Save costs with eCommerce automation this holiday season

Save costs with eCommerce automation this holiday season

Anna Loveridge profile image
Anna Loveridge
8 months ago

4 minutes read

In 2020, the UK saw online retail sales grow by 46%- the highest recorded growth for the sector in the past decade. In December alone, the ONS (Office For National Statistics) reported that overall retail sales grew by 61.4% in comparison to the previous year. This rapid growth is largely down to a shift in consumer behaviour due to national lockdown restrictions resulting from the global pandemic.


Over the past 12-18 months consumers have become accustomed to online shopping online due to; the convenience of fast delivery, competitive pricings, and unparalleled customer support. As a result; 36% of consumers now shop online weekly, online delivery increased 10 years in 8 weeks, and the digitalisation of marketplaces accelerated by as much as 7 years

The Centre for Retail Research discovered that over the six week period of Christmas 2020, brick-and-mortar retailers experienced an average fall in sales of -12.7% and online sales grew by +80%. Similarly, during the four day period of Black Friday, brick-and-mortar store sales plummeted by -63.7% whilst online sales rose by +52.9%. Another study by McKinsey discovered that of the 60% of global consumers that changed their shopping habits as a result of covid; 73-80% of them intend to continue shopping online due to convenience and competitive pricings.


These statistics paint a clear picture for what to expect during the holiday period of 2021 and many businesses are starting to make business choices to meet this demand for an improved online shopping experience. Fujitsu found that retail companies who invested in digitalisation and automation, strengthened their competitiveness (by 70%), improved efficiency, reduced costs (by 69%), and increased revenue (by 57%). As we approach the final quarter of 2021, now is the time to invest in automation to reduce costs and drive greater business for 2022. 








How much money can sales automation save?


The World Market 2020 Report revealed that a significant proportion of both employees (29%) and business leaders (43%) see technology as the biggest obstacle to doing more important tasks at work. With 29% of correspondents in corporate retail reporting to be using automation currently, and over a third (36%) see value in a strategic move towards automating repetitive tasks. 


Both business leaders and employees believe that they could save between 240 - 360 hours per year if their company was to invest in automation. It is recognised that this time could be dedicated to more skilled and valuable tasks. This research continued to reveal that data entry is among the biggest time sappers at work, for retail businesses selling across multiple channels there are job roles dedicated solely to this task of replicating data across systems. 


For instance, if a retailer is taking orders from both a marketplace like and selling direct via a Shopify website, data needs to be syncronised and updated to ensure that when an order is made, stock levels are represented accurately on both platforms, customer information is received, and shipment is notified. Without automation, a full time employee would be required to import the orders manually. During the holiday season this is a very demanding job which requires an unhuman-like level of attention to detail.

Time equals money and it is not surprising that a business could save hundreds of pounds over the holiday season alone by introducing a simple integration. The 36 day period between Black Friday (26th November) and the January Sales (1st January) is a particularly demanding time for the retail industry.







If a full-time employee - on an average monthly salary of £25,000 - spends 2 hours a day on repetitive tasks during these 36 days alone, this costs the company approximately £1000. Trying to manually process every order at the busiest time of the year for eCommerce is likely to lead to human error and more time wasted on fixing incorrect data entry, a task that could automatically be processed in the background.



According to data by ReBound returns, in 2019 it took online shoppers 12 days to return purchases bought on Black Friday (30 November). This meant that by December 12th these products were being shipped via courier back to the retailer who were tasked with introducing them back into their inventory. Without automation this could cause a huge delay in getting these products listed for sale on all channels; in the UK, online retailers lost £606 million to returned goods from Black Friday 2019. With online spending growing by 56% over Christmas 2020, it is predicted that 2021 will see a similar surge in sales. Having the technological infrastructure to support such high volumes of sales is essential to avoid errors and keep customers satisfied. 



How to integrate with 


Our API integrations that deliver the most efficiency for the seasonal period include: Marketplaces, ERPs, and Accounting Connectors. Automating processes will not only save you money, but also increase productivity and improve customer experience. 


Our Shopify to Volo ERP integration enabled Activ8 to “have all [...] orders and stock controlled by one system which [...] increased productivity time no end”. Find out more about what our customers say about us or get in touch today.