by Rebecca Noori
Amazon sellers are enjoying a boom, making up more than 54% of the retail giant's net sales throughout 2020, with 3,700 new sellers added daily throughout 2021. The Internet is awash with tales of Gen Zers making seven figures from their brand-new Amazon businesses, and there's plenty of room for others to join the party.
But becoming a successful Amazon seller doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it an accident. Headline-worthy eCommerce entrepreneurs use sophisticated systems to streamline their operations, adding a chunk to their bottom line without sacrificing additional time. How? The answer is Amazon automation.
This guide will explore exactly what Amazon automation is and why it's integral to your eCommerce business. But most importantly, we'll provide strategies to pinpoint precisely which parts of your online business you want to automate. Sneak peek: there's a lot of choice!
What is Amazon Automation?
Automation is popular across multiple industries. McKinsey research reveals that 66% of business leaders are piloting solutions to automate at least one business process. With Amazon automation, the focus is on identifying the mundane, repetitive tasks in your business and acknowledging that you don't need to be there to oversee every single one of them.
Being the sole person in charge of everything in your Amazon business is not a good use of your time. Updating your listings, adding new products, responding to customer emails, packing, shipping, optimizing your PPC ads – the list of grunt work goes on. So, automation ensures these processes continue to run in the background while your business progresses. Because let's face it — there are probably other people better qualified to handle some of this work.
And if you need to take a couple of days off? Yup, your automated online business will keep making those sales and turning profits. If this sounds promising, you’re probably wondering how to set up the building blocks of automation. There are several different ways to approach it.
1. Leaning on Technology
Technology is at the heart of automating time-consuming work. As a prime example, Profasee's dynamic pricing platform uses artificial intelligence to predict the perfect price for every Amazon listing in your Amazon Seller account.
Whether you're interested in price matching or developing a new price differentiation strategy, this is an important tool in your automation arsenal. By tracking real-time data and accessing the latest consumer trends, this automation solution ensures Amazon sellers win the battle in the search results page long before getting to the point of sale.
Of course, pricing power is only part of your Amazon business (although it’s a pretty important part nonetheless), but there are plenty of other areas to automate too.
You might have heard of Trello, which uses a Kanban-style project management board to provide a visual overview of your business tasks, including whose responsibility they are. Trello uses an inbuilt automation integration known as Butler to save hours on tedious tasks that sap your productivity.
Here's an example of an automated workflow you might use: every time you receive a new order in Amazon Seller Central, this will automatically create a new card in Trello for you to assign as a task to a team member.
But looking beyond project management, you can also use automation to set up chatbots to handle repetitive customer service queries or automate review requests to keep the positive feedback pumping.
2. Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon)
68% of Amazon sellers automate essential business processes using Amazon's built-in fulfillment services, known as Amazon FBA. This works by sellers sending products to an Amazon fulfillment center, with Amazon employees handling everything from picking, packing, shipping, returns, and even customer services. Although hefty costs are involved, many Amazon owners reinvest the time and resources they've saved to spend in other areas of the business, such as product sourcing and marketing.
3. Building Teams
Successful entrepreneurs recognize they can't (and shouldn't) do everything themselves. That doesn't mean you need to hire a ton of employees to scale your business either – in fact, staying small in terms of personnel can help maximize your profits.
But you can build a talented support team by outsourcing to specialist freelancers as a cost-effective approach. For example, virtual assistants and bookkeepers can help with your nitty-gritty admin tasks, while PPC marketers can get those clicks through to your Amazon listings.
4. Full-Service Amazon Agency
Suppose you have money to invest, and you're looking for an entirely automated approach. In that case, private label brand building agencies will do everything from building your Amazon store, sourcing the products, and handling every single aspect of running your business.
Usually, you'll pay a significant upfront cost and be charged as part of a recurring profit-sharing structure. This removes stress from running your Amazon business and allows you to scale quickly. The only thing to weigh up is parting with a chunk of your profits for the convenience of automating so much of your operations. There's no right or wrong here; when it comes to Amazon automation, every decision comes down to making the best choice for your business.
