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4 Must-Have Ecommerce Automations If you're selling something online, make your life easier with these tools.

By Adam Callinan

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Technology has come to an exciting place that allows us to automate nearly any process or procedure that would have historically clogged up our days -- and sometimes nights. The beauty of many of these automations is that they've become rather inexpensive to create -- another benefit of advancing technology -- so there is often strong competition in the space.

What does this mean to you as the consumer? It means that you have options, and they seem to get better every day.

Related: How to Make Your Ecommerce Site Happen

Let's take a look at four must-have ecommerce automations that have the capacity to save enormous amounts of time.

1. Shipstation

Early on in a startup, it likely makes sense to keep control of as many of the processes that you possibly can. Now, I know that I'm preaching "automation" in this article, which would typically mean utilizing the services of a third-party logistics (3PL) firm for order fulfillment. I do, however, believe that at the point of launching your product -- and for at least the following few months -- it makes sense to control all processes that have a direct interaction with your customer.

With that said, Shipstation is a tool that integrates with your shopping cart and your Stamps.com, UPS or FedEx accounts. Rules -- called "automations" -- can be easily set that allow you to login to Shipstation and just click "print," resulting in the creation of all necessary packing slips and shipping labels -- an extremely simple and incredible time saver.

2. Desk

You know when you're on a site and are in search of help, then stumble upon its "support forum" that's chock full of helpful articles and the ability to submit a ticket to the company for further assistance? That's Desk -- or one of its handful of competitors. This automation is important because it allows you to create and host a public and ongoing dialogue between you and your customers, which can reduce your inbound questions tremendously by providing the answers to the most often asked questions in a living and breathing forum.

When you have a "ticket submission" from an inquiring consumer, you can create "macros" -- or automated responses -- for your most typical questions that allow you to respond in seconds with what feels like a personal touch. You can also set up a live chat function, along with a laundry list of other options.

Related: Shyp Wants to Make Online Shopping Returns Easy Peasy

3. Facebook videos

Yes I know, this typically wouldn't be included as an "automation," but it has worked well for automating revenue so I'm doing it anyway! My reasoning is this: If you can figure out how to use Facebook videos within your ad platform, you can effectively automate your marketing, and thus, automate your revenue generation in a surprisingly controllable manner.

For example, at BottleKeeper we use the Facebook video platform as our main source of daily customer acquisition. We have the system dialed in to the point that it requires less than 15 minutes of maintenance per day and generates a scarily dependable revenue stream.

4. WooCommerce

If you're going to sell something online, hence ecommerce, you're going to need a shopping cart -- unless of course you're a master programmer and intend to build one yourself, which is still probably a bad idea. The good news is that there are a number of great options that will plug right into your website that are both easy to setup and maintain, as well as mobile optimized -- which is incredibly important.

As mentioned before, there are a number of options -- Shopify, Magento -- but we've had the best success with WooCommerce, which happens to have a plugin or extension for about anything you could possibly need. Creating a subscription payment system, want a rewards or referral program or in need of a certain reporting function? No worries, just plug it in.

Do you have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related: Answer These 7 Questions Before Hiring an Ecommerce Consultant

Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

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