In this episode, Joe Lannen, the founder of orderautomator.com, shares proven strategies to automate your Shopify business.
On the Show Today You’ll Learn:
- Why automate daily tasks for businesses
- Why automation saves businesses a lot of money
- What cross-selling systems are and how they work
- How automation can help prevent fraud
- The tasks that shouldn't be optimized or automated
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Joe Lannen
Joe Lannen is an experienced Shopify developer with a background dating back to 2012. In 2015, he ventured into the world of eCommerce by establishing treetribe.com, where he nurtured and developed the brand until selling his stake in 2022. Building upon his expertise, Joe founded a Shopify optimization and development agency named speedboostr.com in 2018, which he later sold in the same year. In 2022, he embarked on a new venture by establishing Automator Apps, a Shopify app development company.
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Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we wanna talk about something that's very important for all merchants out there. It's about automation. Obviously, you wanna save as much as time in your business to focus on the things that are really matter, and a lot of tasks that you have on a day-to-day business you can basically automate and how that can be done, and what's the best way to do this.
That's what we wanna talk about today. So with on the show today, I have Joe, he is the founder of auto automator.com. And he has been a Shopify developer for over 10 years, a Shopify store owner for eight years, founded a Shopify optimization and development agency called Speed Buster that he sold in 2022.
And now he runs a Automator app, which basically helps merchants with automating that task. So wanna dive right into that. One thing I wanna mention, he's also a traveler like I am, so he's traveling since 2015. So Joan, I have a lot of common there. Hi Joe, how
Joe Lannen: are you today? Great. Great. Thanks, Claus. Great to meet you.
Meet you and hang out
Claus Lauter: Side of traveling. Another thing we both like is automation. So I'm a big fan of automation, helps a lot, specifically recurring tasks, boring tasks. There's a lot of things you can do to make your life a little bit easier. Now you're in the Shopify space for a long time and probably, you have automated a lot of things also as a Shopify merchant.
What got you into automation in the first
Joe Lannen: place? I was running just, traveling and managing multiple businesses. I had a Shopify store and the, optimizations agency, and I was doing consulting for Shopify stores. I was just all in on the ecosystem there. For me it was just always looking to free up my time.
I'm passionate about nature, so I just wanted to like, figure out ways to free up more time to spend more time outside of the computer. And so with that, combined with just being a store owner and identifying things that we could automate to either, automate tedious tasks or automate, increasing in sales and traffic, all that kind of stuff.
So I just got obsessed with it. Obsessed with it, and. Did a bunch of experimentations and being a developer, I started creating custom solutions in later apps to help Shopify store owners to automate different things in the store. Okay,
Claus Lauter: let's dive into these different tasks.
Is that you automated a lot of things. There was for sure some kind of priority list things that are easier to automate and things that might be a little bit more complicated, to get into automation. What were the first things that you were thinking about to automate and have them run on their own in the back end?
Joe Lannen: I'm just gonna touch on these pretty briefly, but I just wanted to say that I'm putting all this, detailed guide on our website. It'll be order automator.com/shopify automation tips, and I'm gonna have a detailed guide with different links and resources, things that I've used and diving in more.
But just to go over, some of ideas here and hopefully couple of 'em will stand out for store owners that ha haven't thought about or haven't used it yet. But the very foundation, the basic, which a lot of experienced, stores already have this, but, a lot of early phase stores I've worked with and just a lot of, even stores doing decent sales, the very first thing is setting up an email marketing flow. I like Clavio app for that. But there's a lot out there. So that's giving first time offers, first time visitor offers, doing cross sells birthday discounts. All these with ads are always getting more expensive every year.
So that's key one. With our store we were like my business partner was just fulfilling out of his house when we first started, and eventually things grew. So we ended up connecting Selling on Amazon too, which opens up a whole new channel.
And then connecting Amazon FBA with Shopify. And then that's what, my app order Automator does. It helps automate that type of process. So whether it's Amazon or Shopify Fulfillment Network, ship Bob deliver, there's a bunch of other places, but modern fulfillment and then just hiring people just to do tasks.
