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WooCommerce expert reveals top tips for online shop automation

How to save money, time, and headaches operating your WooCommerce shop

WordPress powers over 40 % of the web. Everyone from your local flower shop to international brands use it. But why? Because it is flexible and affordable. You do not need to know how to code to add features to your website. There are plugins that will help you achieve anything you can think of. Are you running a small blog and need a slider for your posts? Great, you will find some free plugins that do that. Do you want to sell products in your own shop? Then, WooCommerce is the answer. Is your online store growing and you need to move faster? Well, you should start automating some tasks. 

If you are reading this article you probably already have a WooCommerce store that is working properly. Then, why should you automate stuff? You do not have time and money to automate, right? Automation will actually save you time and money. 

Do you want to make your business more profitable? Keep reading 🙂  

In this article, we will explore some of the tools that have made the lives of our clients easier. We will go over problems you most likely have experienced and the ways to solve them.

When does it make sense to automate?

Automation always makes sense to grow your business. You will have more time and resources to invest time in other areas once you have freed yourself from repetitive tasks. Copy-pasting new descriptions of your products or updating your prices manually should be a thing of the past. 

We spend many hours updating info to adjust to market changes. How responsive we are here, has a big impact and depends on the capabilities of your team. Human errors can cause you to lose time and money. 

Besides, issues are often hard to detect, even if the website is working properly on your end. Customers can have issues you do not even know about and by the time they complain it is already too late. 

Lead management is often ignored in starting Woocommerce stores. Woocommerce alone is not enough to do proper lead management. This is one key factor in finding customers and ensuring they are engaged in your business. As a general rule, you should always avoid manual data transfer as a business owner, as it usually leads to lots of time and money spent and can include errors and problems. 

Let’s start automating some stuff:

  1. Problem: Too much time spent on updates. If you have an eCommerce website and decide to change suppliers, you would have to make changes in every price and product. This is a perfect job to automate.
    1. Bulk edits to the rescue! Starting with the basics, WooCommerce has many functionalities built in that can solve many of your problems without needing to install additional plugins. As a general rule, always read the documentation first!
    2. One of the main tools you will use in WordPress when dealing with large amounts of data is XML or CSV files. These are spreadsheet documents that can be exported from a database, modified, and then imported with the changes made. Editing blog posts in bulk if you just want to edit a slug or the author for instance is way faster via a CSV file. If you are just getting started with bulk editing you can start experimenting with WP All Import. Use one of the popular tools as they are more stable and are better maintained. Without a proper tool, problems can come around in the transfer to different types of files and many things can go wrong in importing a large base of products or information. 
    3. Edit many products at once using WooCommerce Bulk Editor plugin. Try the battle-tested Excel-Like Product manager, or the YITH Bulk Product Editing tool. You can find examples of stores using these plugins in our WooCommerce section.

Product Syncing

If you are really keen to keep using Google Spreadsheets or Excel online to manage your stock and sales you can sync these files with your WooCommerce site using the GoogleSync plugin

There are more advanced ways to keep information synced from vendors when they provide you with an API, but we will see this in a future blog post. If your shop needs more advanced syncing you can start looking into WooCommerce API product Sync, Automate.io, or Sellberry.

If you have many stores in different areas and they use the same products from one stock, but with different factors like the pricing you will need to find a way to do automated syncing of products or you will start losing money sooner or later.

Some issues are hard to detect 

When you have a WooCommerce store, you can have a well-running website with no problems and a satisfying website environment. However, you only know your side of the store and your environment. It can happen that customers use other browsers and you may not be aware of the problems they face. Some of these problems may cause you to have an unfinished or unoptimized buying process for years. 

Simple issues like these affect your business significantly, you could lose sales or have to reacquire customers you are not keeping properly. 

But what could help to spot issues like this sooner? 

