Many eCommerce business owners would agree — it’s hard to find the right employee to help your business grow. Perhaps your local talent pool is limited, or you’re in need of specialized skills. 

Have you ever considered looking further afield? 

In a world where many work from home, finding the right assistant is easier than ever, thanks to the global market of eCommerce virtual assistants. 

Virtual assistants are growing in popularity as they can provide a variety of support services, all while working remotely, removing the cost of additional office space. 

virtual assistant market growth

[Source: PR Newswire]

There are reasonable anxieties involved in trusting an external assistant. However, there comes a point in the growth of your business where going solo simply isn’t sustainable anymore. There’s a serious risk of falling behind in several areas of your business. This compromises time that would have previously been reserved for your personal life. 

Eventually, something will have to give, either your business’ standards or, potentially, your own personal health and well-being. The sensible solution is to accept this and look into hiring an eCommerce virtual assistant. 

In this post, we will highlight everything you need to know about eCommerce virtual assistants. 

Let’s jump in.

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What Is a Virtual Assistant?

An eCommerce virtual assistant is someone who specializes in the various tasks necessary to run an effective and profitable online business. While these tasks have to be accomplished, they can take vital time and attention away from other, potentially more lucrative, areas of your business. 

It would be terrible to miss out on new opportunities for growth. Or worse, not look after your customer base properly, resulting in them taking their business to one of your competitors! 

Fortunately, this is entirely avoidable. By outsourcing the distracting admin of your business to an eCommerce virtual assistant, you can focus on the big-picture planning that will grow your online business.

Beyond admin, virtual assistants can provide external infrastructure, reducing your business overheads. One easy and convenient way to do this is via a business-hosted VoIP. This digital service allows you to make phone calls online — no need for expensive and clunky analog hardware — and is perfect for flexible hybrid working.

Now that we understand what an eCommerce virtual assistant is, let’s explore what exactly an eCommerce virtual assistant does. 

What an eCommerce Virtual Assistant Can Do for You and Your Business

Virtual assistants can be used to fulfill a variety of tasks, depending on your business needs. The benefits of accessing skilled, independent workers can be seen in many core areas of eCommerce trading. 

1. Tracking Orders 

Whatever goods you stock, it’s essential to know where your product is and when deliveries are scheduled. You can easily find out what products are overstocked, analyze sales, and constantly adapt to consumer demand. If your store is growing, this is one of the distracting yet essential tasks you can delegate to your eCommerce virtual assistant. 

2. Managing Exchanges and Returns

Keeping track of inventory is a must in an eCommerce business. However, that’s potentially not where the issues with stock end for you. 

Customers often want to exchange items that don’t quite fit their needs. For example, everyone has bought a pair of pants that’s just a bit too tight or a bit too short. 

For more serious issues, your customer might want to return your product and be refunded entirely. Your eCommerce virtual assistant can handle this process on your behalf as one facet of customer care. 

3. Handling Customer Care

Speaking of customer care, a busy store has a lot of customer service responsibilities. Customers expect clear communication and a prompt resolution. Where this becomes challenging is when your business begins to scale up and you can no longer keep up with the competing priorities of your business.  

A virtual assistant can pick up the slack, acting as your brand’s ambassador. 

For example, Secret Spa found that by using virtual assistants they could ensure they were able to maintain great service and response times throughout busy periods. They can reply to customer inquiries promptly and professionally, as well as help to extend support and allow you to cover more hours.

4. Maintaining Your Online Storefront 

Your eCommerce storefront is the face of your business, equivalent to the shop window of a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Your customers expect the face of your business to be neat, tidy, and up-to-date. 

Your eCommerce virtual assistant can ensure that your storefront remains up-to-date with accurate representations of your current products and services. They can add your new products, refresh or update product descriptions, or help optimize them for SEO and assist with the shipping and delivery process. Remember, your online storefront is a reflection of your business and the first thing consumers may see when forming an impression of your business. 

5. Market Research and Marketing Outreach 

In order to expand your business and attract new customers, you need to understand your customer base. You also need to understand your competitors in the industry. 

You can task your eCommerce virtual assistant with gathering information about your customers, competitors, and wider industry trends. They can also: 

  • Make effective marketing easy, with bespoke email newsletter templates which will re-engage your customer base 
  • Cater to your essential communication needs, from product recommendations to order confirmations 

These are just a couple of examples of the tasks you can allocate your eCommerce virtual assistant. The specifics and the scope are yours to decide.

Now we’ve examined a few examples of the duties you can assign an eCommerce virtual assistant, what are some of the benefits of hiring one? 