Any tasks that you're doing as like a business owner? I think is great to just start getting a habit of creating SOPs, standard operating procedures, and handle those for you. With just that basic stuff out of the way one of my favorite things , that we did that like showed a noticeable jump in improvements was creating affiliate program.
So with that, what we would do is create, there's a few apps there as wellers referral candy examples, but create an affiliate program and then reach out to influencers, blogs, holiday shopping guides, all kinds of websites. Pitch them on your program. For the bigger ones, you can offer free product.
But basically you get, you build up an ar eventually you build up an army of affiliates that are promoting you, linking to you on their website, on their YouTube channel, doing Instagram shoutouts. , it just creates this automated flow of traffic that just keeps increasing every month, and it's referral traffic, which tends to convert higher.
So aside from that, like a bonus that secondary bonus is you get a lot of extra back links, , with doing little work. So you get your SEO rankings bumped up there and then go back to phase step one. If you have a virtual assistant and you create an s o p. Step one, research, blogs and our product niche, whatever, you can have your detailed keywords for them.
Research these people. Reach out with this template. Mix it up. Add some personalization. Track the people you reach out on a spreadsheet. Follow up and just do that month over month to continue building more affiliates. There's an app called Click, , that allow you to set a commission rate.
So say you say 20%, I wanna attribute 20% of every sale they'll drive traffic to your site through interstitial ads, across the internet and you only pay per conversion. So it's like a hybrid model. That one we also noticed, just an instant boost in traffic and sales and it's a guaranteed positive roi.
I'm not sure, I haven't dealt in that area for a while. There might be other apps out there, but basically they're commission based advertising apps. Next up I got print on demand products, or drop shipping integrated, I really like the print on demand stuff. The margins are lower, but it's, once you connect through the app, . For example, if you're doing clothing or accessories, you just upload your design, everything syncs. Now it's on your website and you basically just add this extra sales channel and products that you have, you don't put any work into at all because it's fully automated.
So those are good to look in for, especially for clothing brands. Or another idea in that area is expanding marketplaces. One that, I like for example, is using Etsy, which we hadn't thought about for a while because we weren't like hand making stuff, but they're expanded. There's a lot of brands are just selling their products on Etsy as well. So it's an easy expanded channel and you can use an app called said commerce integration, Etsy integration that automatically syncs your products, puts 'em on Etsy, and then it automatically imports the orders to Shopify.
Another way just to get with no work involved, basically just have more traffic, more sales coming in, full automation. Checkout, upsell is another one. Is it okay if I just go through this list like this just to make sure I cover the basics? cuz I'm hoping some people might already have some of these things, but some people are like, ah, that's a cool idea.
I haven't tried that. So these are cool because, it happens after, upsell's always good, During the shopping, the customer journey, sometimes, too many upsells, or popups or something can cause friction and, could lower the conversion rate.
But the good thing about , the post checkout upsell apps is that the conversion's already made and then it's just like, oh, by the way, here's one other offer. You have nothing to lose. And then, I've used a handful of apps on that, but, the models, differ. Some of 'em, you might pay, you only pay on the conversions that happen.
Some of 'em are monthly, but, if you pay on the conversions that happen, you're, it's a guaranteed positive roi. And again, another automated marketing channel. So those are cool, and you set up rules like, okay, if someone bought, this product, offer them this, accessory that goes with it for, 10% off or however you offer, wanna do.
So that I've noticed generates automatic sales. And then another checkout. Type of situation. You can tie this in with your referral program. I'll have links to the apps that do that. but they have an automated setup. When someone buys something, you can say, Hey, share this purchase with your friends, or share this discount code with your friends.
They get X percent off their first order. You get x percent off your next order. And everybody wins. And so that is another method. The sales already happened, so you're just. percentage of those people are guaranteed gonna convert and it's a fully automated system, so I think worth experimenting with.
And then there's also bundling, traffic acquisition is always more expensive and it gets more every year. So it's always like a constant battle. Like, okay, how can we capitalize more on existing customers about either implication, conversion rate, or average order value.
So with the average order value there's bundling products and creating cross sell systems. With Automator apps, we've created custom solutions. So we can create, for example, like a custom bundling solution. So if you have a product from collection A and there's a matching product, Orion or Accessory product from collection B and we can like, have it, so it automatically shows these matching products based on rules.
