Keeping track of online purchases can get messy. Even if you keep your mailbox neatly organised, it is hard to get a clear overview of all your purchases without having to re-open individual emails. Unsurprisingly, many of these templated emails are well-structured. It is simple enough to extract valuable information, such as total price, product name, delivery status, etc. Attachments are precious too. They are typically invoices or order confirmations.
The problem cannot be resolved by just keeping your mailbox organised. An expense tracker won’t help either as it solves a slightly different problem. I simply wanted to keep a single overview of all my purchases for the past quarter or so.
Make provides an excellent integration with Google platform as well as tools for text processing. This, along with well-structured automated email replies, creates an opportunity to reduce time waste. Instead of maintaining a spreadsheet by hand, new rows can be appended automatically as soon as emails arrive in my inbox.
My solution is a fairly straightforward scenario that does the following:
- watches for new emails and filters them by the sender
- extracts useful information from the email subject and the body
- downloads all attachments and bundles them into a single archive file
- streams the parsed information into a spreadsheet
- uploads the archive onto Google Drive and updates the relevant row in the spreadsheet by a link to the archive
It is a simple solution that has a lot of space for improvements. Nevertheless, I tweaked it for my needs and it saves me about five to ten minutes a week. It doesn’t seem like much, but think of cost per transaction - e.g. opening an email message, gathering all the information by hand and manually downloading and saving attachments. Imagine how much time would it save if you are a small business.
Curious to learn more? Check details in my blog post or watch this tutorial I created.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know below!