How to hire an ecommerce virtual assistant & scale your store
Whether you run a store on a marketplace like Amazon or have built your own eCommerce store on Shopify or any similar eCommerce platform, there’s an ecommerce virtual assistant for almost anything you can think of to outsource.
As you scale and target 6 figures and beyond, hiring the right ecommerce virtual assistants for key tasks within your eCommerce business becomes a critical part of expansion.
Getting a key eCommerce virtual assistant in place to take care of each area of your business is a great way to scale.
It not only automates certain areas of your business, but it frees up your time to focus more on growth.
There are many sites out there where you can find eCommerce virtual assistants and eCommerce freelancers as you scale your business. FreeeUp is a marketplace that specializes specifically for eCommerce remote talent while there are also other larger platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Check G2’s reviews of eCommerce platforms.
Today, we’re sharing a step-by-step guide on how you can tap into eCommerce virtual assistants while you’re scaling your eCommerce business.
Step 1. Identify Tasks and Who You Need to Handle Them
Carve out a good chunk of time without distractions and sit down to brainstorm the areas in your eCommerce business that could be passed off to someone else.
Task Tip: You can’t get ahead of yourself in this process if you want it to work. Solid preparation on your part is essential to preventing future hitches. Take the time and make the effort now to line everything up so you can focus on what’s important in each step. This will prevent a lot of wasted resources at later stages in the hiring process.
The tasks that you write down may be small projects that tie into other needs, or bigger ones that stand alone as major determinants for the future of your business.
You may want to pass them off to an ecommerce virtual assistant because they take up a lot of time, because they require greater experience, or simply because you don’t enjoy doing them. Write them all down.
Look at your list and prioritize any tasks that are important, but are not getting done, or that prevent you from getting your CEO and growth tasks done. These are the ones you’ll want to outsource first because they are what’s holding your eCommerce business back and consuming too much of your time.
Below are a few of the most common eCommerce tasks for Amazon and Shopify businesses to help get your lists started, the ecommerce virtual assistant to handle each one, and what you can expect to pay per hour (although you can also get fixed-price quotes from many freelancers).
Note that the rates can vary widely — this is due to different locations and how freelancers set their rates based off their experience and location.
VA Tip: You can find one person who can do more than one sub-task, or you may prefer to hire people who focus on one area alone. Remember, with freelancers, you hire as needed, so you need not be concerned with filling up one person’s hours. Freelance ecommerce virtual assistants are used to working just 1 or 2 hours for one client or doing one-off projects.
1) Store Design & Development – $9-$25+ international, $25-$75 US
Designer – creates logos, product images, designs your online store, and handles all design-related projects.
Developer – builds your entire store from the ground up on Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, or a similar eCommerce store builder. If selling on Amazon, helps set up your storefront on the marketplace.
2) Product Sourcing & Management – $5-$25+ international, $25-$75 US
Sourcer – researches profitable product niches and potential winning products for your eCommerce business.
Negotiator – locates and inquires with potential suppliers for the products that you want to add into your inventory.
Inspector – periodically inspects supplier warehouses to ensure product quality is maintained.
3) Product Listing – $6-$15 international, $25-$50 US
Photographer – produces high-quality product images. Knows how to abide by marketplace image rules like those from Amazon or eBay.
Optimizer – researches keywords for best visibility on Google, Amazon, and other search engines.
Copywriter – creates product titles, product descriptions, bullet points, and usage information that lead to higher converting product pages.
Lister – uploads listing content, troubleshoots errors, and updates information on the product listing as needed.
4) Inventory and Order Management – $5-$15 international, $25-$50 US
Inventory Analyst – monitors inventory to maintain optimum levels through Shopify or Amazon’s inventory management system.
Purchaser – maintains communication with suppliers and manages purchase orders to ensure inventory levels don’t run out.
Order Manager – takes and monitors orders placed to ensure efficient fulfillment with supplier partners or fulfillment centers.
Customer Service – monitors customer messages and phone calls to ensure fast response times. Handles returns, exchanges, refunds, cancellations, emails, phone calls, and live chat.
Feedback / Review Manager – optimizes processes to encourage positive ratings and deals with negative ratings to mitigate the impact.