Like if it's in one collection, show another collection with the matching title or tag, stuff like that. So we can create like really cool custom features. And so you can, if you sell clothes, you can say oh, complete the outfit. Here's all the things that match. And once the system is set up, then that can be auto then that's pretty much an automated.
Increase to your average, order value because naturally people are gonna add to car. They can just add it right on the page. So yeah, I recommend creating like a bundling system. In that guide, I'll have some ideas. There are some apps out there that do related products or mostly it's like related products or checkout products from this collection, this type of thing.
What we've done with our custom solutions is more specific to the store, to bundle how they want. And then we have a new automation app coming out later this summer that feature's gonna be involved, in it as well. But for right now, there's a lot of apps out there.
I remember Lime Spot being a good app. That I'd used in the past for those kind of recommendations. There's another one that, a lot of people haven't tried, but, having a cause behind your brand, anybody who's done this can recognize, like you get so many benefits out of it, but why me?
That is like, instead of just saying, Hey, we're a brand, we sell products, we sell high quality products at a fair price or whatever, that's the generic pitch. But if you're a brand that's, passionate about something or you give back, you can see a lot of benefits around that.
For example, I had a company that, every sale we, planted a tree. And then worked with different partner. So it's a nature-based brand, so we're passionate about nature. We appeal to people about that. I've actually spoken on the topic a handful of times, but, so I've researched it a lot and talked to a lot of people, but basically the basics are like, find something that you're passionate about and that makes sense to I integrating your business.
So if you sell pet. Products then you love animals, you sell pet products. every sale you donate a percentage to a adoption cherry or the best models are like a one for one, a tangible. if you can say, okay, if you buy, this product. We donate, one meal to an animal in an a need in an adoption center or something like that.
Or like, if you buy a product, we plant a tree, these type of methods. So the reason I tie that into the automation theme is because what this does is it generates, word of mouth, , sales. So those, it's like Offline kind of referrals. If you have a cause behind your brand, and this is through research and stats that I've done over the years, if you have a cause like people, one people are more likely to buy your product, especially if it's a similar price point than a competitive product.
Even if it costs more a lot of times. You're increasing your conversion rate on that. And then also with, if you excite your users and you connect with them on an emotional level, they're talking about your brand. Like if someone said, Hey, cool shirt. Oh, thanks. Yeah. Did you know this company?
They feed animal, they feed Every time you buy a shirt, they give a meal to a dog and, so you're helping dogs or whatever. so it creates these talking points and that just, Creates these untrackable but very valuable systems of getting new referral traffic to your site.
Without paying for it other than what you're, obviously paying for your charitable contributions, but creates its whole kind of system. That's worth experimenting about or giving a think about cuz I think every brand could have that opportunity. It just overall helps and, it gives you more purpose in the business, so I like that as well.
Claus Lauter: A hundred percent agree. I just saw Rista the other day touching on having a course that, generation Z, they are most likely to buy it from you if you have a course with attached to your business. So yes, and the numbers were actually staggering on what kind of impact that made for the brands using this.
Very good point there. Now the automation. So from what you said, I think you can break it down in three things. You have automation that help you with increasing your revenue, with optimizing your marketing and with optimizing your backend process, your operations. One thing you touched on in the beginning, and I like that a lot, is that you're creating standard operating procedures for your VAs.
And I'm a big fan of doing everything in the beginning in my business on my own, just to understand the process. That I know what I'm talking about. And then basically with standard operating procedures, give that to someone who is either more qualified or more motivated than me doing a specific task.
Yes. When it comes to auto automator.com to your app, there's a couple of features in there that help, was making sure, for instance, you have one, feature, a fraud guard. That you don't get charged by some us. How did you come up with these different features to help with automation?
Joe Lannen: So the app is order automator and it was when I was running my store, I was also a Shopify developer. So if we ran into something that someone on the team was like, oh yeah, I check orders every single day and I do this, or, every order that comes in with this type of product, I have to do this.