  1. Use customer behavior monitoring. With this, you can see the customers’ interactions and see the errors that occur, understand them and then solve them. For this, you can use tools like SmartLook, Inspectlect, and Hotjar.
  2. Spot errors – use error reporting plugins. You can use, besides others, WordPress Error Monitoring, Error Log Monitor, or Fatal Error Notify. With these tools, you can find errors and get additional information that can prevent issues even before they happen -or you are at least the first to know about an issue before it affects your customers. 
  3. Use uptime monitoring tools such as ManageWP Worker by GoDaddy or JetPack by the creators of WordPress. The bottom line is you need to be the first to find out if your website goes down. Handle backups accordingly using for example All-in-One WP Migration and fix the issue, write down the causes of the issue so you can prepare for next time, and instantly spot issues without losing sales or customers. 

The bigger your shop the more money you will lose per minute if your site goes down or is slow. If the scale of your business allows it you should invest in more tools to guarantee you are always online. You can start with something like Pingdom synthetic monitoring.

What about Lead management?

An unfortunately common issue we have seen is that the checkout process of an eCommerce website is broken. This naturally makes you lose sales. 

Problems like this can be fixed by developers. But if you fix an issue after it occurred, it will have already affected your business. So how can you avoid damage and minimize lost sales? 

There are many different tools you can use which will save you and make you money:

  • Abandoned cart plugins: These are services that capture info on checkout sales before a purchase is completed. They will later help the customer finish the checkout process preventing the loss of sales. For this, you can use different plugins like YITH recover abandoned cart, but also WooCommerce Recover abandoned cart or Abandoned cart lite or Cartstack.
  • When the scale of your operation allows it you should start using CRM systems or similar solutions for lead management. For this, you can make use of tools like Freshdesk, which helps to collect information via chats and reach out to them easily. 
  • If you have a more advanced customer service team for your store, you can use Zendesk, Zapier, or Zoho. This way you will easily notice problems or see if customer information is missing. 
  • To manage your leads in a centralized way you can use Recart or HubSpot which will help you to manage your leads more easily. These platforms track the information of the purchase processes and even teach you how to handle the sales funnel.

Avoid manual data transfer

  • Ideally, your business is running so well that you have a high demand and you cannot keep up with sales. This is a great problem to have!

If you are using Google Sheets, like many store owners do because of its accessibility, there are some issues you will encounter. First, you have the loss of valuable time, but it also can cause more serious problems if a mistake is made in the manual transfer of data. Mistakes happen easily if you have to deal with large amounts of data. 

So how can we prevent mistakes and save time on updates of product info?

  • 1) Limiting stock is a very easy and cheap solution to do this and there are many plugins for this. It can be done from Woocommerce Directly, but also more advanced solutions like Smart Manager for WooCommerce, or Woocommerce Manager Pro
  • 2) Automate Google Sheets! The vast majority of shop owners have a lot of experience using Excel and Google Sheets. If you are one of them and know your way around formulas and macros then it makes sense to offload the work made by your store onto Google Sheets. Connect WooCommerce with your spreadsheets using WooCommerce Google Sheet Connector and then use your skills to process the sales inside Google Sheets, you can also write scripts to automate the processing of orders and save time. 
  • 3) Make use of stock management systems. There are many different tools like ATUM Inventory Management, WooCommerce Stock Manager, and others. 

Let’s talk about advanced automation

WooCommerce has multiple features that allow external integrations (like WC object, REST API; WP-CLI, Cron, or Webhooks). There is also support for multiple libraries and often, custom solutions are the best from a technical standpoint. Depending on the availability of a developer in your team, and if at least the adequate maintenance infrastructure is in place, going custom is usually the best route. It is often the fastest solution to process data. 

In the end, we want to remind you of the basics to keep your eCommerce store running successfully:

  • Keep your WordPress content up to date
  • Make your store secure and protect it 
  • Do not overuse WordPress plugins
  • Do not go cheap on the hosting server 
  • Do scheduled backups
  • Always remember to handle security and data protection according to your local regulations. 

We hope you gained valuable information about the need for automation for your WooCommerce store! Every business is different so there is no perfect formula for which products and services will fit your needs the best. But you can always use a combination of the advice in this article. Feel free to contact us and share this article. Happy selling! 🙂

Eric R
Author: Eric R