Why Is Amazon Automation Important for Amazon Sellers?
Not yet convinced about the power of automation and still struggling with the idea of handing over control of your business? Let's look at some of the specific ways automation supports Amazon sellers.
Makes Running an Amazon Business Easier
It’s pretty simple — automation takes care of the tedious tasks, so you’re not the jack of all trades and master of none. No more spinning plates and dropping the ball as you worry about covering a zillion different tasks without giving your attention to the stuff that matters! Even better, if you use AI automation software, you’ll gain valuable insights about your business and niche that would otherwise be painstaking to access.
Helps You Reduce Errors
Account suspensions are a massive problem for Amazon sellers. These happen when online business owners violate (accidentally or otherwise) Amazon's terms of service. But it can be an absolute nightmare to get sellers' accounts reinstated.
If Amazon switches off your selling privileges, they'll immediately remove your listings, and you'll lose access to your inventory. Not to mention, your business will come to a screeching halt. Avoid this heart-stopping scenario by automating tasks, so you'll keep on top of your account management with less scope for human error.
Gives You More Time to Focus on More Pressing Matters
Roughly 40% of Amazon business owners work less than 10 hours a week on their business, which frees up more time to devote to other work or, better yet, spend with family and friends outside of work. Automation is the driver of this work-life balance. It allows you to take a step back from the day-to-day running of your business and focus on the bigger picture.
Allows You to Scale Your Business
One of the great things about automation is it's not all or nothing. You can start small by automating just a few tasks and then gradually scale up as you put more trust in the systems you’ve set up. Automation can help you take your business to the next level by winning back time and headspace to focus on those strategic tasks.
But perhaps your end goal isn't to endlessly grow your Amazon business but to sell it on?
Some Amazon sellers start their companies with the goal of working hard and cashing in. Although we'd never describe selling with Amazon as a get-rich-quick scheme, there are companies such as Thrasio and GOJA that roll up smaller Amazon businesses into their own. And many involved in selling their Amazon store this way have made a tidy profit.
If this is of interest, an automated, profit-churning machine makes you look appealing to anyone interested in buying smaller Amazon businesses. Take it from Lori Barvzi, former owner and CEO of Love, Lori LLC, who made $1.35 million in sales during her final year at the helm. She sold her Amazon business to GOJA in December 2020 for $2.35 million after just a month of negotiations.
How to Discover What to Automate in your Amazon Business
Let’s get specific about pinpointing the areas of your business that are ripe for automation. But first ….
In this Prosper Show presentation, Chad Rubin explains you can't outsource an inefficient task, so the first step in automating your business is to get organized. That might mean spending time sorting out your files, streamlining your inventory management, or getting your customer relationship management (CRM) system in order. This will make it much easier to hand over your processes to somebody else.
Defining Your Amazon Business Goals
Next, understand what you want to achieve with automation in your business. Is it more sales? More profit? Less time spent on tasks? Ask thought-provoking questions like these to nail down your goals.
- Is my Amazon business a side hustle or my primary source of income?
- What do I want my Amazon business to look like five years from now?
- Am I building my online business with a clear exit strategy in mind?
- How much time can I dedicate to my business?
Once you've defined your goals, you can identify which processes will help you achieve them.
Identifying Time-Consuming Tasks
Make a list of all the tasks you do in your business, both big and small. We recommend you take two weeks to plot this in your Google Calendar or use time tracking software like Toggl. Either way, be comprehensive and include everything you do, from restocking the office fridge to jumping on late-night calls with suppliers.
Once you have a full breakdown of where you're spending your hours, determine whether these activities are high or low effort and whether they produce a high or low impact for your business. Hint: you'll want to prioritize any work that falls within the high impact + high effort quadrant and automate the low impact and low effort jobs that are real time-suckers.