The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

It’s worth addressing why you should specifically hire an eCommerce virtual assistant rather than any other virtual assistant available

eCommerce virtual assistants are specialists in supporting online businesses. There are very specific requirements for running an online store and with an eCommerce virtual assistant working with you, you won’t have to sweat the basics. 

1. Time Savings

Delegating day-to-day administrative duties frees up your valuable time. As your online business grows, the workload your business generates will be too much for you to handle on your own. Having someone to handle your business admin means you’ll have more time to devote to other areas. 

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Reluctance to take on extra expenses is understandable, especially in a competitive retail environment. However, an eCommerce virtual assistant represents great value for money and compares highly favorably to a full-time employee. You can hire eCommerce virtual assistants to complete specific tasks, saving you the resources of employing and retaining employees full-time. 

3. Less Risk

By outsourcing the labor, you are also outsourcing the risk. You are outsourcing risk in the sense that you are taking items out of your personal tray and putting them on the virtual assistant’s plate. That helps with reducing burnout and human error.

For example, the CEO of People Building, Inc., found that having a virtual assistant meant that they were able to structure their day rather than feeling like they were “putting out fires” all day, bouncing from one to the next without a plan. 

There is also less risk of having long-term obligations to an employee. If you are unsatisfied with your virtual assistant, you can simply cancel the contract and hire another. 

This flexibility allows you to cherry-pick the assistants you need, as and when you need them. Being able to select the experts means no more ad hoc delegation to your general staff, ensuring the quality of service. 

4. Financial Savings

No matter the financial state of your business, you should always be looking for efficiency savings. 

Scaling up is one of the most challenging times for your business. Rapid and unsustainable scale-ups are one of the main causes of business failure. Any savings you can make in one area of your business can be reinvested or improve profit margins. eCommerce virtual assistants can save you a significant percentage of your costs when compared to a traditional employee. 

Utilizing just a single virtual assistant can save a business a significant sum of money. For a modest eCommerce storefront with aspirations of upscaling, this is money that you can utilize in other areas of your business. 

And with freelance assistants, you save on other costs involved in having full-time staff. This includes insurance, training, office overheads, and employee benefits. 

5. Increased Productivity 

A business owner is always looking for ways to improve output. That improved efficiency can lead to increased sales, more eyes on your products, and more time for long-term strategizing.

Logically, you will want the most productive hiring solutions for your online store. This is what makes an eCommerce virtual assistant so appealing — they are 43% more productive than a full-time member of staff.

This should come as no surprise; eCommerce virtual assistants are seasoned industry professionals with specialized competencies. Now that we know what an eCommerce virtual assistant does and the benefits of hiring one, where do we find them? 

Where To Find a Virtual Assistant?

1. Freelance Marketplaces

A freelance marketplace, such as Upwork shown below, is a quick and simple way to find an eCommerce virtual assistant. You’re spoiled for choice.

upwork freelance site for virtual assistant

[Source: Upwork]

The only obstacle is verifying the quality of your prospective virtual assistant. The solution to this is due diligence. Many assistants will have reviews from previous employers available, as well as portfolios of proven work. It’s worth checking these marketplace profiles carefully to make sure they’re the right fit. 

2. Via an Agency

The other way of finding an eCommerce virtual assistant is by contacting an agency. An agency will have personnel with years of industry knowledge and expertise in the field. You can also expect a wide range of extra products and services available — for example, customer service, data entry, and product research. 

How to Stay in Touch with Your eCommerce Virtual Assistant

Traditionally, you might stay in touch with your assistants via telephone or email. However, there is a modern way to keep in touch with your eCommerce virtual assistant with a lot of upsides. 

Hosted VoIP

VoIP is digital technology that enables you to make phone calls over the internet. Hosted VoIP services have the added benefit of maintaining all their servers and hardware in external data centers, which means you don’t have to keep the infrastructure on-site. 

Via VoIP’s desktop, or mobile apps such as Dialpad, you can make quick and convenient calls on any computer or mobile device. Besides the benefit of off-site infrastructure, VoIP provides reliable service to maintain communication with your eCommerce virtual assistant externally to satisfy your business needs. 

Wrap Up 

So now you know what an eCommerce virtual assistant is, what they do, and how they can help your business. You also know where to find one and how to stay in touch.

As an experienced seller looking to grow your business, you can utilize an eCommerce virtual assistant to complete day-to-day business tasks, freeing you up to focus on strategy. 

This extra time you can devote to the big picture will help you take your eCommerce business to the next level! 

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Austin Guanzon

Austin Guanzon is the Tier 1 Support Manager for Dialpad, the leading AI-powered customer intelligence platform with features such as auto attendant with Dialpad. He is a customer retention and technical support expert, with experience at some of the largest tech service companies in the US. Austin is also the co-founder of the California-based Infinity Martial Arts and has served as an instructor in the sport.



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