Automate Your E-Commerce Store Using Zapier

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It’s an incredible time to be an e-commerce store owner. There are literally hundreds of different tools available to help you manage and run your store. You can use tools to help you with project management, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing, and social media marketing. The list goes on and on.

These tools provide a lot of power, but if you aren’t careful, they can also create a lot of extra work for you. So how do you keep your systems in sync without overloading yourself with a ton of extra work?

Enter Zapier

Zapier is a tool that is designed specifically for connecting different apps and data together. From their site:

Zapier lets you easily connect the web apps you use, making it easy to automate tedious tasks.

You can wait for third-party app developers to offer the SaaS integrations you need. You can hire expensive freelance programmers to build custom software for you.

Or you can simply do it yourself with Zapier, and then get back to the work that matters most to your business.

How Zapier Works

Zapier can connect two different apps together to share data. This connection is referred to as a “Zap” using Zapier’s terminology. The connection has two components: a Trigger and an Action.

Shopify To Buffer Zap

Triggers

A Trigger in Zapier is an event that occurs from the source app that you want to then send on to another app via an Action. Common triggers for Zapier’s e-commerce integrations include:

  • A new product is added to your store
  • A new order is received by your store
  • A new customer is added to your store

Actions

An Action in Zapier is the thing that needs to be done after a Trigger occurs. Actions always involve sharing data in some way with another app. Common actions you may need to perform for your e-commerce store:

  • Posting new products to social media: Buffer, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
  • Sharing order information with your accounting system: Quickbooks, Xero
  • Add customers to mailing lists: Mailchimp, Drip, Infusionsoft
  • Add customers your CRM: Salesforce, Zendesk
  • Creating tasks based on new orders within your project management system: Trello, Asana

Which E-Commerce Stores Does Zapier Support?

Zapier has apps for the following stores:

  • Shopify
  • Magento
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Etsy

However, if your store is not listed, there are other (indirect) ways to integrate with Zapier. For example:

  • Upload a spreadsheet of your data to Google Sheets
  • Send emails to a Zapier email address
  • Use an RSS feed as the source of data for Products

How Much Does Zapier Cost?

Zapier charges based on usage. They currently have a free tier starting at $0 with additional plans as high as $125 per month. There is also an Enterprise option available if you fall outside of their advertised plans.

Zapier Limitations

Zapier can be a great tool for hooking your apps together for your store. However, there are a few limitations with using Zapier that may warrant further consideration.

Data Is Not Guaranteed

If the data you are synchronizing between apps must be delivered, Zapier is probably not the best choice. Apps go down all of the time for a variety of reasons such as stability issues, planned maintenance, network issues, etc. Zapier does have support for paid accounts to replay transactions. However, there is no guarantee that every failed transaction will be recorded and replayable.

If the data you are synching must be guaranteed, you are probably better off building a custom integration where you can build in more specific safe-guards. At the very least, you should probably audit your data every so often to ensure accuracy.

Complex Integrations Not Possible

Zapier’s primary use-case is: A Trigger in one App results in an Action in one or more Apps. As a result, Zapier is not so good at things like:

  • Updating multiple items at once based on a Trigger
  • Handling non-standard custom fields in apps
  • Complex business rules as part of Actions

If you need to do something special that is not supported with Zapier’s built-in functionality, you may be forced to write your own custom integration. Zapier does have the ability to write a custom private apps and run them within the Zapier ecosystem. However, if you are going to build something custom, you may be better off avoiding the Zapier fees and going direct for most cases.

Historical Data Not Supported

Zapier Zaps are primarily focused on real-time Triggers. As a result, Zapier is not directly able to support loading in historical data, such as all existing Customers. There may be a workaround such as by loading your data into a Google Sheet first. However, this is not directly supported.

Data May Become Out Of Sync

Since Zapier is basically just making copies of your data in multiple places, it is highly likely that the data will become out of sync over time. For example, suppose your e-commerce store gets a new customer, and you update your CRM with their information. If the customer modifies their address in your e-commerce store, there is currently no support for pushing these changes to your CRM. This limitation may be reduced as each of the Zapier apps adds more Triggers and Actions to support updating data. However, the current landscape makes it very likely the data will diverge over time.

Cost

If your store deals with a large volume of orders or products, you may quickly end up in the higher pricing tier within Zapier. If you have a smaller inventory of products or orders, you may be able to keep costs to a reasonable level.

Summary

Zapier can be an excellent tool for integrating the various apps you use to run and manage your e-commerce store without having to hire a software developer. This can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money and allow you to focus on other core parts of your business.

However, bear in mind there are several drawbacks to the Zapier approach for managing your data such as lack of guaranteed delivery and consistency of the data across your different system. Despite these drawbacks, there are plenty of solid use cases for using Zapier within your e-commerce store.

If you have any experiences using Zapier you’d like to share, or any questions, let me know in the comments.

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