Chances are that you’ve automated your e-commerce business.  However, even the smallest of e-commerce businesses are complex and need some kind of automation to manage everything.  But, what does automation mean to you and how automated are you?

You may think you are automated because you have a sophisticated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or you may simply be using QuickBooks for accounting and inventory.  You have access to shipping information and a system that prints labels for you.  At the end of the day you can run reports showing how many orders were processed, and run another report to see inventory status.

The problem is that this automation still requires trained order processing personnel to manage each step or, even worse, they may have to duplicate the entry of information into each software application opening the door for human error.

And then, of course, there’s EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) when it’s required to do business with a particular customer.  This can take two basic forms:  First the EDI provider you’re working with may be simply providing a secure translation and data exchange for you, such as a Value Added Network (VAN) or they may be a full service EDI provider that has integrated with your business processes and helps you manage order processing.  In either case, it just means more complexity and cost.

The truth is that automation should eliminate these problems, complexities and costs.  So, what should automation REALLY do for you?

  1. It should plug in to and enhance the existing investment in your ERP or accounting / inventory automation software and fill in the missing gaps.
  2. It should require little to no trained staff to manage order fulfillment.
  3. It should be intelligent and self-managing so that orders are processed accurately and timely, even when there’s nobody in the office.  
  4. It should communicate seamlessly with your customers via EDI without needing a 3rd party to charge you for its use.  
  5. It should automatically communicate with shipping carriers and alert you to shipment status.
  6. It should easily plug into your warehouse pick, pack and ship operations.
  7. It should not only automate but SIMPLIFY the way you work.

When your business is more connected and truly automated the possibilities become limitless.