For Business

6 time-saving hacks to help you prioritize innovation

Can’t find time to focus on product innovation? These hacks can help.

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Running your own ecommerce site can be both rewarding and stressful. You’ve got to keep track of so many moving parts on a daily basis—from inventory management to shipping to customer support. You also have to be knowledgeable across a variety of disciplines such as marketing, web design, accounting, and human resources.

It can be exhausting, and leave you little time to think about the more forward-looking, innovative projects that you refuse to erase from your white board.

We feel your pain, so we wanted to share a few time-saving tips from merchants who added Buy with Prime to their sites.

Finding time to innovate and connect

The founder of BEING, a vegan skincare line, used to fullfill all the orders herself. Kennedy Lowery spent hours packing orders in boxes, printing hundreds of shipping labels, and making many trips to ship them.

Buy with Prime streamlines order processing and fullfilment and gives merchants their time back. With Buy with Prime, Kennedy says, she can focus on connecting with customers and innovating.

Finding time for marketing and customer support

Great Circle Machinery is a unique ecommerce business—it sells heavy-duty tools and equipment directly to consumers. The company used to spend most of its time trying to keep up with shopper expectations, like figuring out fast shipping of bulky industrial equipment that can weigh hundreds of pounds.

But now, after adding Buy with Prime to its site, Great Circle Machinery is making it easier for shoppers to checkout and get the tools of their dreams shipped fast. Using the Buy with Prime marketing toolkit, the merchant can focus on engaging Prime members, while also having more time to focus on educating and helping customers.

Finding time to develop new products

The Gentle Living company used to sell its support pillows only through Amazon.com, and when the founders decided to scale their business and build a stronger brand, they launched their own ecommerce site.

Recently, Gentle Living added Buy with Prime and saw increases in site traffic and conversions. Now, the founders can afford to direct more resources to customer support, improve their existing and develop new products, from neck pillows to weighted blankets.

The right tools can help grow your business and simplify your operations. We also put together a list of six time-saving hacks from productivity experts that can help you focus on the most rewarding part of running a business—delighting your customers.

1. Track your time

Every business is different, so the division of tasks you need to perform daily will vary. The percentage of time you spend on customer service, marketing or fulfillment depends on the products you sell, the number of employees, and the type of ecommerce business you’re running.

It would make sense to start off by tracking your time: you can use a free tool like RescueTime to see whether you are staying on track or if those valuable minutes are being wasted away on something non-essential.

2. Apply the 80/20 rule

How do you decide what’s non-essential? Scientists recommend applying the Pareto Principle, one of the key rules in effective time management.

“The key to the Pareto Principle is to identify that around 20% of one’s actions on the most productive tasks lead to the most success,” writes Olivia Guy-Evans for SimplyPsychology. “Essentially, if we spend a short amount of time on what is really important, this will yield greater results than focusing on as many things as possible.”

In ecommerce, this can mean focusing on the top 20% of your customers, products, or traffic channels. Marketing experts from the University of Maryland suggest focusing your marketing efforts on your most recent shoppers and repeat shoppers.

For products, “determine your ‘Hot Sellers’, those items that make up 80% of your sales,” writes Ginger S. Myers. “These are the core products that you should work to enhance, promote, advertise, and push.”

Here’s where Buy with Prime can help: Add Buy with Prime to the best-sellers on your site, and see the 80/20 rule in action.

3. Focus your energy

Even after tracking time and focusing your energy, it can be hard to get rid of distractions.

Experts from Fast Company recommend a few productivity tips that can apply to any ecommerce business. They suggest cutting back unnecessary meetings and limiting your to-do lists.

“Give your team guidance on the three most important things to focus on,” writes Matt Domo, CEO FifthVantage. “Prioritize and dedicate focused time to those activities that move the needle on what’s most important. Cancel all meetings not directly related to those things for all involved.”

Whether you apply Matt’s advice to yourself or your team, these simple tweaks can help you get the most out of your day.

4. Unwind and take breaks

While it might feel like a luxury to spend your valuable time resting, productivity experts and scientists agree that this is a good practice. Taking time to rest and slowing down was proven to result in higher productivity.

Researcher and consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang wrote a best-selling book on the relationship between productivity, creativity, and unwinding, where the author dove into psychological studies and the lives of renowned artists and scientists.

“When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems,” he said in an interview to Scientific American. “The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions. And then once it has arrived at one that looks promising, that is what pops into your head as an Aha! moment.”

Whether it’s a midday power nap, a relaxing walk or 10 minutes of meditative breathing exercises, taking some type of self-care break can aid in your personal productivity.

5. Streamline tasks with automation

A number of tech tools can help you save time by automating routine tasks. Tech leaders interviewed by Forbes suggest starting with reading the user manuals and FAQs for any new (software or hardware) tool—this can help you get acquainted with it quicker and avoid costly mistakes later on.

They also offer advice on ways to speed up some tasks by using dictation apps, improve team communications with collaborative apps such as Slack, and take advantage of project management tools to help automate the tracking of your ongoing tasks.

Technology doesn’t just help automate, computers are also experts on running many simultaneous processes. Watch this TED video to hear from Brian Christian, a best-selling author and computer scientist, on how machines manage their workloads and what humans can learn from them. Hint: don’t prioritize tasks and make lengthy to-do lists, concentrate on getting things done as they come in.

6. Embrace outsourcing

Sometimes, automating tasks is not enough. Ecommerce merchants can outsource (to a Buy with Prime Agency Partner, for example) some of the most time-consuming jobs, while spending more time on the unique components of their business. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends outsourcing accounting, marketing, shipping, or other routine functions that are essential, but can be performed by experienced specialists.

“Outsourcing allows you to get more done and trust important tasks and processes to professionals, without having to actually grow your full-time team in a significant way,” writes Anita Campbell for SBA. “It allows you to keep costs under control, increase efficiency and focus on the parts of your business that you actually enjoy and are good at.”

Whether any of the productivity tips help for you and your team, we hope you’ll experiment with them so you can live the dream you had for your business.

If fulfillment and order logistics is something that keeps you up at night, learn how Buy with Prime can help simplify your ecommerce operations.

Kelby Johnson