Using Shopify Flow To Automate Your Online Store Growth
BAO Shopify Plus Series: Using Flow to Automate Your Online Store Growth
When considering what platform to choose for your ecommerce business, it's important to not only look at what is suitable for your immediate needs, but also how the platform will work for you in the long term. A platform which is too rigid will restrict your growth and cause you to spend unnecessary time and money searching for work-arounds and heavy customisations to give you the flexibility to work with your changing business needs. That’s just one of the reasons why By Association Only chose to become Shopify Plus Partners, as we know that the platform is built with flexibility at its heart, enabling us to utilize specialist features, and effectively work with merchants as they scale.
Amongst these enterprise features, one which we have extensive experience of using to support business growth is a service called Shopify Flow.
Shopify Flow was built with merchants' pain points in mind, and arose out of the understanding that every day merchants are faced with competing demands on their time. Automation is king, and an integrated automation platform with the ability to execute tasks with speed, and connect to the tools you use, is game changing in enabling you to focus on the work that matters.
In a nutshell, Flow automates your processes, experiments, and campaigns across your store and apps. Most importantly, Flow’s automation creates room for growth.
Of course, each individual business is unique in its needs, with different processes and store environments, and that’s where the flexibility of Shopify Plus and Flow comes into its own. Flow’s logic is simple, with an easy 3-step setup to automate tasks and ideas, and with each flow completely customised to how your business works.
Workflows start by getting triggered from an event on your store, like when a new order is created. Then, set conditions determine if the workflow should run or not, like if the order is over $100. Finally, Flow’s end with an action, like adding a VIP tag to that high value customer. It's as simple as a trigger listening for a webhook, and an action making an API call, but the ability to reclaim that manual time spent is invaluable.
So, how do Flow’s automations and time savings actually translate into growth for your business? Well, aside from allowing you to better utilize your team and their skill sets, there are several key scenarios where Flow can support growth via automation. We’ll run through the most common ones we at By Association Only support our merchants with below.
1. Reward loyal customers
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer, and the success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, vs 5-20% for new customers.* That makes loyalty, and Flow’s loyalty automations, valuable assets to you in terms of both revenue and business growth.
There are two Flow scenarios we can look at here, 1) where you already have a loyalty programme setup, using a loyalty partner such as Loyalty Lion, and 2) where you do not have a loyalty programme setup, but still want to reward loyal customers as part of wider retention strategy.
In the first scenario, Flow can connect with your loyalty partner and action tasks within the partner itself, based on trigger events on your store. For example, you may want to drive loyalty by identifying shoppers who did not create an account when they purchased from your store. Using Flow, you could encourage those customers who checked out as guests to become members of the loyalty programme by emailing them directly from Loyalty Lion, letting them know they have points waiting for them. You may also want to award additional bonus points for those who return and create an account as a result.**
Trigger > Condition > Action
Customer checks out as guest > Customer accepts marketing in Shopify > Email customer
In the second scenario mentioned, loyalty can still be rewarded by tracking certain customer groups, and then using that segmentation for targeted advertising campaigns, thereby encouraging repeat purchases. These Flow’s typically segment customers based on lifetime spend, or amount of orders, as you can see in the following example.
Here, a tag of ‘Gold VIP’ is being used to segment customers based on certain triggers and conditions. An email (the action) is then being sent to the merchants customer service team to alert them that this is a loyal customer, and to encourage them to get in touch with those tagged customers to reward their loyalty. You could also set this flow up to trigger an email direct to the customer within your ESP, rather than the email being sent to your customer service team.
2. Enhanced user experience
Give users a great experience, and they’ll reward you with their trust and business. It sounds so simple, but user experience (UX) is often a neglected area when it comes to business growth. Often perceived as more labour intensive in terms of data analysis and development work, UX is all too often pushed aside for lower hanging fruit. However, by utilising Shopify Flow, merchants could automate some aspects of UX optimisation and reap the rewards, both financially by increasing store conversion rates, and operationally by reducing time spent internally.
One area commonly mentioned in relation to UX optimisation is personalisation. In this scenario, Shopify Flow can be used by tagging customers based on their previous purchase behaviour, in order to serve them personalised content when they return to your store. The following example Flow explains this in a little more detail:
As you can see, Flow is tagging customers based on the SKU of the product purchased (you could also use product name, barcode, vendor, etc). That covers the trigger (purchase), and condition (SKU match). The action here is then that when a customer returns to the store and is logged in, they see personalised store content and recommendations, based on their tag. This scenario does require a few small theme code changes to ensure tagged customers see the right content, however the time saved by using Flow in this way in comparison to a full personalisation setup is extensive!
Another way in which Flow can enhance user experience is by linking to your customer support service, and creating a support ticket whenever you receive a negative review. Here, a merchant is using a review partner called stamped.io, and has a trigger and condition setup when a customer submits a review of 2 stars or less. The action is that a support ticket is automatically created in the customer support service Gorgias, enabling their team to contact the customer and address their issues. Reviewing these tickets would also allow a merchant to potentially identify trends across products, again enabling their team to address issues before more time and money is invested in ads and inventory.
3. Easier store management
As your business grows, so can your workload. With more customers to manage, orders to process, and inventory to organise, it can be hard to know what to focus your time on. Luckily for those who chose Shopify Plus, Flow can help here and alleviate pressure on store management as you scale.
The simplest, but perhaps most vital, example of Flow aiding your operations is by risk mitigation. When an order comes in that is identified as ‘high risk’***, Flow can be used to automatically cancel the order, restock the product inventory, and send a notification to the customer. This not only provides you with the automated benefit of Shopify’s years of fraud detection experience, but also removes the hassle of managing those high risk orders once they come through.
Another way in which Flow can help ease the workload of your store management is by understanding your product inventory. Inventory management and analysing order data can be a challenge for any growing business, however Flow can be set up to reorder low stock products and pause marketing campaigns, automating the process of replenishing inventory exactly when you need to. This not only saves valuable time, but also improves ROI by avoiding promotion of products that are out of stock! The following example Flow explains this in a little more detail.
Subject: Initiate reorder for ABC Inc. - Product: T-Shirt - Red / L
Body: Please initiate a reorder for T-Shirt - Red / L.. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with purchase order for approval. We currently only have 8 left in stock of this product. Thank you!
As you can see, the trigger here is based on inventory, however there is also a condition which means the Flow will only run when a product does not have a “discontinue” tag, enabling you to still have complete control as to if/when you want to replenish the product.
Finally, the last way in which Flow can aid your business growth via store management automation is by notifying you when an out of stock item is in high demand. By understanding demand, you can optimise the best time to purchase new inventory, ensuring your store always has the products available that customers want to buy. This type of Flow would be set up by connecting to an app such as Back in Stock, which adds an out of stock email capture to your product page. The Flow triggers once a product has a certain amount of customers waiting for it to be back in stock and sends an email to your team, saving you valuable time in understanding what products are in high demand on your store, and therefore which inventory should be purchased to optimise sales.
The possibilities with Flow are almost endless, and the above are just a few examples of the ways we at By Association Only use Flow to support our merchants with growth via automation. If you are a merchant on Shopify Plus and are looking for ways to automate key processes, enabling you to focus on the work that matters, Flow should definitely be a consideration for your team!
Please feel free to contact our Growth Team on 01480 467 916 / email@example.com for further information on Flow, and to discuss your growth journey in more detail.