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Running a business

Workplace automation: How automation can help your small business

Automation is a big term, and it’s thrown around in the business world quite a bit. What is automation exactly, and what does it mean for your small business? Automation software helps you streamline your operations, saving you time, money and effort. The main benefit of automation is that it frees up resources that you can then dedicate to growth activities, helping you take your small business to the next level.

We’ll explain how automation helps your business and what tools you can use to bring workplace automation to your company. For a comprehensive overview of the benefits of workflow automation, keep reading, or use the links below to jump to a specific point of interest.

What is workplace automation?

Automation is the streamlining of business processes using advanced technology. Automation for small businesses is all about simplifying repetitive tasks by setting up a system that makes it possible to complete these tasks without manual effort. This is done by leveraging technology, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning.

Workplace automation tools are designed with rule-based systems that can pull and organise data, interpret that data and complete tasks based on that information. These advanced solutions can then complete repetitive or data-driven tasks for you, making your business operations more efficient and easier to manage.

Automation technology can be used to streamline virtually every work task, from human resources to social media strategy, invoicing clients to onboarding new employees. According to a study by Asana , employees waste 60% of their time completing repetitive tasks like follow-ups and hunting down information.

Woman smiling down at laptop.

What are the benefits of automation for your small business?

Automation technology can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings. In fact there are many benefits of automation within your organisation. Here are some specific examples of how automation can help your small business:

1. Save time and money

On average, managers spend about 40 to 50 hours per month managing inventory, according to Gather . That’s a lot of time and money spent on tasks that can be mostly automated. If you pay yourself $100 per hour, that’s over $60,000 lost every year doing manual tasks that aren’t the best use of your time. Surely, your time can be put to much better use—like focusing on growth strategies and customer acquisition.

Furthermore, retail e-commerce grew 27.6% in 2020 , meaning competition has ramped up and you need to put all your efforts into remaining ahead of the curve. However, that means you need to invest more time in aspects of your business that will directly influence growth and build customer loyalty.

Small business owners understand this, but they can’t hire more employees to handle all the important work. They must make do with the available resources at hand. That’s where automation can be impactful.

Automation can reduce hours and money spent on time-consuming tasks with streamlined operations that allow you to allocate resources more efficiently. With automation, you and your employees can channel your efforts on tasks that are critical to moving your business forward and increasing efficiency.

We provide you with the tools and insights you need in a single dashboard, helping you work smarter to grow your business. QuickBooks is a workflow automation tool that can help you shift the focus of your team to more high-value tasks and become more agile with your strategy as a merchant.

Grow Your Business with QuickBooks

2. Increase accuracy

Inventory and order fulfilment mistakes can be costly and, unfortunately, human error is an inevitable part of manual inventory management. However, with QuickBooks Commerce, you benefit from inventory control features, which leads to enhanced accuracy. QuickBooks Commerce can:

  • Update inventory across multiple warehouses and e-commerce platforms in real time
  • Notify you when stock is running low on a product
  • Set up parameters for reordering
  • Help you track incoming stock.

With this type of functionality, you can improve your inventory accuracy and ensure that you have what you need on hand, skipping the cumbersome and error-ridden manual processes. This makes it easier and more efficient to manage business processes and ensures your customers are able to easily obtain the products they need.

3. Speed up order fulfilment

Streamlining order fulfilment processes cuts down on the busy work of customer support and alleviates the stress that comes with trying to make sure every order is packed and shipped quickly. Reducing the time between ordering and fulfilment also has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, which feeds into overall company profitability.

With QuickBooks Commerce, you benefit from:

  • Automated workflows that run tasks like adding discounts, packing orders and creating shipments
  • Optimised order sourcing, since the software will collect orders across various e-commerce channels
  • Automated order routing to specific stock locations
  • Instant updates on order status both internally and externally.

By reducing your manual workload and setting up rules, you can significantly streamline the order fulfilment process.

4. Improve customer satisfaction

As customers increasingly expect a higher level of service at every touchpoint, businesses face pressure to provide faster and more personalised responses and order fulfilment to maintain a competitive edge. This means they need to be able to offer fast shipping and 24/7 customer service as standard.

Focusing on experience and satisfaction is critical to building customer loyalty and attracting new customers. However, accomplishing this isn’t always easy, especially when your resources are strained.

Flexing your commerce muscles and scale in today’s super competitive market wouldn’t be possible without unlocking automation, but chances are you’ve already unlocked automation without realising it. If you’re using different types of software that are already talking to each other (such as your e-commerce store with your inventory system or accounting with shipping), you’re using automation. Rather than utilising multiple software systems, you could combine all of these features into a single platform with QuickBooks Commerce and excel at automating all of these functions.

For example, automation can also augment your customer relationship management (CRM) efforts. The right CRM allows you to:

  • Link and consolidate communication channels from various platforms
  • Enable easy access to communication logs by different teams
  • Maximise sales opportunities through automated communication with customers
  • Automatically group and organise customers based on different factors.

CRM efficiency is crucial to successful supply chain management because your customers are at the core of your business, and thus at the core of your supply chain. Using automation tools helps you provide better service and a positive customer experience.

5. Streamline communication—both internally and with customers

An automated online ordering system produces more than just an electronic invoice—it is a point of communication that businesses can use to provide updates to customers during the entire order management and fulfilment process.

With QuickBooks Commerce, you can set up automated order confirmations and shipping notifications on your QuickBooks B2B e-commerce platform so customers are updated in real time. This provides assurance that their order is on track.

This automated system is equipped with features that allow both on-site and remote teams to collaborate easily in real time. They also have access to the same information (based on given permissions) so everyone can work cohesively. This reduces room for error and miscommunication significantly.

With better internal communication, you can increase productivity by making sure everyone is on the same page and problems are resolved quickly. This means your business can run much more smoothly. With better external communication, you can improve customer satisfaction , which in turn can drive sales and customer acquisition over time.

Workplace automation tools for your business

So, now that you’ve seen how business process automation can transform an organisation’s efficiency, it’s time to find ways to harness its power for your small business.

With QuickBooks Commerce, you can work more efficiently by building customised workflows that allow you to automate frequently performed tasks. With this powerful solution for workflow automation, you can simplify and automate much of your supply chain management and increase operational efficiency overall.

QuickBooks Commerce also allows B2B wholesalers to automate:

  • Order fulfilment
  • Inventory restocking
  • Order routing
  • Shipping confirmations
  • Internal communications.

With these features, you can take advantage of automation for your small business .

Automate business processes and reap the rewards

Understanding the importance and benefits of automation in business cannot be overstated. Automation technology is helping businesses in all industries improve efficiency, from health care to manufacturing.

QuickBooks Commerce with advanced automation can help your multi-channel business manage sales orders and overflow, improve communication with employees and customers, and reduce manual work. With business automation, you can focus on what you do best: growing your business. Learn more about bundling QuickBooks with QuickBooks Online today to work smarter and take control of your business from one platform.

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