Digital Marketing

What is a fully automated Shopify store?

A fully automated Shopify store utilizes apps and integrations to handle the key ecommerce operations with minimal manual effort. The goal is to create a mostly “hands-off” business that can run smoothly in the background.

The main benefits of full automation include:

  • Requires less daily management once set up
  • More time to focus on high-level strategy and growth
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Lower overhead costs
  • Ability to scale more easily
  • 24/7 operations without staffing needs

However, there are some potential drawbacks as well:

  • High upfront cost of automations and apps
  • Learning curve to implement and manage systems
  • Potential for errors if not set up properly
  • Less human touch and personalization
  • Security and transparency risks if not monitored

Overall, full automation makes the most sense for established ecommerce stores with the technical capabilities and resources to implement it smoothly. It may not be the right approach for brand new or small stores. The key is finding the right balance of automation that optimizes operations without compromising quality, security or customer experience.

How Does Automation Work for Ecommerce?

Ecommerce automation refers to using software and apps to automate repetitive, manual tasks involved in running an online store. This allows store owners to streamline operations and focus their efforts on high-level strategic decisions.

There are many tedious tasks involved in managing inventory, fulfilling orders, marketing products, and providing customer service that can potentially be automated. Some examples include:

  • Automatically updating inventory levels when an order is placed.
  • Sending customized order confirmation emails.
  • Scheduling social media posts to promote products.
  • Using chatbots to answer common customer service questions.
  • Generating reports on sales, traffic, and other metrics.
  • Syncing product data between online store, accounting, and shipping software.

Ecommerce automation tools connect to the store’s software API to pull data and trigger actions based on pre-set rules and workflows. This eliminates the need for the store owner to manually export data from one system and import it into another. The automation apps do the work behind the scenes, saving significant time and effort.

Store owners can choose the specific tasks they want to automate based on their business’s unique needs and growth goals. With the right set up, a Shopify store can run almost entirely on autopilot, allowing the owner to focus on high-level decisions and optimization.

Key Areas of Automation

A fully automated Shopify store takes advantage of automation across key areas like order processing, inventory management, marketing, and customer service. By automating these critical ecommerce functions, online retailers can streamline operations, reduce costs, and scale more efficiently.

Order Processing

Automating order processing involves automatically fulfilling and tracking orders. This includes sending order confirmations, processing payments, calculating taxes, and shipping orders. Order processing automation apps for Shopify like Shopify Flow, Zapier, and Workato can connect to fulfillment centers to automatically dispatch shipments when an order comes in. They provide tracking info to customers and sync order data with accounting software. This eliminates all the manual work of processing each order individually.

Inventory Management

Keeping inventory updated in real-time is vital for ecommerce. Inventory management automation ensures stock levels stay accurate across channels. Apps like Cin7, TradeGecko, and Brightpearl can automatically sync inventory counts between Shopify, warehouses, and other channels. They can track and report on popular products, send alerts for low stock, and automatically reorder top-selling items. This automates inventory forecasting and replenishment.


Marketing automation includes automated email campaigns, social media posting, SEO optimization, and more. Apps like Klaviyo, Omnisend, and Privy can automatically send triggered emails like abandoned cart reminders. Automated ad platforms like Google and Facebook Ads make it easy to target and remarket to customers. SEO apps optimize on-page elements and generate blog content. Marketing automation provides hands-off promotion of products.

Customer Service

From automated order updates to AI-powered chatbots, customer service automation ensures swift, personalized support. Apps like Shopify Ping, Tidio, and PrestoChat provide 24/7 automated assistance via chat. They can answer common questions and route complex inquiries to human agents. Automated workflows can also send order confirmations, shipping updates, and followup surveys. This frees up staff for value-added service.

Automating Order Processing

Automating order processing involves streamlining the steps between a customer placing an order and the order being fulfilled and shipped. This removes manual work for the store owner and provides a seamless experience for the customer.

Some key aspects of automating order processing include:

  • Automatically sending order confirmation emails and shipping notifications when an order is placed. This keeps customers informed on their order status. Shopify has built-in order confirmation emails, and apps like ShipStation can enhance notifications.

  • Integrating with fulfillment services to handle actually packaging and shipping orders. Services like ShipBob and Deliverr can receive orders from Shopify and manage the fulfillment process.

  • Tracking order status and shipping. Apps like AfterShip allow you to connect shipping carriers to automatically track and update order status.

