The authentic buyer’s guide to Shopify automation
May 5, 2020

The authentic buyer’s guide to Shopify automation

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Where to automate your business – and with what apps

Shopify is one of the biggest names in e-commerce, so big that it’s hard to remember a time when the platform didn’t exist. Over the past 15 years, Shopify has well and truly carved its name into the web application hall of fame, offering traditional retailers and entrepreneurs alike the freedom and wealth of e-commerce.

With a myriad of different e-commerce platforms available to today’s keen entrepreneurs, there are many reasons why Shopify’s star shines so bright. However, that doesn’t always guarantee business success. Those who have gone on to build multi-million-dollar empires using Shopify know that the way to the top involves hard work – and automation.

Above and beyond the other benefits of Shopify (discussed further below) are its customisation abilities – in other words, it’s super easy to integrate with several automation apps and tools that can help you optimise your business operations. 

Table of contents:

  • Shopify – your e-commerce platform of choice
  • Why automate your Shopify business
  • Which areas of business should you automate?
  • App recommendations plus reviews

Shopify – your e-commerce platform of choice

With over 1 million businesses in 175 countries making upwards of $155 billion US, Shopify has got to be doing something right. It’s a platform built with best practice in mind, providing everything a business needs to quickly and easily launch its online operations.

In general, Shopify is great for stores who sell a single product or service. When choosing what to sell on Shopify, products that require minimal configuration are good options. It also works well for stores that sell a handful of products in a variety of colours, sizes or materials. Plus, it can be used by store owners who operate a retail store and want to expand their business online.

Shopify is easy to set up and use – you don’t have to worry about installing software or paying for web hosting. Its interface is intuitive and user-friendly. Building your own brand is effortless – you can choose one of Shopify’s many (we’re talking hundreds!) professionally designed themes, many of which take into consideration conversion practices, or you can create your own. Because it’s a hosted solution, Shopify takes care of upgrades and maintenance so it’s secure and reliable 100% of the time.

The list goes on – SEO friendly, 24/7 customer support, mobile responsiveness, speedy, built-in payment gateway and variant support, marketing tools and abandoned cart recovery.

But – it’s Shopify’s app store that offers a treasure trove of functionality and, most importantly, automation.

Why automate your Shopify business

Even though Shopify makes starting an online business easy and breezy, running a business can be anything but that. A typical day for a Shopify seller can quickly overfill with menial, time-consuming, manual tasks that keep the business running, but don’t really add any value or move it forward. As your business grows, things can quickly get out of control.

Why spend your time treading water, when you could swim? The beauty of automation is it eliminates the need for manual intervention by moving data from one system to another for you. Imagine not having to do that work yourself! How much more time – and money – you’d have to focus on growing your business even bigger!

There are certain tasks where automation is a no-brainer. They can be grouped into the following categories: operations management, accounting, marketing and sales, and customer support.

Which areas of business should you automate?

You’ll discover there are hundreds of automation tools available through Shopify’s App Store that help automate – from social media marketing to inventory control, and everything in-between. With so much choice, the only sane way forward is to know what you should be looking for.

Here’s a list of the business areas we recommend automating for the following categories:

Operations management

  • Fulfilment and shipping (including third-party services)
  • Payments
  • Inventory management
  • Returns

Accounting

  • Cloud-based accounting system
  • Accounting integrator

Marketing and sales

  • Search engine optimisation
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Social proof
  • Marketing recommendations

Customer support

  • Order tracking
  • Loyalty and rewards

App recommendations – with reviews from real-life businesses

Now on to our top picks – a bunch of apps and integrations for automating your business that come highly recommended from other Shopify merchants just like you.

Fulfilment and shipping

First, you’ll need to decide which fulfilment method to use to fulfil your Shopify orders. The following recommendations support a variety of fulfilment methods.

Dropshipping: The 11 Best Shopify Apps for Dropshipping Stores

Shopify Shipping: only available to stores located in the US and Canada. You can buy shipping labels from your Shopify admin to speed up the packaging and fulfilment process, save time at the post office, display calculated rates to your customers, and get reduced shipping rates.

Order Printer: Quickly print custom packing slips, invoices, labels, or receipts for all your orders, and print documents in bulk.

