The right time to outsource eCommerce operations is when you’re up and running. You’ve dedicated a couple of years to building your online startup. The business is bringing in a good amount of revenue and profits are decent. You’ve built it up on your own, and it’s a great achievement. The problem is that you are spending all your time running the business operations on your own. You have no time to spare and can’t do anything more than just getting things done.
What you need to be doing is concentrating on how you can take your business to the next level. This is the right time to outsource eCommerce operations. You know how everything works and what needs to be done at every step of the way. But you don’t need to be the one doing all of the tasks that make your business run smoothly. You can pass off many of these tasks to give you back the time that you need to refocus.
Below are a few things that you’re probably getting stuck on, needlessly. When you outsource eCommerce operations in these areas, your role can change back to what it should be.
Listings can’t just be uploaded and left alone. They have to be checked and tweaked and monitored. The task of managing 1 listing takes about 20 minutes per week. You need to download and analyze your reports. Keyword research needs to be reviewed and rechecked. The listings need to be updated for better search relevancy. They also need to be updated to comply with marketplace or search engine changes.
If you have 10 products, that’s nearly 3 hours every week that you are spending on these tasks. You know that you can’t let your listings slip, even though you’ve probably done it a few times because you just couldn’t get to it. Managing your listings helps you keep them optimized so you can get the best results. Otherwise, you’re leaving your growth up to chance, vulnerable to the ups and downs of algorithms. If you have your own website in addition to being on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, multiply those hours. Your analytics will be different on different platforms, so one set of tweaks will not be suitable for all.
Outsource eCommerce listing management to make sure that it gets done regularly. This is one great way to help your revenue grow as you are also freed up to work on building your business up more.
Providing Customer Service
Customer service is a very important and time-consuming set of tasks. The actual time that you have to spend dealing with customer issues varies widely. For 10 products, you could spend as little as 10 minutes a week or as much as a couple of hours. A lot of this depends on the quality of your products and your listing, which is something else that takes up your time.
You need to keep an eye on your ratings and find out what’s giving your customers trouble. Then you need to fix it. Monitoring these scores and reading feedback can take up another hour or two each week. Fixing the issues can take more time, depending on what needs to be done.
The really tricky part of customer service is being available for customers. People are buying from you at all hours of the day and night. You can’t be expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But that’s essentially what it takes to make sure they have the best possible experience. When something goes wrong, getting back to customers immediately is often what saves the day.
Taking care of your customers is definitely something that you can’t put off. Once you let a complaint slide, you will probably regret it for a long time. It only takes one complaint to mess up your ratings. It can also become a bad habit, which leads you on a downward spiral. Bad feedback and reviews can crash your business faster than anything else.
Dealing with complains can be very stressful, and this can tire you out when you are already up to your neck in work. Save your energy for what absolutely needs your attention. If there are any special customer issues that you need to handle personally, at least you will be fresh when you have to face them. This always ensures better results.
Outsource eCommerce customer service to a skilled representative. They know all the basics of dealing with customer complaints. All you have to do is get them up to speed on how you put your personal touch on communications.
Promotions only go out on special days, so it’s not a huge deal to get them prepared. In the larger scheme of things, it’s just a few hours here and there. Promoting products isn’t limited to these once-off deals that you give out on Prime Day, Black Friday or Christmas, however.
Promoting your products only goes well when you’re also promoting your brand and building a relationship with your target market. This easily takes a few hours each week, and that’s if you’re only reaching out on a couple of networks. Really paying attention and pushing your brand and products can be a full-time endeavor.
Your business needs to have a presence on social media. This is where everyone hangs out. It doesn’t mean that you can forget about SEO, but you need to spend some quality time with your customers and prospects. Popping up every once in a while with a flashing 20% off sign is not going to cut it.
People want to know who they’re dealing with. They aren’t going to buy from you just because you’re saying that you have a great deal for them. They want to know that it really is a good deal, and that takes trust, or at least a few good words from other customers. But if you don’t have a relationship with them, they aren’t going to stand up for you.
