During the rapid development of automation concepts and applications in the 20th century, business as the world knew it was revolutionized. Factories were introduced to the concept of automation. Instead of hiring hundreds (or even thousands) of employees, businesses could now replace a dozen employees with a machine that can do the work relentlessly around the clock. And with relatively low maintenance cost, companies were able to pay only fraction of what they paid before in wages, insurance, sick leaves and all the other workforce-related costs that comes along with hiring humans for production lines.
This accelerated the growth of the world's economy massively. Not only that, but it also made a huge space for employees to focus on exploring, inventing and innovating instead of using most of the workforce as human robots in production lines. This shift isn't exclusive to this particular time. In every era, and nearly in all domains and industries, it comes a time where technology handles most of the repetitive boring work.
Automating the online world
Fortunately, a few years ago, the online world became obsessed with website automation. From social media and blog post scheduling all the way to chatbots that will automatically answer the customer's frequently asked questions. And with all the work in the field of automation and artificial intelligence, it was natural for automation to enter the world of eCommerce. Especially with the repetitive nature of eCommerce ordering and fulfillment processes.
Today hundreds of companies provide services to help eCommerce experts and business owners automate nearly all aspects of order management, payments and even customer service. This enabled eCommerce merchants to cut back on costs, work-hours and even the number of needed employees. Thus giving them more space to focus on improving and expanding their businesses.
This is where Shopify Flow came to the rescue. If you don't know it yet, you will in a minute.
What is Shopify Flow?
According to Shopify's blog
"Shopify Flow is an ecommerce automation platform that you can use to automate common tasks in your store".
It's mainly about connecting different apps and processes together across your online store, so that one event automatically triggers the other. Even if the events happen in two different apps or between an App and a feature in Shopify platform. To get a deeper sense of what can Shopify Flow do for your business, let's take a real-life example.
Interline's Shopify Flow Case Study
Interline was one of the companies that made the best out of Shopify Flow and saved hundreds and hundreds of work hours a year in the process. From automating refunds, inventory tracking to managing online commissions for in-store sales assocaites. Here are some of the workflows they created and how it helped.
1. Automatically tracking refund and cancellation details:
To get an insight about why people cancel orders or initiate refunds, the team at Interline used to go through daily orders one by one, and manually add the details of cancellations and refunds into a spreadsheet for the team to review later.
They created a simple workflow on Shopify Flow that identifies a cancellation or a return the minute it occurs and sends its details to a specified Slack channel for the team to review it later. Not only that, but it also it automatically initiates the refund process for the customer.
Julio Giannotti, a web manager at Interline says
“We have all the answers right there in front of us and no longer need to run reports, which frees us up to do other important tasks.”
2. Automatically identifying out of stock items
Instead of manually searching for "out of stock" items, they created a workflow that send the details of any item that goes out of stock to a dedicated Slack channel the moment the product count reaches zero. So all the company needs to know which items are out of stock is to open the Slack channel, without needing reports or manual labor. Giannotti said that it helped them in merchandising on the website as well. So they don't lead with products that go out of stock.
3. Unpublishing the discontinued stock automatically
When a certain product is discontinued for any reason, a workflow is initiated. This workflow tracks the product inventory. When it reaches zero, the workflow automatically unpublishes the product from the website automatically. All Interline has to do is to mark the product as discontinued and the rest is automated.
4. Integrating online and offline sales commissions for sales associates
For the in-store sales associates, going online meant reduction in their commission. To solve this problem and to encourage more online sales. Interline used Flow and Refersion (a leader in affiliate tracking software) to make the affiliate tracking for the sales associates both online and offline. So when they refer customers for an online purchase (if the item isn't in the store itself, or when the customer wants to order for someone else for example) they get a commission too.
The possibilities that Shopify Flow gave to eCommerce merchants are virtually limitless. You can tailor workflows based on the needs of your business to save yourself and your team a lot of time, effort and hassle.
A side note: Shopify Flow is only available to the Shopify Plus merchants.