Practical Ecommerce

6 Timesaving Automation Tools for Ecommerce Merchants

Lack of time is common among business owners. Between sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, and everything else, it’s no surprise that many entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed.

The good news is there is a way to lighten the load. By automating the routine and repetitive tasks in your company, you will be able to focus less on mundane activities and devote more time to other essential tasks such as building relationships with customers or finding ways to grow your business.

Use the six tools below to put certain tasks on autopilot so you can free up more time in your busy schedule.

IFTTT — If This Then That

IFTTT — If This Then That

IFTTT — If This Then That

IFTTT lets you link different web tools and services by means of “recipes.” All recipes follow the format “if this then that” wherein “this” is a trigger and “that” is an action. IFTTT recipes allow you to automate several activities, such as posting to Facebook or sending text messages by assigning channels to the trigger and action parts of the recipe.

Say you want to automatically update your Twitter photo whenever you change your Facebook profile picture. All you need to do is create a recipe wherein a Facebook photo change is the trigger (this) and updating your Twitter image is the action (that).

Or, say, you want to automatically receive a text message every time a particular stock price rises above a specified level. For this task, you can assign stocks as the trigger and SMS as the action.

IFTTT currently supports 71 channels, including Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, SMS, and more.

It may look a bit confusing on paper, but the service makes it really easy for users to create recipes. Try it and start automating the repetitive digital tasks in your business.

Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang lets you schedule emails.

Boomerang lets you schedule emails in Gmail.

Boomerang is a Firefox and Chrome plugin that enables you to schedule emails in Gmail. Simply type your message in Gmail, specify the date when you want to send it, and you’re good to go. It even lets you create reminders if you don’t hear back from the recipient.

Boomerang is a convenient tool that can be used to automatically schedule follow-up emails or reminders and ensure that you won’t miss the chance to re-connect with your leads or clients.

And if you want a cleaner inbox but don’t want to lose track of an important message, you can “Boomerang” it by opening the message and specifying when you would like to see it again. The plugin will then archive the message, and at the time that you chose, will put it back in your inbox and star it, mark it as unread, or place it at the top of your message list.

Buffer

Buffer lets you schedule social media posts.

Buffer lets you schedule social media posts.

This clever tool enables you to schedule social media posts throughout the day. No need to manually set dates and times; Buffer lets you schedule your updates with fixed time slots, allowing you to line up your posts with just a few clicks.

What’s especially helpful about Buffer is that it can be integrated with several other apps and extensions, so you can add posts to your Buffer account from just about anywhere on the web. Want to share an article that you’re currently reading? With the Buffer browser plug-in, you can schedule it right from the web page itself.

You can also connect the tool to various RSS readers, such as Feedly, Pocket, and more so you can share posts straight from your reader.

TextExpander

TextExpander for OS X lets you assign keyboard shortcuts to your most used phrases.

TextExpander for Mac OS X lets you assign keyboard shortcuts to your most used phrases.

This is a handy tool for Mac OS X that lets you assign keyboard shortcuts to your most frequently used phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs. If you find yourself typing the same things repeatedly — dates, boilerplates, instructions — then simply add them to your snippet collection and assign keystrokes to them.

TextExpander helps you type faster, avoid your most common typos, and even fill out forms more quickly.

Rapportive

Rapportive provides public social media information for your Gmail contacts.

Rapportive provides public social media information for your Gmail contacts.

While building meaningful relationships cannot and should not be automated, Rapportive does make it a bit easier. Another browser add-on for Gmail users, Rapportive displays public social media information about your contacts inside your account.

Ever wanted to personalize your emails even more? Rapportive displays your contact’s photo, location, recent tweets, and social media profiles as you type your message, allowing you to find content, shared interests, and posts that you can reference to.

Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed lets you digitize, categorize, and save your important documents.

Shoeboxed lets you digitize, categorize, and save your important documents.

Are you drowning in receipts and other paper documents? Are you dreading having to sift through all of them when tax season rolls along? Let Shoeboxed offer up some assistance. This service provides an easy way to digitize, categorize, and archive your receipts, business cards, and other documents. It streamlines accounting and bookkeeping tasks and helps users find deductions, expenses, and other pertinent information.

Submit your receipts and other docs to Shoeboxed and the service will extract significant information — vendor, total, date, payment type — from the documents, verify them with human eyes, and then organize the data into your fully searchable account.

Jerry Jao
Jerry Jao
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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Tim Hennings October 16, 2013 Reply

    If you want to make print catalogs from your e-commerce site, another automation tool is Catalog-on-Demand. They also offer a free service to automate production of a PDF-per-product for any e-commerce site.

    • Jerry Jao February 11, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Tim, great feedback.

  2. Alex Silva October 20, 2013 Reply

    Just discovered a new Gmail chrome extension, Email Toolbox, which does everything Boomerang does plus more and is free. Also I find it cleaner.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mxhero-toolbox/ijhapcklhkanndjbdnhichfmolhiaekg

    • Jerry Jao February 11, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Alex, that is great. I will also try it out, as Boomerang now only allows you to schedule 10 sends for free a month. Appreciate your feedback very much!

  3. Matt November 10, 2013 Reply

    Jerry this is an amazing article. Is hard sometimes to keep up with all tools out there!
    I’m definitely trying out Buffer. But I guess I’m not the only one (seeing now someone else commented on this). I’ve tried mxHero a couple of weeks ago and so far it’s been my Monday’s time saver. All my inbox is amazingly organised. I’ve tried Boomerang in the past but their interface has not been working very well lately I’m afraid.

    • Jerry Jao February 11, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Matt for reading.

      I hope you’ve enjoyed using Buffer so far! Please let us know if you have other feedback!

  4. Nathan February 6, 2014 Reply

    For our Magento site we dropship with several vendors. With our order volume we have trouble keeping up with fulfilling orders with each of the vendors.

    Our most helpful automation tip is using Spark Shipping http://sparkshipping.com to automate sending of all these emails. As soon as an order comes in this service automatically send it to the correct vendor for fulfillment.

    Hope this helps!

    • Jerry Jao February 11, 2014 Reply

      THanks for sharing Nathan. Spark Shipping sounds like a good tool. Another order management tool that I have heard of that is pretty good is called “Lettuce App”. Feel free to check them out too.

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