E-commerce is a complex business. Not that it requires any special qualification or knowledge to manage it, however there are different aspects to it which need to be looked into and managed simultaneously.
Website maintenance, shopping cart management, product listing, inventory management, customer service, returns & exchanges etc entail a lot of work.
Now I know you’re all this is too much for an ecommerce business owner to manage it all by himself or his in-house team. An e-commerce virtual assistant is the answer. E-commerce Virtual assistants are individuals who have the requisite skill and experience to carry out the tasks.
Most e-commerce virtual assistants have prior experience handling e-commerce businesses and therefore are well aware of the techniques to get the job done smoothly and effectively. They are assets to the business and prove to be really cost-effective as opposed to hiring a full-time employee.
An e-commerce assistant takes things off your plate and allows you time to do things that you should be doing as a business owner or CEO. Therefore it’s a good bet to outsource e-commerce operations to e-commerce virtual assistants.
However you cannot just go for any e-commerce assistant, it depends on the functions that you wish to outsource. Consider carefully the tasks that you are planning to outsource and then decide judiciously. Compiled below are some of the skills you must look for when hiring e-commerce virtual assistants so that you too can accelerate your business with their help.
CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS – This is a very essential skill that you should look for in a VA if you are looking to outsource customer service functions after all, it is of utmost importance to keep your customers happy.
An e-commerce VA who has prior experience in customer service will be able to effectively filter out queries, complaints and feedbacks and deal with each one. He will be able to handle irate and dissatisfied customers who are unhappy with their experience and come up with an amicable solution.
DATA ENTRY SKILLS – Another important task which does not require any particular education skill or qualification but experience does help.
There is a huge amount of data to be entered in e-commerce. Listing different products on the website and on different e-commerce marketplaces with correct specifications, prices etc. Uploading different images with proper editing etc all require sufficient amount of time which e-commerce business owners simply don’t have to spare.
What’s more it requires high level of accuracy and diligence to do the task. No wonder it ranks high in the list of outsourced tasks. Generally all e-commerce assistants have experience in entering large volumes of data. They are capable of both entering data manually as well as in bulk using the software.
The CRM or ERP you are using may be able to reveal data about your own operations, product, performance etc but in order to grow and excel in the industry you need to know what your competitors are doing, consumer research, surveys etc. This will give you a lot of insights about your future growth plans and strategies.
A perfect e-Commerce VA should be proficient in sourcing information and data from the internet or be able to spy on competition using certain software. He or she should also be adept at analyzing volumes of data, interpreting data etc and then make a report out of it for you to go through and gather information about your areas, of improvements, your weaknesses and future opportunities.
INVENTORY MANAGEMENT – Inventory management encompasses complete supply chain management in an e-commerce company. Keeping track of stocks, updating the website with correct stock levels, maintaining order pipeline and coordinating the same with warehouse for fulfillment of orders requires both experience of sales operations as well as knowledge of inventory management concepts and supply chain.
An ideal e-commerce VA should be an expert at monitoring things and also possess effective coordination so as to fulfill orders. In case you are using any tool or software, the VA should be adept at using it. He should be able to analyze data to know when to place orders with the vendors when the stock gets low.
He or she should apply due diligence as lack of inventory can result in orders getting delayed or eventually cancelled which can impact sales, alternatively too much inventory can result in blockage of funds which could have been used up in other areas.
E-COMMERCE SEO – Knowledge of SEO is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind when hiring a VA for your e-commerce operations. As an e-commerce store owner, product data entry and product listing is probably one of the first tasks you would think of outsourcing.
Optimizing your listing is important in order to rank for your user’s searches. The more effective your listings are, the higher will be your rank and visibility which would eventually translate into sales. Product listing requires entering product details correctly and accurately, researching keywords to be incorporated into product titles and descriptions, writing attractive descriptions so as to capture the buyer’s attention etc.
Use of proper images with appropriate tags is also an essential component of product listing you cannot ignore. A skilled VA should know the use of keywords, should be able to use available software for keyword research and SEO which will help him make the necessary modifications time to time to affect the rankings.
USE OF AUTOMATION TOOLS AND SOFTWARE – Finally an efficient e-Commerce VA should at least have the knowledge (experience of using it will obviously be an added advantage!) of various automation tools and software that are available for e-commerce businesses.
These tools help streamline the process and help you complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Below are some of the commonly used tools and software by e-commerce businesses all over:-
- Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce – All of these are e-commerce management systems and platforms used to build e-commerce websites. This platform come with custom integrations and features that aid in the seamless operations of your e-commerce businesses. For instance, easy shopping cart integrations and payment gateway etc.
- Ecomdash – Multi-channel order and inventory management software that lets you manage product levels across warehouses, real-time inventory updates, automatic order syncing and tracking details.
- Consistent Cart – Tool for automating abandoned cart recovery, push notifications and add to cart pop-ups etc.
- Inventory Source – Drop-ship automation software to help you manage inventory and shipments directly from vendor’s warehouse.
- Zen Desk – For customer service, live chat systems and help desk interface.
To conclude, all the skills mentioned above pertain to specific areas of expertise and therefore it may not be possible for a single VA to possess all the above-mentioned skills. It entirely depends on your requirement and the task you are planning to outsource. For instance if you are planning to outsource data entry task, it is important for you to look for someone with data entry skills and experience rather than an SEO expert. It is very important for you to hire the right person for the right task so as to reap all the benefits of outsourcing.