Our Inspiration for E-commerce Automation Came from an Italian Online Store

Time is a precious commodity if you want to run your own business, but unfortunately, time is scarce. You need to have the correct product listed on your site, be able to fulfil orders round the clock, as well as process and deliver packages quickly.

Increasing the complexity of your online shopping processes will be even harder to manage. So how do you manage your time to enable you to attract new clients while keeping everything else going smoothly? The answer lies in automated e-commerce.

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Table of Contents

Why e-commerce automation matters

We all spend many hours doing a billion small tasks a week. No matter the size of the company, you can easily waste time on handling hundreds of smaller tasks that take just one minute. If these tasks accumulate, they can easily waste entire hours or even days of your time.

Larger customer base, increased profits and greater success will always be exciting. But alongside the growth, your company will inevitably become more demanding and busier. This is an important challenge, since we only have a limited amount of hours per day to dedicate to the business.

Automate your e-commerce business and you’ll have less stress to bear. E-commerce automation simplifies tedious and mundane tasks in your business that otherwise consume a lot of time.

E-commerce automation – save yourself 100s of hours of work

The current situation caused a crisis for many sectors, but presented great opportunities for others. Our mission is to accelerate and help online stores grow, so we try to look at current events from a better angle.

You can find evidence in the story belows, where we automated the randomness and availability of products in an online store using a script and achieved great results.

What is an e-commerce script?

An e-commerce script is a set of predefined rules that helps your online store get onboard with all the various features and functions. It makes changes to the process, thereby making selling easier in the long run.

Why is a script important for e-commerce automation:

  1. Google Shopping: If you do not have up-to-date product availability, you risk banning the sale of your product within Google Merchants/Shopping.
  2. Please customers: Orders will only be created for what you can actually deliver to customers. You will not disappoint customers by allowing them to order goods that you cannot deliver by the promised date.
  3. An effective solution: Many online stores still have not automated these tasks, yet so little is really needed. We know how to go about e-commerce automation. If you are interested in how you can save dozens, or even hundreds, of hours, read on.

Manual work comes at the expense of lost time

Let’s look at our customer https://www.concreteshop.it/ and how we changed their life through e-commerce automation.

The first online store they were running, BMXshop.it, focused on the sale of BMX bicycles and components. In order to expand the business, they opened a physical, brick-and-mortar store, which required a large investment into equipment. They focused mainly on streetwear, BMX bicycles and skateboards.

Not long after, the owners were forced to close the shop due to Covid regulations.

They did not remain passive and invested the last of their money into creating a new online store, Concreteshop.it, which works on the Shoptet system. Here, they sell streetwear clothing and skateboards with accessories from distributors.

Initially, the online stores uploaded current data on product availability manually, without any automation. All tasks such as importing products, obtaining images, writing descriptions, calculating prices and others were regularly repeated.

The solution lies in e-commerce automation

After I familiarised myself with the current status, I suggested that this system should be automated and thus improved, simplified, and shortened. I requested access to the distributors’ websites in order to create the script in Google Sheets.

This is an example of 1 setup file in which we defined specific product parameters, such as:

  • minimum selling price per 1 piece,
  • surcharge at the level of the entire assortment, category or brand,
  • the category it is under in the online store,
  • setting the value of VAT,
  • the default value of the number of units in stock for products that the distributor lists on the web as available. For example, bearings or wheels are bought in packs of 2 units, so it does not make sense to set the stock status of just one unit. In contrast, skateboards are usually sold in units of one.

As a result, it was no longer necessary to manually check the availability of products and update the data in the online store. All that is needed is a short, five-minute script update. Cookies will be copied from the supplier’s website to Google Spreadsheets, product availability information will be updated and the script will download the necessary data stated above by itself.

Because reseller sites don’t have many properties and separate variables, we needed to extract data from the product titles. Using a simple function, we extracted sizes in inches so that the online store can be filtered according to these parameters. We also extracted brands from product names.

The margin for the product was then automatically recalculated (by brand or category).

After clicking on “Generate CSV”, the file can be saved, exported and uploaded to the Shoptet interface. The online store’s warehouse is updated and only those products that are available in the warehouse and that the customer can order are displayed on the website.

Done and dusted in only 2 minutes.

The result of e-commerce automation: Higher sales & better relationships with suppliers

This online store is now aiming to become the largest distributor of skateboard and BMX accessories in Italy. This is mainly due to the fact that their website displays the products currently on offer across 3 different suppliers.

Before creating the script, we contacted vendors to provide us with a product feed from which we could download product availability. But only a few suppliers in Italy know that such a thing even exists, so we had to deal with this without them.

Dropshipping as a welcome side effect

After we started the imports, the suppliers were left in silent amazement. They decided to lower the minimum consumption limits. They also allowed the online store to send a courier directly to the distributor’s warehouse and bring the goods to the customer. As a result, we began dropshipping.

This was a welcome ‘side effect’ of our solution, which also helped customers receive their goods within 24 hours. The approach of this particular online store has made suppliers think about the future of their own businesses. Skate or BMX products are sold mainly by Austrian, German or British online stores and almost no domestic ones.

By building (already pretty much the largest domestic) online store, they have been able to establish an excellent position with suppliers. There are three key aspects to it:

  1. It helps Italian suppliers sell more, as their goods were not being sold during lockdown, but instead were delivered to foreign online stores in Italy.
  2. It helps the online store have a wide range of products and become a more important player.
  3. Finally, it enables the customer to obtain goods from a local business and supplier, benefitting from delivery within 24 hours at the same, favourable price compared to other online stores.

A suitable e-commerce automation solution for small and medium-sized online stores

How long does it take to create a script like this? The answer depends on the size of the online store and the distributor. This particular script took 2 days for the first Italian online store, about 4 hours for the next distributor and another 4 hours for the third distributor.

However, each distributor works differently, has different categories, different quantities of products etc., so the script is not universal. It cannot be copied, but it can be customised.

Who is this service suitable for? It works for any online store that gets its products from a distributor but does not have its own products or product availability information. This script will also save you time, as customers do not have to cancel their orders due to unavailability of stock.

If you are interested in a consultation how to push boundaries of your business, let us know now.

Thanks to the Dexfinity Editorial Staff for Creating This Article

Samo works at Dexfinity as a Master of Client Development. His superpower is finding solutions even when Google is already hitting its limits. He efficiently prepares scripts to automate campaign management at all levels. His responsibility is the quality and efficiency of his team’s work, technology, and also PPC campaigns management.

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Michal Lichner

Michal Lichner
Head of Sales & Biz. Development
+421 911 585 689
michal.lichner@dexfinity.com

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Tomáš Karaba
Sales & Biz. Development
+421 904 979 851
tomas.karaba@dexfinity.com

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Pavol Adamčák
Executive Director
+421 918 435 105
pavol.adamcak@dexfinity.com

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