Outsource eCommerce promotions on social sites. Get someone who knows these networks and the people who hang out there. Learning how to do this yourself can take a lot of time and a lot of trial and error. You don’t want to have to spend your time on this when you could be focusing on what you already do well. A social media expert can save you a lot of time, money and headache and come back with lots of love for your brand and products. Then you can spend your time working on how to meet the demand that’s going to start building up – and of course, enjoying your success.
Maintaining and Upgrading Your Store
If you have your own website for your online business, you need to spend at least a few hours on that, too. Over and above the listing tweaks, there are maintenance tasks that need regular attention. Content is what really drives rankings, and you need to produce quality posts to become and remain competitive. If you’re talented at writing, then this shouldn’t be too difficult for you. It shouldn’t take you no more than an hour to put something together.
The thing is, posts that get attention have to be at least 1500 words. If you really want to rank and pull in more views, you need to be posting at least 3 times a week. So let’s say 1.5 to 2 hours per post times 3 – you’re looking at 5 or 6 hours every week just to write your content.
After writing the content, you need to add appropriate links to make it relevant in Google’s eyes and to promote your products and other content. Maybe you’ll have to tweak the content a bit to get those links in without looking spammy. That’s another hour right there, and more as you generate more content. Then there’s SEO – quality content needs to be supported by good keywords to get recognized by the search engines. If you know SEO, this is just another 2 hours a week to research and assign keywords to your post topics and optimize each post with these phrases.
Don’t forget the time that you’ll have to spend developing a content calendar and thinking up good topics. At first, you might be able to get away with just posting whatever randomly strikes you as an interesting topic. As time goes by, however, you’ll need structure to make it work. You want to make sure that you’re not boring your readers, and that you’re not confusing them with these random topics. The key is to guide them, lead them in a logical way. You also need to think about how to learn and answer their questions and pain points. They read because they want to know something. They won’t take the time if it doesn’t scream benefit to them.
So we’re up to about 10 hours a week – or more if you start running out of ideas or creativity. At this point, you’ll have a good amount of content that is getting hits. That means you will start getting comments. Most of these comments will be spam, which you’ll have to sort through to get to the real comments. Then you’ll need to respond to the real comments to take care of your relationships with your readers. Add another hour there, and more as things progress.
Don’t sweat it.
What if you’re not really good at or interested in writing? 12 hours is already a huge chunk of your week. You’ll be agonizing over your content if you’re not really into it. We haven’t even gotten to how you’re going to promote your content outside of your own website. And yes, this is a really important part of your visibility and your rankings.
Outsource eCommerce content writing and marketing to take that heavy load off your shoulders. You can hire a talented and experienced blog writer and content marketer to take care of all this in less time, and with greater efficiency. This is what they do. And then you can go and use your 15 hours each week to do what you do.
Time to Outsource eCommerce Operations
When you find yourself stretched too thin, jumping from one task to another just trying to stay caught up, it’s time to outsource eCommerce operations. You can’t be as effective as you need to be to carry your business forward if you wake up harassed – if you’ve slept at all – and feel like you’re running around like a chicken without a head.
Your business needs you to be at full capacity. Take a supervisory role and outsource eCommerce operations so you can free up your time for more important tasks that you can now actually concentrate on.
Start with one area that you can hire one freelancer for. Onboard them in the way that you want the task to be handled. Work with them until they’ve got it down. Then you can move to another task, and so on. Integrate each worker so that they operate in harmony. As you outsource eCommerce operations in stages, you will build a group of workers that operates both independently and in sync with you, each other, and your business goals.
Over to You
What tasks are giving you a headache? Make a list of these tasks and any other sub-tasks that fall under them. This will help you define the role and associated tasks when you decide to hire some help.
What aptitudes do you consistently apply to complete these tasks to your standard? Do you lack any talents or skills to do them as you would like? List these qualities and put them in order of importance. This will help you find the right remote worker to take them over for you.
If this was helpful, please share the article on social media – I’m sure you can think of at least a couple of friends who could benefit from some help in these areas!
Julia Valdez is a professional teacher and long-time lover of the art of words on paper and the stage. She spends most of her time doing freelance content writing and management, community volunteer work with the Philippine Advocates for Resilient Communities, adventuring with the Greenhouse Christian Fellowship, and sharing lots of laughs over little crazy things.