Customer review from Luxe 39: Really simple app which performs a simple task very well. Was able to add my logo very easily and improves the look of invoices massively from the standard Shopify template.

Payments

Shopify Payments: only available in certain countries, Shopify Payments is the simplest way to accept payments online. It eliminates the hassle of setting up a third-party payment provider. You’re automatically set up to accept all major payment methods as soon as you create your Shopify store.

Partial.ly Payment Plans: Partial.ly provides businesses with a simple and powerful platform to sell products and services with payment plans on Shopify. Automatically apply custom payment plan terms depending on pre-set checkout criteria. Both fully automated payment plans and manual payment plans are available.

Customer review from Lala Kids Limited: Brilliant to offer customers an easy payment plan. Makes life so much easier for me having automated plans.

Inventory Management

TradeGecko: Automate your supply-chain ecosystem, so you can focus on growth.

  • Keep track of your products as you sell, manufacture and restock across multiple warehouse locations and channels.
  • Sync orders from multiple sales channels with inventory and accounting to boost business efficiency.
  • Keep all your customer and supplier data in one place, complete with purchase histories and customer-specific insights.
  • Generate accurate sales, inventory, business reports and forecasts for better business decisions, all in real-time.

Customer review from Salty Raven: Integration into Shopify has been great – interface allows data to flow in the directions specified and have complete inventory and re-order tools through TradeGecko. Shopify allows us to reach multiple channels and TradeGecko manages my business – it’s a great winning combo!

Returns

_Rich Returns: c_ustomer inquiries concerning returns take up the majority of a customer-support rep’s workday. Let customers self-serve while delivering an exceptional experience.

  • Put your returns on autopilot
  • Dramatically reduce support resources for returns
  • All returns in a single beautiful dashboard

Customer review from Shop Urban Flair: Very easy to configure, even for the novice. Templates, custom options and look of the return portal are terrific to get up and running quickly and efficiently. Plus, the support is outstanding.

Clicksit Return Center: A smooth return process for you and your customers keeps them happy and makes sure they come back to buy more. Prevent returns that fall outside of your returns window and understand the exact stage each return is at, to avoid customer dissatisfaction.

Customer review from Impulse Boutique & Lumiere Collective: This app is perfect for a basic return system that customers can initiate on the website. It only takes a couple of clicks to approve or reject returns and effectively communicate with your customers on the status of their return. The customisable return page and email are fantastic!

Exchange It: With Exchange It, you can easily integrate exchange requests into your regular workflow. When you receive a return from a customer with an exchange request, simply open the customer’s original order within Shopify, click “Exchange with Exchange It” and create a new order! You’ll be given the option to select the product(s) to return (and restock, if desired).

Customer review from MD Complete Skincare: Works perfectly – just click on an existing order, then choose Exchange It from the drop-down and create a new order for that customer at $0, without having to apply any discount. Order can then be fulfilled as you normally would.

Accounting

A2X for Shopify: an automated Shopify accounting tool that generates summarised statements tied to each pay-out summary, ensuring penny-perfect reconciliation each month. A2X automates the manual reconciliation of Shopify payouts and pulling out your fee, refund and adjustment data, into a few seconds each month instead of hours.

A2X brings through and allocates all your store’s data into your accounting system to ensure your business has accurate financial data you can rely on.

It won the Industry Specific App of the Year award at the Xero Americas Awards 2018 and was named as a finalist for the Emerging App of the Year Award in 2019.

With over 200 e-commerce accountant partners across the world, A2X for Shopify is adding significant value by automating accounting for Shopify merchants and e-commerce specialist accountants.

Customer review from RileyPrint: Absolutely a time saver! I tried the official Xero integration and many other importing apps. If you sell volume on Shopify, A2X is the only app that works flawlessly.

Xero: Save time on admin with Xero – it’s online accounting software that automates everyday tasks. Log in to the Xero accounting system for up-to-date financials, anytime, anywhere. View and share interactive reports and budgets, all in one place on a customisable dashboard.

Customer review from Organic Dynamic: When I started doing it myself, I was surprised at how easy it was. I probably spend about five minutes doing my GST returns and a couple of hours a week doing invoicing. Xero shows you how your spending affects everything, and you can adjust business to try and reduce those unexpected expenses a bit.