Acknowledge You Won’t Want to Automate Everything
Your Amazon business is unique to you, and while there may be some strategies and rules of thumb to follow, not every automation process will be the right fit for you. This includes some that Amazon will try and push on you. Elliott Hawkins, Founder of Nomaza & Brutal Gift Co, provides an example.
"Amazon has a setting called "shipping setting automation" which supposedly automatically calculates which carriers meet the delivery promise a customer chooses, e.g., Premium one day (next day)."
The seller explains that Amazon doesn't recognize their preferred premium one-day delivery service. It either defaults to a more expensive courier service. Or, if they try to override it and use their preferred courier, "Amazon automatically extends the delivery promise for the customer out to 2 working days when they view our listing if Amazon thinks [courier] can't deliver to it... and of course, the customer, therefore, is likely deterred."
Clearly, this automation setting isn’t serving this Amazon business well. And there will be aspects of automation that don’t serve you — it’s all about choosing the most appropriate fit for your business.
Understand Your Budget
Automation is a spectrum with associated budget requirements at each end. If you’re interested in a full-service agency model for your Amazon business, understand this is often a sizeable investment. But there are other cost-effective types of automation like Profasee’s pricing tool or Amazon’s FBA program that may be a better fit.
When to Delegate vs. Automate in Your Ecommerce Business
There’s an argument for using both delegation and automation in your eCommerce business. The trick is knowing when to rely on each.
Automation should be used for tasks that need to happen consistently and repeatedly. Technology can assist if you don't need a human to oversee these tasks. Software is also essential when you need granular insights into your business data that highlight patterns for further analysis. Look to automation for tasks like:
- Pricing and determining product value
- Inventory management
- PPC optimization
- Creating and sending customer emails
Delegation, on the other hand, is best used for tasks that require some element of human involvement. This could be where you need someone with highly-developed people skills and the ability to troubleshoot on the fly. Use delegation for tasks like:
- Customer service (including returns)
- Packaging items for shipping
- Quality control
Remember: you can always start with automation and move to delegation as your business grows. The key is not to try and do everything yourself. By using delegation and automation, you can focus on revenue-generating tasks in your business, safe in the knowledge that the rest is taken care of.
How to Build an Amazon Automation Quickly and Easily
If you’re looking for a fast way to get started with Amazon automation, there are a few key tools you can use to get up and running quickly. Here’s a brief overview of each:
1. Amazon FBA
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that will take a lot of the burden off your shoulders and is a great way to get started with Amazon automation. Assuming you already have an Amazon business up and running, it's an easy move to implement FBA. Simply sign into Seller Central and register your details. From there, you'll specify your FBA inventory, then send your stock to a fulfillment center according to their shipping guidelines, and leave the rest to Amazon.
Manychat is a popular marketing chatbot service that keeps your customers happy. Connect this SaaS tool to your Amazon Seller account using an integration service like Zapier, and the two platforms will happily talk to each seamlessly.
For example, you can set up an automation that sends a confirmation text message using Manychat to a customer whenever a new order is received on Amazon. Check out the dozens of other triggers and actions you can implement between these tools. They’re all point-and-click integrations meaning you’ll set them up in a matter of minutes.
Pricing is one of the most powerful automation features you can choose. Because, let's face it, machines are faster and more efficient than humans at pulling in thousands of Amazon data points and determining the best pricing strategy for your listings.
Getting started is as simple as requesting access to our dynamic pricing tool, then integrating instantly with your Amazon storefront. Sit back and let the tool automatically calculate your optimal prices.
By now, you'll have a great understanding of what Amazon automation is, how it can benefit your business, and some of the tools you need to get started. The bottom line: automation can save you time and money, but it's important to use it wisely.
Finding the right balance between automation and human involvement for your business is the trick. And this usually involves some element of trial, error, and course correction until you hit the sweet spot. Use automation for the tasks that make sense, and delegate the rest to your team.
Final tip: to automate pricing so you have access to the most current data to optimize your Amazon listings, check out Profasee. Request access to our platform to get perfect price predictions every time.