid-19 crisis has transformed how consumers shop and how retailers sell.

Everything in the customer buying journey has changed. The most significant changes to consumer behaviour will stick long-term and the landscape will continue to evolve. To remain relevant in this volatile landscape, e-commerce brands must differentiate through innovation, personalised customer experiences, product diversification, and efficient operations.

An increasing number of retailers begin to see technology and specifically automation tools and platforms as an essential component of the business and not merely a source of cost efficiency. Bringing automation to your team is a investment in efficiency and team morale. Reducing the administrative overhead of your employees gives them time to focus on what humans do best: empathy and complex problem-solving.

In this article, we'll deep dive the features, benefits and pricing for seven of the most powerful automation tools that work cross-functionally to drive bottom-line growth.

8 Automation tools for growing e-commerce brands

1. Zendesk

Zendesk Screenshot


Our friends at Zendesk (our Zendesk chat analytics integration automates customer insights) make support, sales, and customer engagement software that is quick to implement, easy to use, and scales to fit your brand's needs. The company offers a powerful CRM solution that takes care of most aspects of customer relationship management through every sales channel your brand operates on. Taking advantage of Zendesk's data processing capabilities, you can seamlessly automate aspects of your customer service that will allow your customer service team to help your customers more efficiently by assisting them when they need you the most.

Zendesk's Support suite allows your business to have natural conversations with your customers on every channel through email, chat, voice, and even social messaging apps, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, WeChat, and more. The company's Sales suite allows your brand's reps to automate lead outreach to faster and easier find and engage with more qualified prospects. Zendesk's Sales suite's contact database can also help your agents to build targeted lead lists and enrich contact information as well as automate customised email sequences.

The company offers two types of monthly subscription plans: Professional and Enterprise. Support suite's Professional plan costs £75 per agent per month while the Enterprise one costs £119 per agent per month. Sales suite's Professional and Enterprise are priced £69 and £95 per agent per month, respectively.

Check out the best Zendesk apps for the 21st century support team here.

2. HubSpot

Hubspot Screenshot

HubSpot's platform offers a full stack of sales, marketing, and CRM tools dedicated to business growth for every e-commerce brand that want to increase leads, accelerate sales, streamline customer service, or build a powerful website. The platform comprised of four hubs dedicated to marketing, sales, customer service, and content management, respectively.

The marketing hub is focused on lead generation, marketing automation and analytics, and can help your brand increase traffic, convert more prospects, and run your inbound marketing campaigns. The sales hub is a powerful CRM software that will automate tedious everyday tasks, get you a more in-depth insight into your prospective customers, and help you boost your conversion rate.

The service hub is a customer service software that will help your e-commerce brand to connect with your customers more effectively. It will take care of tickets, customer feedback, help you build a comprehensive knowledge base, and more, strengthening that way your brand loyalty. Last but not least, HubSpot's new CMS hub is a robust, marketing-focused content management software offering a drag-and-drop editor, a variety of website themes, and SEO optimisation, among others. The CMS hub gives you everything you need to build and scale a robust, optimised website that converts, and it can be a handy tool in helping your marketing team building highly personalised customer experiences.

The company offers a variety of free CRM and marketing tools like their free meeting scheduler app, online form builder, chatbot builder, live chat software, and more. On top of that, HubSpot provides excellent educational resources like their comprehensive blog, eBooks, guides, and free courses and certifications, among others. Finally, the company, besides its platform and tools, it also offers onboarding and consulting services.

Subscription packages are starting from £38 per month for individual hubs based on the number of your marketing contacts. The company offers different suites, but you can also pick and choose the hubs and tools you need to create custom bundles, tailormade to your brand's individual needs. Finally, it is worth mentioning that with HubSpot's plans and bundles, your company only pays for contacts you choose to market on. Nevertheless, you are allowed to store up to one million non-marketing contacts.


3. SentiSum

Sentisum NPS and reviews page

SentiSum generates insight from every feedback channel, including surveys, reviews and support tickets. Customer insights are a vital component to growing a business, customer retention is important as you scale and begin to lose sight of the needs of each and every customer.

As an e-commerce brand, every customer friction in the buying journey may result in basket abandonment. SentiSum will help you understand and optimise each customer touchpoint so you don't lose potential sales along the way.

Whether you have 100,000s of NPS survey results or thousand of monthly customer support tickets, SentiSum's will build you a custom AI model that'll consume data from every channel. Their platform then allows you to browse reasons for contact, sentiment drivers, and other neat insights. SentiSum has a ton of cool use cases. For example, with SentiSum you get these benefits:

  • Multi-level topic tagging means you can start high level and dig deeper: Missing Ingredient --> Chicken --> 500 live chat conversations to browse through
  • Get anomaly alerts to quickly tackle rising customer issues
  • Track any keyword you want, but also machine learning uncovers granular insight you didn't even know about
  • Automatically create support tickets for negative reviews & unhappy CSAT and NPS survey results so you can close the loop
  • Daily digest email keeps everyone across the companies finger on the customer's pulse

For support ticket analytics or any other customer feedback, SentiSum will help you better understand your customer's voice and enable you to tackle friction points leading to customer churn. SentiSum's packages start from £1,000 per month.


