Running an ecommerce business is like running an intricate machine; there are numerous parts that have to be kept in working order to keep the business moving forward. Reporting, then, is crucial to help you stay on top of how each component is working. To evaluate the function of each department in your organization, it wouldn’t be feasible to manually monitor and measure every process or transaction, so software makes it possible to get quick, automatic updates about your business.
However, some business owners just take those quick, automatic updates and then use them to manually produce time-consuming metrics and reports. In order to be efficient, ecommerce businesses should bring these automatic updates together using an automated reporting tool.
The need for automated reporting
The data you use to create your metrics and reports are found in different platforms such as ecommerce software, accounting software, Google Analytics, and social media platforms. These separate platforms create information silos that sap your time by requiring you to compile the data into a single place.
Automated reporting tools can decrease (and even eliminate!) the need to jump between platforms to get the metrics you need. For example, Skubana supports ecommerce reporting automation by uniting data from sales and fulfillment providers, allowing you to login to fewer platforms and get a quick snapshot of your business.
As your business and team grow, data is critical to many different parts of your business. That’s why it’s necessary to have tools that allow you to share data reports with your team quickly, easily, and automatically, so that everyone has the information they need to perform their jobs best. (After all, nothing creates more uncertainty for staff than not understanding what is happening inside the business.) Dashboards are an excellent tool for making data accessible and shareable among your team.
Automated dashboards tracking KPIs help you discover insights that would be hard to recognize by manually pouring over invoices or customer transactions. Having the ability to easily discover and act on new insights can save your business significant amounts of money.
In short, automated reporting leads to a more informed staff; a more informed staff makes faster decisions; and faster decisions mean your staff can focus on important strategic activities. As your team has easier access to necessary information, they can spend more time on strategic planning and initiatives that will lead to long-term business growth.
The impact of automated reporting
Unit economics is critical for ecommerce business owners to understand, so you can use your data to answer vital questions. Many small businesses don’t have automated reporting that adequately provides insights into margins and profits made per sale. But data, properly understood and charted, can answer questions and provide insights like:
- When customers purchase products, where do they purchase (your website vs. marketplace)?
- How much does it cost to acquire a customer via paid advertising?
- Are customers finding your business organically?
- What is the return rate of existing customers?
Automated reporting pulls your data regularly, so you can stay up-to-date on all your most important numbers. From a marketing point of view, determining which digital advertising platforms offer the best ROI is critical to optimizing how you spend your marketing dollars. This ensures that spending is concentrated on higher performing channels promoting optimal growth.
A/B testing is easier to analyze with automated reports. For example, the results and insights hiding in the data of a simple pricing test are easier to find with automated reports because you can see the results in real time.
Another area where automated reporting helps ecommerce businesses is in managing inventory. Some marketplaces charge fees for having unsold products in their warehouses, which makes unsold products more costly to the business because you spend money creating the products and then have to spend additional dollars to store them. The longer a product goes unsold, the more it cuts into profit margins. With the support of automated reporting, you can optimize your inventory management process to cut down on unnecessary spending.
Automated reports allow you to spend less time creating reports and more time discovering insights about engagement by channel. On top of that, automated reports with data from the various digital marketing channels (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google, and Instagram) provide visibility into the impact of your investment into certain keywords, blog posts, Instagram posts, etc.
Without automated reporting, your team won’t have access to the data they need to make the right decisions, which means your budget could be going towards unprofitable activities that don’t provide significant returns.
The benefits outweigh the cost
Like any new thing you implement, automated reporting comes with a cost—time, resources, capital. But when you consider everything that automated reporting can help companies do, including:
- Remove information silos
- Avoid unprofitable or costly activities
- Gain insights and a competitive advantage
… it’s easy to see that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Whether you’re dealing with marketing, logistics, website analytics, or sales information, empowering your ecommerce business with automated reporting will provide a positive long-term impact.
This is a guest post written by Chad Rubin. Chad Rubin builds ecommerce businesses. Fresh out of college and Wall Street, he took his family vacuum business online and built his own direct to consumer ecommerce business called Crucial Vacuum. He grew it from 0 a $20 million dollar valuation in just seven years. He happens to be a top 250 Amazon seller. He co-founded Skubana with DJ Kunovac and built one of ecommerce’s hottest operational softwares.