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What to Automate: An E-commerce Guide

E-commerce sales are projected to increase to $7.4 billion by 2025. Effectively automating your business processes allows you to capitalize on projected growth by ensuring you’re producing high-quality content and reaching your customers in the most effective way possible.

With the help of automation, you can create consistent digital content, develop and share engaging marketing materials, and strengthen customer service — all of which improve the user experience and shape the success of your e-commerce platform.

In this article, we’ll explore which processes your e-commerce business should automate, when to automate them, and when the manual approach still makes sense.

Common uses for automation in e-commerce businesses include the following:

  • Optimizing critical workflows.
  • Redirecting human effort to more impactful tasks.
  • Keeping up with fast turnaround times.
  • Customizing content and pages for different formats, audiences, and devices.
  • Updating product descriptions.
  • Maintaining consistent branding across your platform.

While you may be inclined to automate as many development steps as possible, indiscriminate automation isn’t the best strategy. It’s about automating the right things to eliminate developer toil, boost productivity, and help your business keep its competitive edge.

When selecting your automation opportunities, you should focus your efforts on the most high-impact areas. Here are three key areas that all e-commerce companies should automate.

Digital assets are pivotal to the success of most e-commerce endeavors because they’re the closest representations of your products that your customers can access. Assets may include product videos, images, 3D renders, and even immersive experiences that allow interaction with products in virtual environments.

Without automation, managing assets for even a few products can be a headache. For large e-commerce sites, using automation significantly improves asset management by increasing the speed with which you can search, alter, and repurpose assets.

Digital asset management (DAM) enhances digital content storage, discovery, shareability, and retrieval. DAM platforms provide centralized asset storage, enabling the organization of content into dynamic structures such as folders and collections while adding a permissions and access control layer to ensure secure file sharing.

Cloudinary steps up the asset management process with a DAM platform that is automated, secure, and seamless to integrate with e-commerce platforms and content management systems. AI Content Analysis can automatically detect, tag, and manipulate images containing thousands of object types, maintaining your image’s focal point as it generates image variations like full-size ads, banners, or profile pictures. AI-driven algorithms can also locate and remove duplicate assets to keep your resources clutter-free. 

Managing and distributing digital content can be daunting when it must be accessible from various digital platforms and diverse consumer devices. Cloudinary offers a robust media distribution engine that optimizes the marketing process to maximize customer engagement and lead conversion.

Multi-site marketing is especially promising for e-commerce, but only if you can efficiently deliver content to your varied customer base. Cloudinary helps you streamline asset versioning through its programmable media capabilities. It supports the automatic personalization of image and video content through effects, overlays, shapes, color, and many more customizations. 

The Video API offers superior features, including auto-transcoding, thumbnails, AI-based cropping, subtitles, and playlists. And to enhance fast page loads, especially in distributed sites, the API uses multi-CDN delivery and optimization of multi-format content.

Media quality and relevance are core to the success of marketing campaigns. Cloudinary uses content-aware artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms to determine the most optimal format for user devices based on the media type. 

When marketing new products to customers, you can tap directly into Cloudinary DAM to fetch media assets that suit the new campaigns. In two simple clicks, you can automatically publish the content to global e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, thanks to available platform integrations.

Creating premium content — including video, images, and text — is often expensive and time-consuming. When the same content requires conversion or modification to suit different media devices, it risks: 

  • Quality degradation
  • Reduced segmentation
  • Diminished relevance 

Indivio is Cloudinary’s solution to the challenges of content creation. The platform provides innovative content templates businesses can use to customize their content and accelerate the development process through automation. Indivio automates product catalog traversal to create unique images and videos for individual products. It steps up the automation game by automatically publishing the generated content for various media channels while adding dynamic tags, ad descriptions, and calls to action (CTAs). 

Automation has demonstrated immense value, but it’s not a magic bullet for e-commerce businesses. There are business processes that you shouldn’t automate. Let’s discuss a few.

Customer-centric content is pivotal to the success of high-conversion e-commerce sites. Designed to be well-curated and customer-focused, creating effective customer-centric content needs manual human input. Trying to automate the curation and presentation of customer-centered content puts you at risk of creating less-personalized copy, which can impact conversion.

Another area to avoid automating is business decisions. While the data obtained from analysis of e-commerce automation is invaluable in informing business decisions, the final decision-making process should be left to the business executives.

Simply put: E-commerce automation and executive decision-making should be complementary, not mutually exclusive. This often takes the form of human decisions backed by insightful business intelligence.

Personnel decisions, like business decisions, should also be excluded from e-commerce automation. Intrapersonal processes require human-centered practices. Avoiding automation makes room for nuance and accounts for the personal element that defines personnel processes and management.

When adopting automation, most companies will look for scalable solutions that are deployable to a global audience of potential customers instantly. Cloud-based automation platforms such as Cloudinary enable businesses to implement fast automation and reduce time to market. 

Even with sufficient technical capacity, manual scaling of digital campaigns is not sustainable if you account for:

  • Dynamic content creation.
  • Multi-site campaigns.
  • Customized content with ad-specific properties.
  • Multiple digital asset formats and integrations with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Salesforce.

Cloudinary understands the pain points of businesses looking to penetrate the scaling barrier by automating their manual e-commerce processes. A barrier to entry for most companies is identifying the optimal time to start automation. Cloudinary can analyze business needs, including growth and campaign strategies, to recommend the best automation adoption approach.

For modern e-commerce platforms, remaining competitive and profitable makes automation a necessity — and knowing what and when to automate is key. 

Cloudinary offers a suite of innovative automation solutions that provide clear entry points for businesses to automate their e-commerce workflows. With a robust cloud-based and intelligent DAM engine, Cloudinary provides dynamic digital asset management containers with robust search and repurposing features. 

The platform also automates e-commerce marketing through its AI-driven media distribution engine. It can deliver targeted campaigns across multiple sites while optimizing for multiple geographical locations, languages, and region-specific attributes. And for content generation, Cloudinary shines in its ability to accelerate and scale development through a combination of AI and media templates.

Check out Cloudinary’s e-commerce automation tools to transform your business for the next generation of e-commerce.

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