VA Tip: When you’re ready to start looking for an eCommerce assistant, don’t just copy what’s on this page and paste that into a request. It’s important to clearly define each task that you need to be done to the specifics of your eCommerce business. Lots of freelancers can do the above tasks, but if you want them done the right way for your needs, you want to be as specific as possible so you make sure you get exactly who you need.
Write down the specific hard and soft skills, level of experience, working hours, tools needed, performance metrics, and any other work requirements or personal traits that you want the candidate to have.
This gives a potential hire clear direction so that they know exactly what you need to be done, when you need it done, and how you want it done. Then they will know if it’s a good fit; i.e. if they can efficiently execute the tasks within those requirements.
Step 2. Interview and Hire
Once you’ve attracted a suitable candidate (or as many as you want to look at), it’s time to schedule an interview.
This is your chance to learn anything you want to about the person that you weren’t able to form their freelancer profiles.
Prepare for interviews by going over your task description and expectations so you can easily spot red flags about skills and experience in a freelancer’s responses.
Interview Tip: If you decide to use the FreeeUp marketplace, you get sent just one match by default so you don’t have to bother with a ton of applications. You can, however, request to meet a few at a time if you want to do some comparisons. Since all the freelancers on FreeeUp are pre-vetted, you’ll typically only need about 15 minutes to get things clarified and make your choice.
If you need more to go on than just the interview before making a hire, consider paying for a test project.
Give each eCommerce virtual assistant a short task or two to complete so you can see their actual performance and see what the experience is like working with each candidate.
Note that it’s considered bad form to ask for project specifics or a trial for free.
By doing a test project, you can learn more about how the freelancer works, see their level of expertise and give feedback so that if you hire them for more work, you both are on the same page.
Billing Tip: If you’re worried about overbilling on a probationary candidate, with most marketplaces, you can simply set a limit on their billable hours to control spending. If you have any questions about using such functions, simply contact the marketplace’s customer support team.
Step 3. Set Clear Expectations
Apart from the task-specific details, each ecommerce virtual assistant you hire needs to know what your specific expectations are for the work. This helps them to understand how best to work in your business, and if they can do it at a high level. You must, therefore, set clear expectations before you make a hire. It’s a critical part of hiring that many eCommerce entrepreneurs overlook.
Set up a meeting immediately after hiring someone. Talk about your business goals, the way you work and communicate, and the way you like to run things. Don’t forget to mention your pet peeves or other personal preferences.
Next, ask the candidate what they expect from you as well, and how they work, so you’re on the same page. Both you and the freelancer will use this to gauge whether or not you will work well together.
The entire relationship will very much depend on how you set up communication. It’s best practice to set up standards for daily 1 on 1 communication, weekly meetings, and quarterly reviews. Having these in place upfront can avoid many communication issues down the line.
VA Tip: A good working relationship is never one-sided, and with freelancers being business owners themselves, you are working with professionals who appreciate a certain level of respect. You’ll avoid costly errors like high turnover if you maintain the balance of give and take and you include them in the business by sharing company goals and introducing them to other team members.
Hiring with FreeeUp
As you begin the online hiring process to scale your eCommerce business, take FreeeUp into consideration when looking at freelance marketplaces.
The FreeeUp Marketplace was founded and is run by two former eCommerce entrepreneurs that sold over $25 million worth of product through their own eCommerce store on Amazon.
They started FreeeUp after years of frustration hiring for eCommerce talent from other hiring marketplaces and today continue to offer their time to speak with new clients.
A key part to scaling your business to the 6, 7, and 8 figures in sales is remembering that you have to hire other smart people to support your growth initiatives for the company.
To scale to that size, you need a team that you can rely on for all of the operations and growth objectives.
Hiring basic level, international eCommerce virtual assistants to handle the operations of your eCommerce business can be an affordable and effective solution.
Bringing in experts as needed for more advanced marketing and advertising tactics is also a smart strategy to make sure that you’re doing things at a high level across all channels of your business.
You don’t have to pay for 40 hours of work per week just to keep an ecommerce virtual assistant or expert happy either.
Hire the ones that you need, whether that means 5 or 25 hours per week, for only as many hours or days you need to get the work done.
You’ll have no overhead and no benefits to worry about, and you can hire from overseas, so you can take on even more people as your needs grow.
Have any specific questions about hiring to scale your eCommerce business? Comment below and we’ll personally respond.