How to Never Work Again

A guest article by Aaron Bowen, at ifshop. ifshop is a tool that watches for and responds to events in real time, so you can focus your energy on being the heart of your business.

Bot automation is one of the hottest tech trends for the forward-thinking consumer and merchant alike. The premise is simple: set up a program to react to events in a predictable way. This frees up your time and mental bandwidth to engage in more complex tasks (e.g. customer service).

At the heart of this mechanism are if-this-then-that rules:

If an event occurs then take an action.

If-this-then-that rules are exceptionally flexible by definition, allowing you to toss just about any event and action into the equation. Conditions (like “only take action if the event occurs on Tuesday”) bring even greater flexibility and allow you to focus in on the events you really care about.

If an event occurs and a condition is true then take an action.

As a merchant, fully customizable events, conditions, and actions make you limitless, expanding your ability without the need for more staff. Both Zapier and IFTTT have realized this and created popular, powerful automation platforms.

Until recently, this kind of automation wasn’t available for Shopify merchants in a flexible way. Many apps on the Shopify App Store are specialized instances of if-this-then-that automation, meaning these apps are limited by premise to a very select set of events and actions. Take the Free Shipping Bar by Hextom, for example. This app specializes in the action “display a free shipping banner”, where the event is simply “a visitor arrives at your website”. The app also has limited capabilities for conditions like, “show the banner only on certain pages” or “only on certain browsers”. Specialization aside, this app fits beautifully into the powerful if-this-then-that model. Here are some others:

1. Pixelpop shows popups on your sites’ pages. This app provides some flexibility for event selection, by offering different options like “When a visitor tries to leave your site”, or “When a visitor visits your site for the nth time”. Then, the subsequent action is always “display a popup”. Like the Free Shipping Bar, this app allows you to state a few conditions like “the page URL must match a certain pattern”.

Example: If a visitor tries to leave your site and they are located in the USA then display a popup.

2. Locksmith provides shop security in a way that breaks down into if-this-then-that components very cleanly. Generally speaking, this app’s event is “a visitor attempts to view a page” or “a visitor attempts to view a particular piece of information”; the action is generally either “let the user in” or “hide the information”. Since the events and actions around security are very simple, Locksmith’s bread and butter are the conditions. These vary greatly from “the time must be after 3pm” to “the customer must have certain tags”.

Example: If a visitor tries to view your product price and they are are signed in and they are located in Italy then display the product price.

3. Smart Cart Recovery lets you select different time intervals after which to send cart recovery emails to your shop’s visitors. Here the passage of time itself is the event - something like “if 2 days pass without the visitor checking out”. The action is fixed at “send an email”, and conditions allow you to require different site referral sources, life Facebook, or Google.

Example: If 24 hours pass without the visitor checking out and they were referred by Instagram then send them a recovery email.

4. ifshop’s goal is to provide complete flexibility in choosing how your event, condition, and action components fit together. Instead of focusing in on a particular set of components and building a user interface around it, this app prioritizes flexibility over specialization.

Example: If an order is made that contains an expensive item and the customer is tagged ‘nervous’ then send them a reassuring email then tag the order ‘high-priority’.

Take a second and think about which tasks in your shop fit the if-this-then-that model, no matter how complicated. What tasks could you have a bot do? Or what tasks could you reshape or break into pieces so that a bot could do them? At the end of the day, the shop with the most automation can handle the most throughput. Take the cake, use automation to get there.

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