  • Managing returns and exchanges. Return automation apps like Returnly and Optily can handle the returns process from generating shipping labels to refunding orders.

  • Accounting automation to handle tasks like sales tax calculations. Apps like TaxJar can calculate local sales tax rates.

The main benefit of automating order operations is it frees up the store owner’s time to focus on high-level business strategy rather than manual daily work. It also provides customers with a seamless post-purchase experience.

Automating Inventory

Inventory management is a crucial but time-consuming task for ecommerce stores. Automation tools can help streamline inventory tracking and ensure you never run out of stock.

Automation apps integrate with Shopify to provide real-time inventory monitoring. As items are purchased, the inventory levels are automatically updated. You can set rules for minimum stock levels so that the system knows when to reorder products.

Some automation features for inventory management include:

  • Automatic stock level tracking as orders come in. This prevents overselling of out-of-stock items.

  • Rules for minimum quantities to trigger reorders. For example, reordering when stock falls below 10 units.

  • Integration with suppliers to automatically place purchase orders when inventory is low.

  • Monitoring of supplier lead times to account for restocking delays.

  • Allocation rules to reserve stock for upcoming orders. This prevents items selling out before scheduled orders ship.

  • Multi-location inventory management for stores with warehouses in multiple places.

Automated inventory systems provide complete visibility into stock levels across all sales channels. This helps avoid lost sales from out of stocks while minimizing excess inventory. The automation frees up retailers to focus on other parts of the business.

Automating Marketing

Marketing automation enables Shopify store owners to streamline and scale their marketing efforts. Rather than manually sending emails, posting on social media, and running ads, automation apps and tools can handle these tasks automatically.

Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing automation involves using apps like Klaviyo or Omnisend to set up automated email workflows. These workflows can send emails like abandoned cart reminders, browse abandonment emails, welcome series, and more based on customer behaviors. This removes the need to manually send one-off campaign emails. Automation ensures customers receive timely, relevant emails based on their actions.

Social Media Automation

Social media automation tools like Buffer or Hootsuite allow Shopify stores to schedule social media posts and engagements ahead of time. This includes scheduling posts, following users, liking posts, and commenting. By automating social media activities, stores can maintain an active social presence without constantly manual effort.

Advertising Automation

Shopify stores can use automation to optimize and scale their paid advertising efforts. Apps like Adroll automate ad targeting, budgeting, creative testing, and placement across channels like Facebook and Google. Automated bidding tools like Persado can optimize ad copy and messaging to drive higher performing ads. And pixel tools like Pixelfy automate the process of installing and optimizing Facebook pixels for optimal conversion tracking.

With the right combination of automation tools, Shopify merchants can create a hands-off marketing engine to promote their brand and products. The key is choosing platforms that integrate well and allow centralized control of marketing campaigns. When setup properly, marketing automation can greatly enhance a store’s reach while minimizing manual busywork.

Automating Customer Service

Customer service is a crucial part of running an ecommerce business. Providing excellent support can lead to higher customer satisfaction, repeat purchases, and word-of-mouth promotion. However, handling customer inquiries can also be time and labor intensive. This is where automation comes in.

Automating parts of your customer service allows you to scale your support more efficiently. Some of the main ways to automate customer service include:


Chatbots are automated programs that can handle common customer service tasks like answering frequently asked questions and guiding users. They can be available 24/7 so customers always have quick access to self-service support. Chatbots can understand natural language and provide personalized responses. Popular chatbot apps for Shopify include Chatfuel, Flow XO, and ManyChat.


Having comprehensive and well-organized FAQ pages allows customers to quickly find answers to common questions on their own. This reduces the number of repetitive inquiries your agents need to handle. Shopify has built-in FAQ functionality that lets you create and manage FAQs right from your store admin. You can also enhance your FAQs using apps like Gorgias.

Automated Emails

Setting up automated emails to handle common scenarios like order confirmations, shipping updates, and abandoned carts can take these routine tasks off your plate. Shopify lets you create templates and automate various types of emails to customers. Useful apps like Privy can help deploy cart abandonment email sequences.

Customer Service Ticketing Systems

Ticketing systems like Zendesk and Help Scout allow you to manage all your customer inquiries from one centralized platform. You can automate parts of the ticketing process with features like canned responses, macros, and ticket assignment rules. This improves efficiency for you and your support team.