I gathered those pain points and then said, okay. To build an automated solution. And eventually that became the Order Automator app. The very first feature was automating Amazon fulfillment. Syncing inventory with Amazon and automatically fulfilling Shopify orders through Amazon updating the, tracking.
That's completely hands off for the brand. They just have the product in Amazon. Anytime Shopify comes, it's handled on the backend. That was the first feature. And then later, yeah, we added, tagging and, changing locations, different fulfillment stuff. And then, it's just on request, like the philosophy with that is with the app side.
Is that, we're building stuff for users and they're the best people to get advice from. So we like actively tell people like, Hey, if you have a feature or an idea, let us know and we'll make it happen. and we do make it happen. And that's where a lot of our reviews on the app will attest to that to where I think that's the best source to, is to your customers and just go, it goes along with your.
Shopify store, the best source of ideas for, okay. What products or designs should we do next? I think is just asking your customers and blasting out for them, one of the key features that surprisingly is not in Shopify automatically is just help with like identified fraudulent orders.
So they have the risk, they can say, oh, this is a high risk order. But if you're getting a lot of orders, you might not catch it. You have to search through your orders. Like again, that's like a daily ask. Like you could do a bookmark and like a daily task. You could bookmark and see the fraudulent orders.
But if you have systems coming to play where you have fulfillments going out, then you have to be monitoring the orders constantly like that. So the feature we have in order automator, which is in the free version, as well, if a high risk or medium risk order comes in, you can automatically have an email sent to support, you can tag the order.
You can cancel the order. Most people just prevent fulfillment on the order and notify support. So then the order's just chilling until the support can, , investigate. But there's people that use our app that have just, Hundreds of orders coming in every day and a high percentage of fraud orders, they just automatically cancel 'em.
The paint and the chargebacks are nasty, man. Having just a system in place to help catch those, helps a lot with people. Yeah, I know. I
Claus Lauter: totally agree. Charge back our pain in the neck. Now we can optimize a lot of things, outsource a lot of things.
Are there certain tasks in a business? Now I'm asking you as a business owner, are there certain tasks that you would never optimize or outsource?
Joe Lannen: I generally have a mindset of trying to s o p everything and to optimize or automate as much as possible. I figure even stuff that I probably wouldn't, automate, I would still create an s o p for it just to see, or just to have from my own.
So I think I start with just, creating SOPs for everything. And then once you look at it, be like, okay, definitely, someone else can do this.
you have an operations manager, they can mostly, then you automate much of your business other than, significant decisions. Product design can be, hired for obviously, but I think like product choice, I think that's good to be, at the owner level because to make sure what next product should we do? Is this in line with our values? Does it make sense? Doing the research to see if there's demand for this product or this one that we want to do next. That also keeps you at the owner level connected to, with your brand and your mission overall.
So I probably wouldn't automate that, some of those top level or owner decisions. but other than that, if something can be so ped, I think it's good to, try hiring it out. Okay. No
Claus Lauter: one makes perfect sense and I think within the next couple of months we will see AI solutions coming up and, will take a lot of things from your plates that don't necessarily need to be there.
Joe, where can people find out more about you and
Joe Lannen: your app? In the Shopify app store, it's Order Automator and on our website is order automator.com. And we just started a blog there, so we're gonna be doing more guides and Resources for Shopify's store owners with the, within the theme of automation.
Cuz it's just stuff that I've done for so long, I just have a lot of information built up. And I've written on the topic, on other sites. But we're gonna have more firstname.lastname@example.org, you can check that out. And the apps useful for a lot of people and even there's a free version that does, has the fraud guards, so feel free to check that out.
but Long term we're gonna have more resources and help with automation. Dive into the new stuff, like when AI gets more going too, because I'm sure there's gonna be like you said, ton of opportunities there. I will put
Claus Lauter: the links in the show notes, send you just one click away.
George, thanks so much for giving us an overview of what you can optimize in your business, to free up your time. And then probably one or the other listener or viewer of the show will become a location independent person like the two us.
Joe Lannen: Thanks so much for your time. Oh yeah, sure. It's a great, it's a great lifestyle.
I recommend that. Cool. Thanks so much. Safe, Travis. All right. Thank you. Good luck everybody on your shop by store.
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