4. Google Alerts

Google Alerts Screenshot


Google Alerts is an excellent, often underrated, marketing automation tool that allows you to do market research, competition research, and monitor the web for mentions of your brand. You can sign in on your Google account and choose to set alerts for specific keywords, products, or brands. Whenever new content appears on the web for these keywords, you receive an email from Google Alerts with a link to that mention, so you do not have to monitor the web every day yourself.

Google Alerts is an incredibly useful marketing automation tool for monitoring your band's and your competitors' online presence. You can effortlessly stay informed about what customers think about your brand, what your competitors are up to, what is trending in your niche, and more. There are indeed plenty of highly sophisticated competitor analysis tools out there, but Google Alerts is simple, effective, and most importantly, free of charge.


5. Automate

Automate Screenshot


Automate.io allows you to automate marketing, sales, and business processes by integrating all cloud applications your company is using and create multi-app workflows across them. Build everything from simple to overly complex automation workflows in minutes by visually creating integrations with drag-and-drop data mapping. Then, add delay, conditional logic, format data, and more. The platform supports all leading cloud/SaaS applications for CRM, marketing, e-commerce, customer service, payments, web form creation, and more.

With Automate.io, you can automate your order processing and streamline order payments, invoicing and bookkeeping across all your sales channels and payments apps. From a marketing point of view, you can connect your landing pages, email app, and CRM and run automated marketing workflows across them. If you are only using five automations and up to 300 actions per month, Automate.io is free of charge. If you need more than that, paid subscription plans start from $49 per month.

AI for customer service ebook

6. Buffer

Buffer Screenshot


Buffer's is an extremely useful social media marketing automation tool that allows online store owners to orchestrate and automate their social media posts and campaigns. You merely need to schedule your posts, and Buffer will publish them automatically on your chosen channel. Buffer allows you to craft, plan, and get an at-a-glance view of all the content you have lined up for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, all from one easy to use dashboard.

Buffer's social media analytics and reporting provide in-depth insights into your social media performance across multiple accounts or specific social channels and offers valuable recommendations to boost reach, engagement, and subsequently, sales. Monthly subscriptions start from $15 for the publishing suite and $35 for the analytics one and price depends on the number of users, social channels, and scheduled posts. Buffer also has a free plan from which one user can manage up to three social channels and up to ten scheduled posts.


7. Omnisend

Omnisend Screenshot


Omnisend is the all-in-one, e-commerce-focused marketing automation platform that will help your brand sell more by converting your visitors and retaining your customers. Reach your customers with personalised messages using Omnisend's powerful automation workflows and boost your sales. The platform allows you to grow your subscriber list with a wide variety of signup forms and send converting newsletters created with their easy-to-use editor. In addition to creating automated emails and push notifications, you can also connect to customers via Facebook, Instagram, or SMS notifications.

Omnisend works with all major e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and others. Omnisend's platform can automate your entire omnichannel marketing strategy by integrating email with your online store, social media, and a variety of sales channels to provide personalised messaging that drives sales. Pricewise there is a free subscription package limited to 15,000 emails per month, while their Standard package costs $16 per month and the Pro one $99 per month. The company also offers custom enterprise solutions.


8. Shiptheory

shiptheory homepage


Shiptheory is a cloud-based shipping management platform that connects retailers with the world's best carriers like Royal Mail, USPS, FedEx, and more, to automate shipping labels, manifests, and tracking. Shiptheory imports orders automatically from all your sales channels like your Magento, Shopify, or Xero account, into a single, easy-to-use platform that offers multiple-user support, advanced reporting features, and an excellent customer support team.

Shiptheory's intelligent shipping rules engine allows you to automate every step of your shipping process based on a combination of shipping destination, order weight, value, product SKU's, and more. Additionally, Shiptheory's in-depth shipping reporting suite provides the vital decision-making data you need to identify the most popular delivery services and spot cost reduction and customer service improvement opportunities ahead of your competition. If you ship less than 200 orders a month with just one carrier, Shiptheory is free. Otherwise, subscription packages range from £25 to £300 per month depending on the number of shipments and users. The company also offers custom enterprise solutions.


Final thoughts

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the retail industry. The Covid-19 crisis accelerated several underlying trends and greatly increased online sales and customer contacts for e-commerce brands. Brands build their processes to cope with new trends will stay relevant, increase revenue and strengthen their brand's loyalty.

Adapting to the new normal entails thorough research and careful planning, and these are most definitely very time-consuming activities. And since time is undeniably a luxury for every successful e-commerce brand these days, the bulk of the activities comprising of everyday repetitive tasks can and should be automated through e-commerce automation tools and platforms. The less time you spend dealing with repetitive tasks, the more time you have to develop your brand and prepare for the post-pandemic retail landscape.

In this article, we introduced you to the crème de la crème of e-commerce automation tools and platforms. Obviously, every brand is unique and has specific needs. Therefore, with so many options available in the market, it is essential for you to determine your company most needed features before making a purchase decision.

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This blog is a guest blog written by Stathis Kampylis. Stathis is the marketing and communication coordinator at Shiptheory, a best-in-class shipping management platform that connects retailers with the world's best carriers to automate shipping labels, manifests, and tracking. He is the main contributor to Shiptheory's E-commerce and Shipping Blog.

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