When thoughtfully implemented, customer service automation allows ecommerce businesses to deliver more responsive and scalable support. The key is finding the right balance between automation and human touch to meet your customers’ needs. Start with automating repetitive tasks so your team can focus on providing personalized service for more complex issues.

Choosing Automation Apps and Tools

Shopify offers a wide variety of apps and tools to help automate various parts of your ecommerce store. Here are some of the top options to consider:

Order and Inventory Management

  • Order Printer – Automatically prints packing slips and shipping labels when an order is placed.

  • Inventory Planner – Tracks inventory levels and can automatically replenish stock.

  • Auto DS – Dropshipping automation including order routing and tracking.

Marketing and Customer Engagement

  • Klaviyo – Automates email and SMS marketing campaigns based on customer behaviors.

  • Privy – Allows you to create popups, announcement bars, and other tools to boost engagement.

  • – Automates running promotions and loyalty programs.

Customer Service

  • Chatbot – Answers common customer questions automatically via chat.

  • Connor – AI-powered virtual assistant that can respond to customer emails.

  • – Reviews automation including soliciting, moderating and responding.

Analytics and Optimization

  • Google Analytics – Tracks traffic, sales, and other metrics automatically.

  • Spocket – Auto-syncs products from dropshipping suppliers.

  • Upsell – Makes product recommendations and runs automatic upsells.

When evaluating automation apps, consider costs, ease of use, integration, and overall impact on efficiency. Start slow with 1-2 tools for your most time-consuming tasks.

Is Fully Automated Right for You?

When considering full automation for your Shopify store, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against any drawbacks to determine if it’s the right approach for your business. Here are some key factors to consider:

Pros of Full Automation

  • Requires less active management time once set up, freeing you up to focus on other priorities
  • Potential for increased efficiency and higher order volume without adding staff
  • Lower overhead costs compared to hiring more employees
  • Algorithms may be able to make some decisions more optimally than humans
  • Operations can run 24/7 without full human oversight

Cons of Full Automation

  • Upfront investment of time and money to implement and integrate automation tools
  • Ongoing software and maintenance costs
  • Potential for bugs, errors or system failures requiring troubleshooting
  • Lack of human judgment, flexibility or personalization in customer interactions
  • Customers may prefer human touch for support or complex inquiries
  • Difficult to change approaches compared to staff if strategies need adjustment

Tips for Deciding if Full Automation is Right For You

  • Consider your business’s size and current workload. Automation yields more benefits for higher order volumes.
  • Assess the complexity of your operations and products. Simpler stores tend to automate more easily.
  • Review costs vs projected ROI. Factor in software, development and training costs.
  • Determine if customers will be satisfied with automated interactions or if human touch is preferred.
  • Start small. Test automation for parts of your operations before going fully automated.
  • Have a transition plan. Automation will require changes to staff roles.

Carefully weighing these factors can determine if pursuing full Shopify automation is the right move or if a hybrid approach balancing automated tasks with human oversight may be better suited. The ideal level of automation varies by business.

Getting Started with Automating Your Shopify Store

Automating your Shopify store takes time and planning, but following these steps can set you on the path towards full automation:

Audit Your Current Processes

Take stock of all your existing store operations and identify areas that are manual, repetitive, or time consuming. These are good candidates for automation. Look at order processing, inventory management, customer communication, and marketing tasks.

Research Automation Tools

With your audit complete, research apps and tools available on the Shopify App Store that can automate the processes you identified. Read reviews and evaluate free trials to select the best automation solutions for your needs. Focus first on critical business areas like orders and inventory.

Start Small

Don’t try to automate everything at once. Begin with 1-2 tools for high priority areas. Get comfortable using them before expanding automation further. Starting small allows you to evaluate effectiveness before committing to more apps.

Integrate and Customize

Carefully integrate automation apps and tools into your existing systems. Take time to customize and optimize them for your specific store setup and workflow. Integrated automation avoids disjointed systems and maximizes efficiency.

Monitor and Refine

Track automation to confirm it’s working as intended and providing a positive ROI. Be ready to tweak and refine tools over time for optimal performance. View automation as an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. The more you use and iterate on automated systems, the more efficient your store will become.

With research, planning and gradual implementation, you can transform a manual Shopify store into a fully automated ecommerce machine. Automation takes work but can greatly simplify operations and allow you to focus on business growth.

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