The Complete Guide to Automating Your Amazon Business in 4 Simple Steps
~ by Skubana ~
Meta: Wondering how to automate your Amazon business? In this in-depth guide we cover the most important parts of successful automation.
Facebook: Do you want to automate your Amazon business but you’re unsure where to start? Are there any pitfalls? Have you missed anything out? In this complete guide to automating your Amazon biz, we’ll answer all those questions.
So your Amazon business is a success?
Your listings are appearing at the top of the results, your ads are converting well, and your fulfilment process is working like a dream.
You’re ready to start scaling and automating.
But how do you get started? Are there any pitfalls? Will your business be safe in the hands of VAs, agencies, remote workers and automation software?
In this article, we’ll look at how you can automate the different parts of your Amazon business, from sourcing to shipping and everything in between.
By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do (and what not to do) to make sure it’s running like a well-oiled machine.
Overcoming the myth of automation
Before diving into specific steps, it’s worth dispelling a myth that many Amazon sellers have about automation.
Specifically, they think it’s possible to be totally hands-off. This is the dream of “passive income”. Money flows in while you sip a cocktail on your penthouse balcony in Bali.
But it’s important to realize that you’ll still need to run everything at a high level, making sure that all the cogs work together and any unexpected problems are adequately dealt with.
So keep in mind that, while you won’t be concerning yourself with the specifics of optimizing ad copy, you will still have an important set of tasks to complete. The aim is always to minimize your own time-investment as much as possible.
Some tasks, like product research, branding and manufacturer sourcing, are undertaken on a short-term basis. They’re self-enclosed business problems that need to be solved once.
Other tasks need to be carried out continuously. The good news is that the vast majority of recurring tasks can be outsourced, either by hiring your own staff, outsourcing directly, or using an agency.
A number of agencies and freelancers now specialize in managing Amazon listings and inventories and provide a high level of experience.
The following are all examples of tasks that can easily, inexpensively be outsourced:
- Customer service
- Ads management
- Inventory management
- Listing optimization
- Supply-chain management
- Product quality inspection
It’s also worth noting that multi-channel inventory management software (which we’ll look at more closely in a moment), can provide you with a big-picture overview that makes the whole process of automation much simpler and more inexpensive.
One of the big questions facing Amazon sellers who want to automate is whether they should use Amazon’s FBA service for fulfilment or handle shipping in-house.
The obvious choice for smaller sellers is FBA. Amazon will automatically pack and ship products. Customer service is also taken care of. This can immediately add a layer of automation and it’s recommended that small-scale Amazon businesses take this route, especially if they’re handling shipping themselves.
Generally speaking, most sellers shift to their own warehouses or a third-party solution (3PL) once they reach a certain size and FBA costs are no longer justified. In either case, a range of third-party specialist companies are available to take over the fulfilment process.
Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) allows those sellers taking control of the fulfilment process to take advantage of FBA perks like Prime Shipping and opportunities to qualify for the Buy Box.
Amazon sellers are often reluctant to hand over control of important tasks like product sourcing. The margin of error is small, time investment is high and researchers need to have an intuitive sense of the market.
But there is a solution.
Relying on a trusted service is key to scaling your business in regards to these important tasks. Not only will doing so free up your time to focus on high-level strategy, but you’ll also be able to commit to essential aspects of growing your business that require your input, like fostering brand awareness and building your presence in untapped markets.
Effectively managing both recurring and one-off important tasks is the first piece of the puzzle of effective automation. So what’s the other dimension? Well, that question leads nicely onto the next point.
Technology is the single biggest tool Amazon sellers have at their disposal for improving automated processes and reducing costs, sometimes drastically. We’re entering a golden age of marketing and sales automation, artificial intelligence (like chatbots) and integrated, comprehensive SaaS solutions for eCommerce sellers.
Multi-channel listing tools, for example, allow you to streamline and automate a range of processes, including stock-management, fulfillment, customer service, shipping and returns.
The other key benefit of having a single platform to manage your eCommerce operations is that all your data will be unified. This will enable you to draw actionable insights across the whole gamut of your business activities.
This enables you to instantly gauge the overall health of your business and track how well your meeting KPIs (key performance indicators). This is particularly important in the early stages of scaling when it’s easy to lose track of costs.
There are a number of third-party automation solutions. Big platforms like Skubana can handle a wide spectrum of processes, while smaller, focused tools handle smaller tasks. Popular Amazon tools from Seller Republic, for example, are able to monitor competitors and automatically reprice your listings.
McDonald’s is often cited by business people as the gold-standard of franchise models. The basis of this assertion is that companies like McDonald’s work from a clear set of well-defined processes. Pretty much anybody can slot into the machine with a minimum of training and deliver the same high-quality results.
So what does this mean for you? By placing a set of clear, well-tested standard operating procedures at the core of your automated Amazon business, you’ll effectively be able to overcome many of the problems associated with outsourcing.
If you need to hire new VAs and remote workers, you can give them a set of clear instructions to work from in full expectation of the same results. You’ll also be able to run tests and make business-wide changes effectively in the knowledge that they’ll be properly implemented.
Many Amazon sellers, for example, utilize a clear troubleshooting guide for their customer support team. Or provide their listing and ad writers with a comprehensive checklist for ensuring top-notch copy, ensuring that nothing is left to chance.
The prospect of automating for the first time is daunting.
It’s unknown territory, you’re nervous about handing over important jobs to people you’ve never met, and there’s a lot to do.
But just consider what you’re working towards.
Imagine having a clear set of tested process in place, carried out by a team you trust, while you focus on growing your listings, cementing your brand and reaching new customers.
All in the knowledge that you’re achieving definite, consistent results.
The reality is that automation is much simpler and easier than most Amazon sellers imagine. So, time to get started…
Image credit: Pxhere, Mike Seyfang.
Meet the author:
Skubana is an all in one ERP system that unifies operations after the checkout for online merchants. It is an eCommerce management platform that takes the hassle out of running a successful Amazon business or eCommerce site. Trusted by thousands of online retailers, it provides a complete set of tools for automation, analytics and multi-channel management.