When we talk about automation, we usually think it is for big, fancy corporations. But in this day and age where almost every aspect of our lives is touched by technology, even small businesses are using automation tools in their day-to-day affairs.
More than we realize it, we tap into the power of automation every day. When we use software for online fleet management and team management, we use automation to get more things done and save more time.
Being able to integrate automation technologies into your business helps streamline processes, minimize costs, boost productivity, minimize delays, and enhance customer satisfaction.
Having a good automation strategy enables you to use the right tools to maximize the advantages of these technologies and increase the bottom line. This said, there are different types of automation that small businesses might find useful.
Automation Processes Small Businesses Could Use
Marketing and E-Commerce
Automation in this business aspect helps gather and process customer data, which helps you understand your customers and audience better. This further enables your business to deliver the right message to the right market while enhancing customer acquisition and retention.
Business process automation (BPA) enables the execution of recurring tasks with the help of technology, rather than doing it manually. It helps streamline workflow, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.
Some examples of this automation technology are invoicing on-boarding for new employees and travel authorization for employees.
Time-consuming tasks that are repetitive and do not add much value to the business could be done by robotic process automation. Examples of these include transferring files, copying and pasting data, and other mechanical tasks.
Gone are the days when inventory management had to be done manually. It was tedious, time-consuming, and prone to human error. With inventory management automation, you can easily add, change, remove, and transfer product information to your e-commerce website.
With real-time product data and updates, it helps reduce back orders or cancellations, thus improving customers’ shopping experiences.
Advantages of Using Automation in Your Small Business
1. Lower Labor Cost
Most small businesses allocate a huge portion of their budget to hiring employees to do labor-intensive and time-consuming tasks, which do not give much value to the business.
However, by automation, one can minimize the number of workers needed to perform these tasks. As a result, overhead expenses are reduced, and the profitability of the business is increased.
Since more emphasis is given on hiring quality talents rather than quantity of employees, you ensure better growth of the company.
2. Optimize Workforce Allocation
Since automation enables you to free up resources for non-essential, repetitive tasks, you can now give more attention to innovative and strategic plans for the betterment of your business.
Software, such as that for human resources, could help you gather and analyze data to optimize resource allocation. It does so by ensuring that each member of the team is working on the right projects. Not one is overallocated with tasks, while others get a free pass.
3. Adapt to Market Demand
With automation, you have more leverage when it comes to handling changes in market conditions. You no longer have to worry about hiring more people when there is fluctuation in customer demand or an increased volume of orders.
To illustrate, since automation handles a lot of repetitive, menial tasks, you no longer need to hire and train new workers to handle basic duties in inventory management, order processing, and payment handling when there is increased order volume.
Overhead expenses are reduced, you have more control over the costs, and you can ensure customers get what they need without any delays.
4. Reduce Human Error
Automation enables more accuracy when it comes to business operations. Processes, such as invoicing, bookkeeping, inventory management, and order processing, are more accurate. They remove, if not minimize, costly errors due to the manual processing of these tasks.
For instance, shipping software enables you to print correct labels for items to be delivered. In addition, scheduling software helps reduce errors when it comes to employee management, and smart inventory tools remove the necessity of manually counting items.
5. Leverage Remote Workforce
Lastly, automation enables remote work to be possible. During this COVID-19 pandemic, wherein businesses’ only option for continued operation is by allowing employees to work from home, automation helps facilitate seamless internal processes.
It is expected that even after this pandemic dies down, a lot of businesses will completely turn virtual. This is expected to reduce overhead costs, such as rent and office equipment.
More and more small businesses are turning to automation technologies. If your small business is still hesitant to embrace these changes, consider this as a sign that you need to do so now.