When you started your e-commerce business, the workload may have been just about right for one person. Now, however, your business has grown and you likely have far too many responsibilities. In fact, you may even be spending hours of your time each week just on basic tasks, like admin. In addition, you may struggle with some of the more complex activities, such as web design.
The solution is to find an e-commerce virtual assistant. With a VA, you can receive the exact skills you need without the hassle and expense of hiring an employee. Plus, you’ll pay for just the hours you need — for instance, around the holiday season, you may have much more work than the other three quarters of the year.
How to Find a Virtual Assistant for Your E-Commerce Store
You have two main options to hire an e-commerce virtual assistant: you can go through an agency or search for a freelancer.
Virtual Assistant Agencies
By far the faster way to find an e-commerce virtual assistant is to use an agency. You’ll be matched with a VA who has the exact skills you need. The agency will also take care of payments and, if you have any issues with your virtual assistant, you can immediately change to someone else. One last benefit is that it’s easy to increase your hours. If your original VA lacks time, the agency can assign a second person to take on the additional work.
Many business owners appreciate the speed and ease of working with an agency. Others, though, prefer to have more control over the hiring process and want to pick the individual they’ll work with. Using an agency also means you’ll pay a standard rate rather than looking for a virtual assistant within your budget.
Freelance Virtual Assistants
You can find freelance e-commerce virtual assistants on job sites and freelancer platforms. Either will allow you to search for the exact skills you want and find VAs within your budget. You’ll need to write a job description and wait for people to reply or reach out to potential candidates. Then, you’ll need to make a shortlist of candidates and interview each in turn to find out if they have the skills and experience you require.
The extra steps involved in hiring an e-commerce virtual assistant this way could mean a delay of several days before a VA can start working for you. Plus, if you have any problems with your virtual assistant, you’ll need to start the process again.
Tasks You Can Outsource
It’s possible to outsource practically any aspect of the business that doesn’t require your expertise.
1. Customer Service
Offering customers a great experience is key to gaining repeat business. Although this is a crucial aspect of running an e-commerce store, it’s also time consuming. A virtual assistant can respond to your messages and emails, answer your calls, and even interact with customers through social media and live chat. As well as retaining customers, exceptional customer service can help you avoid negative reviews.
2. Store Design or Development
The look and feel of your e-commerce store plays a major role in the success of your business. This requires a professional web design. Even if you’ve already set up a store, you may need support making updates, such as adding new webpages, correcting errors, and implementing data-driven changes to improve conversion rates.
You may also benefit from a VA with web development skills. A developer can create you a new e-commerce store, allowing you to expand your business. For instance, if you’re only selling on Amazon, an e-commerce virtual assistant could create a Shopify or BigCommerce store for you.
3. Order Processing
Some of your most monotonous tasks involve processing orders, managing shipments, and sending invoices. A virtual assistant with basic knowledge of e-commerce can handle all this for you. As well as fulfilling new orders, your VA can manage returns and exchanges.
4. Research and Product Sourcing
An e-commerce virtual assistant can research what kinds of products are trending, what items your customers are likely to buy, and what your competitors are doing. Experienced VAs can also use their connections with manufacturers and other suppliers to identify opportunities for procuring new products in your niche.
5. Inventory Management and Orders
Another monotonous task is inventory management. As this requires close attention to detail, there’s a high risk of mistakes if you try to fit it around all the other work in your schedule. A virtual assistant who knows how to interpret data can also figure out the ideal time to order new products to ensure you never run out, but at the same time avoid wasting money and warehouse space on inventory that’s slow to sell.
6. Product Listings
Compelling product listings are critical. Descriptions often lead users to find your store in the first place and then aid customers in the decision-making process.
But creating product listings goes beyond optimizing descriptions. You also need to upload professional images. A virtual assistant may be able to take photographs, edit pictures you already have, or resize images for different platforms. In addition, you can ask your VA to figure out the right price to maximize both profits and sales.
7. Graphic Design
You need graphics for a wide variety of purposes: marketing materials like infographics and social media posts, your website, and your logo. A virtual assistant with graphic design skills can improve your brand image.
Some products sell better when customers can view a video. In addition, videos are useful for increasing engagement on social media and keeping people on your website longer simply because users love videos.
How Can a Virtual Assistant Benefit Your Dropshipping Business
Dropshipping businesses, in particular, can benefit from e-commerce virtual assistants. In fact, you may even be able to find a dropshipping virtual assistant who specializes in this specific type of e-commerce business. By handing over administrative tasks to a VA, you’ll be free for more complex activities — like selecting the right product categories and forging relationships with suppliers.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay
How much you pay your e-commerce virtual assistant will depend on what tasks you need. It will also depend on whether you hire from within your country or offshore the work to a place where VAs charge less.
Typically, costs for an e-commerce virtual assistant range from $5 to more than $25 when you offshore and $25 to $75 when you hire from countries like the U.S. At the low end are tasks like inventory management, whereas services like web design and development are more expensive.
Questions to Ask When Hiring an E-Commerce Virtual Assistant
If you decide to hire a freelancer, you’ll need to run an interview. Asking the right questions will allow you to assess if a VA has the right skills as well as a passion for e-commerce. You can ask similar questions to assess the quality of virtual assistants at an agency.
What exactly you ask will depend on what skills you want from the virtual assistant, but these are some examples.
Do you have experience managing big data?
Virtual assistants need experience managing big data to handle all the information related to your e-commerce business. This is especially essential for creating and managing spreadsheets that are free from mistakes.
What languages do you speak and at what proficiency?
Your VA will need to speak English fluently if the job entails writing product descriptions. If you’re looking to expand into new markets, a high level of proficiency in other languages is also valuable.
How would you enhance my product listings?
A specific answer to this question will allow you to judge the VA’s knowledge of basic SEO and other aspects of product listing management.
What ERP software and other tools can you use?
Knowledge of ERP software is essential if your virtual assistant will be handling orders and inventory. It’s best if the VA has experience with the specific ERP software you want to use.
You should also find out what other software the VA knows how to use. Experience with a wide variety of software suggests the virtual assistant will easily learn to use another app or tool.
Why do you want to work in e-commerce?
The best VAs will have an interest in e-commerce. If you’re hiring through an agency, ask how they choose virtual assistants for e-commerce clients.
If you’ve been running an e-commerce business on your own up until now, you may find it difficult to let go and delegate tasks to someone else. However, you’ll soon discover that hiring a virtual assistant is a great decision. You’ll be able to drop routine tasks that are a waste of your time as well as activities that fall outside of your expertise. As a result, your business will be more professional and you’ll have the potential to grow.