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10 Ways to Automate Your Back Office Tasks with Shopify Flow

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As you start scaling your business, inventory management and fulfillment processes can be inefficient and painful. Repetitive tasks that once were manageable start to take over the most important part of your day—growing your business.

Tasks like fulfilling orders, reconciling payments, and managing inventory makes taking control of your time that more challenging. Good time management is critical in being able to grow your business without impacting day-to-day operations, but how do you find more time in your day?

This is where Shopify Flow, our powerful ecommerce automation tool, can help you take care of day-to-day back office tasks with less effort, and win you back valuable time. Flow allows you to build workflows that lets you put repetitive tasks on autopilot, without needing to touch a single line of code. You can use out-of-the-box templates that are ready to go, or quickly create your own customized workflows that solve your unique business needs.

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Note: This app is only available to customers on Advanced and Shopify Plus plans.

Here are 10 Shopify Flow workflows to streamline your inventory management and order fulfillment tasks:

1. Prepare draft Shopify Shipping labels

Based on data from Shopify’s Future of Commerce report, 37% of online shoppers are frustrated when shipping takes too long. It’s more important than ever to ensure that your fulfillment process is as efficient as possible. 

A great way to speed up fulfillment is by identifying orders that you’re consistently fulfilling in the same way and preparing their shipping labels automatically. For example, you might use the same label attributes for orders with certain products, shipping methods, or their fulfillment country. Use these templates to automatically prepare draft shipping labels for specific orders, so all you have to do is review and buy.

2. Notify your fulfillment team of expedited shipping

To meet your customers’ shipping expectations, it’s a good idea to flag orders with expedited shipping to your fulfillment team so they can prioritize them and get those orders out the door faster. 

This template sends an email notification to your fulfillment team for orders that have paid for expedited shipping and adds a tag for easy organization.

3. Manage inventory and reordering for low-stock items

Inventory automation is crucial for growing brands. Not only does it help your team run more efficiently, but it also helps improve the customer experience.

You can use this workflow to automatically reorder any product that reaches low-stock volumes.

Your team will automatically receive a notification, and Flow will send a reorder email to your vendor. Flow will also add a tag so it can display low stock at your store to create urgency for the customer.

4. Tag and organize products 

When importing new products to your store, it’s important that they’re properly tagged and organized in the right collections. Taking the time to do this is key to improving searchability for your team and your customers, but as your business scales this can become a cumbersome task.

This workflow helps you automatically tag products to ensure they are properly labeled and show up in the right places, speeding up inventory management and ensuring your customers can find what they’re looking for.

5. Hide, pause, and republish products

It’s important that when products are out of stock you communicate this to your customers. There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching a product page and finding it’s not, in fact, available for purchase. To avoid this experience and increase your chances of making other product sales, consider this workflow that hides and republishes products at the right time.

When an item goes out of stock, this workflow automatically hides the product from your online store and notifies your marketing team to pause any marketing efforts that include that item. When the item is back in stock, it will republish the product to the online store and let your marketing team know to reactivate the ads.

6. Review high risk orders

Dealing with high risk orders is complicated. This process often requires verifying orders manually, contacting facilities, and paying product costs and chargeback fees. Custom clothing retailer Shelfies found an efficient way to deal with this problem.

Using Shopify Flow, they set up a workflow that immediately identifies orders flagged as high risk and automatically sends an email to the appropriate printing manufacturer requesting that production be halted and the order be canceled.

To help you flag high-risk orders, use this template to set off an action that sends an email or Slack notification to your customer service team to review high-risk orders before capturing payment.

If the order risk is medium or low, it will automatically capture the payment. For this workflow to execute properly, you must have manual payment capturing setup for your store.

7. Cancel, refund, and restock orders from known bad actors

Bots and fraudsters are an unwanted side effect of having flash sales or exclusive and unique products. You also want to be ready for these bad actors during busy seasons, such as Black Friday Cyber Monday or the winter holidays.

Flow is there to help you take them on. Set up this template where all you need is the email or IP addresses of known resellers. Then, if a blocklisted shopper places an order, Flow automatically cancels it and restocks the item in your inventory, so that your customers have a higher chance of buying your products.

8. Check fulfillment status after a set number of days

According to the 2022 Future of Shipping and Logistics report 58% of online shoppers expect free next-day delivery. This means brands have to fulfill faster than ever before. And if something goes wrong, you need to resolve the issue quickly and reach out to the customer to keep them in the loop. 

The Check on Fulfillment Flow template helps you manage this process more efficiently. With this template, you are automatically alerted via Slack message when a fulfillment is not completed within two days. The details of delayed orders are also tracked in a spreadsheet. As a result, you’ll always be made aware of slow and late fulfillments, and have the opportunity to proactively reach out to your customers to manage or remedy the experience.

9. Track special orders based on conditions

Managing and tagging special orders manually can be time consuming and inefficient, and at times it requires coordination from multiple parties, leading to human error.

The Track special orders based on powerful conditions template automatically adds order tags when a certain kind of order is created and notifies you of it. You can use operators and conditions for use cases such as these:

  • Customer’s email address includes “.edu” or your domain name
  • Segment-specific discount code is used (or not used)
  • Orders that come from a certain sales channel
  • Orders that come from a particular billing country (or not)
  • Customers whose purchase is tax exempt
  • Shipping method price is free
  • Specific payment gateways are used
  • Discounts on the order totaled above a set threshold

You can customize this workflow in numerous ways to fit your business needs. 

10. Gain insights into your returns

Returns provide an opportunity to improve your brand’s customer experience and build a loyal customer base. In fact, 96% of buyers who are satisfied with a merchant’s return process said they were likely to purchase from them again.

With this workflow, you can tag customers who have refunded over $100 in an order. You could then create a support ticket to follow up specifically with that customer to see why they weren’t happy with the products or the experience and figure out how you can improve. 

Shopify Flow's purpose-built, easy-to-use customizable templates will help you streamline your back office operations and win back the most valuable resource—your time. Start using Flow today to automate your day-to-day tasks so you can get more done and focus on building your business.

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