QuickBooks: QuickBooks Online lets you see how your business is doing instantly. Work from anywhere on multiple devices, send invoices on-the-go and instantly see how your business is performing with customizable reports and dashboards – among many other features.

Customer review from Ash Read: Before QuickBooks, I dreaded the accounting side of my business. Now I can get everything done in minutes and spend time doing what I love.

Marketing and sales

Kit: Kit uses artificial intelligence to recommend the marketing activities most likely to drive sales in your store. It uses your product, visitor and customer data to recommend online strategies for increasing sales.

Customer review from NZ Lashes: We super love Kit and it has helped us boost our sales and helped drive more traffic to our store. Highly recommended!

Plugin SEO: Plugin SEO offers a super-easy way to manage and optimise your SEO according to Google best practice, helping you improve rankings and increase organic traffic.

Customer review from MOQ Boxing: Excellent app; as a complete SEO novice this is a really simple way of seeing what improvements you can make to your store to improve rankings. After making some of the suggestions our web page visits have increased due to higher search engine rankings.

Privy: Privy’s free suite of conversion and email marketing tools, including exit-intent driven popups and banners, helps you grow and sync your email list, reduce cart abandonment and automate your email marketing.

Customer review from SixthMuse: So easy to use, the drag and drop system makes editing quick and easy! Very effective! I am using the free tier and it’s easily handling all my needs.

FOMO Social Proof: displays recent orders and product reviews as your customers browse your store. It’s a great way of showing prospective customers the social proof they’re looking for to buy from you instead of someone else.

Customer review from Penguin CBD: FOMO is by far the best social proof app available on Shopify. We’ve seen a great increase in conversions.

Optinmonster: primarily focuses on growing your email list with pop-ups. It then helps increase conversions by showing customers personalised messages based on their buying behaviour.

Customer review from S&K Greenhouse: This app is incredible! I have used it to make popups and floating bars which has helped me get new leads and increase conversions. It is well designed and simple to use.

Showcase: Turn your Instagram content and user-generated content into shoppable galleries for your online store, and let your customers shop directly from the posts.

Customer review from Gamo Watches: This app is awesome, works very well with my store and is a must-have if you use Instagram to show off products. The support team behind showcase is amazing, they are very responsive and helpful.

StoreYa Facebook: StoreYa provides a stable solution packed with all the features you need to sell successfully on Facebook! With a one-click integration, StoreYa uses your store’s most updated catalogue and imports it into Facebook automatically. There’s no need to manually upload products.

Customer review from Chunky Shoes: The products were imported in a couple of minutes, the Facebook store looks awesome, and I’m already getting traffic. I’m very satisfied with it!

Customer support

Referral Candy: track referrals and reward your referrers, a great way to increase sales with both prospective and return customers.

Customer review from hydraAROMATHERAPY: Very user-friendly interface. Simple to set up and get going while still deep enough to provide customizable options. Lorraine was super helpful and helped me figure out a way to do what I needed. Highly recommend if considering and it fits your needs.

Swell Loyalty & Rewards: Build customised loyalty and referral programs with Incentive Marketing platform, Swell Rewards to engage existing customers and reach new ones.

Customer review from BODYMOTiVE: Swell Rewards, part of Yotpo, has some of the highest ratings on Shopify for a reason. I chose them after researching many of the customer loyalty programs and was impressed with the professional services and features this app provided.

Aftership: Boost sales with a branded tracking page to show the latest order status and marketing banner to impress and upsell customers.

Customer review from Wave Crystal: Really helped our business to grow and build an effective relationship with our customers.

Tracktor: automatically integrates with hundreds of carriers across the globe, so your shoppers can see exactly where their package is 24/7.

Customer review from Divine Lash Co: I’ve been using this app for nearly 4 years now and still hasn’t failed me. I always get a quick response from support and the app is easy to use.

Checkmate manual processes with automation

Everyone’s searching for the secret to Shopify e-commerce success. Without a doubt, one of the many keys that open that door is automation. Shopify is a fantastic ecommerce platform that has fundamentally changed the game for small business. Good automation tools will eliminate the need for manual data entry and administration, and whether you decide to invest in one or all the automation apps, they’ll help you focus on what’s most important – selling more product.


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