What Is a Virtual Assistant and Do You Need One?

what is a virtual assistant

It doesn’t matter if you’re an ecommerce veteran, or if you’re just getting started with your first store, it can be difficult to manage an ecommerce business on your own. There are plenty of tasks which you may need to take care of, like customer complaints, or bookkeeping, which take up valuable time that could be spent growing your business, and trying to make more sales. Extra manpower will help to alleviate the stress of these daily tasks, but an in-house colleague could be out of your price range. This is where virtual assistants come in.

You may be asking yourself: ‘what is a virtual assistant?’ They’re the perfect resource for entrepreneurs who are looking for an affordable way to outsource help with running their business. We’ve created this article to give you a full overview of what a virtual assistant is, how they can help you run your ecommerce business, and where you can find your own virtual assistant.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

what is a virtual assistantBuiA virtual assistant is a skilled professional who can work remotely to help you run your online store. A virtual assistant can work independently on a wide range of tasks, like competitor or product research, customer service requests, and other financial tasks. As long as you provide your virtual assistant with an outline for success, they’ll be there to help you reach your business goals.

It doesn’t matter if you’re running your business on a shoestring, or you’re already generating thousands of revenue every month, a virtual assistant is an affordable resource which you can use.

What Can a Virtual Assistant Help With?

When you’re running your online store it’s critical that you can focus on the necessary tasks which will help you to grow your business, and that your time isn’t stretched thinly throughout the day. This sentiment is especially true if you’re running your ecommerce business part-time, as you’ll already have less time to deal with everything.

Entrepreneurs use virtual assistants to divide their workload, and focus on the more important aspects of running a business. You may be wondering about the types of tasks which your virtual assistant will be able to help you with. We’ve broken down the most prominent fields of work which virtual assistants can help you with whilst you’re running your ecommerce business.

Ecommerce Business Accounting

what is a virtual assistant

When you’re running an ecommerce business it’s essential that you keep a record of all business transactions, including money that you send and receive. This includes bills for services like Shopify, and the amount of money that you’ve spent on other administrative tasks, like registering your business. This can be a laborious task, and one which you don’t have the time to fully commit to, which makes it the perfect task for your virtual assistant.

You’ll likely need to hand over some information about your business to allow your virtual assistant to take care of your store’s account, like certain passwords, or access to specific accounts. This is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that you’ll have when you know that the financial side of your business is already taken care of.

It’s critical that you maintain up-to-date financial records for your ecommerce business, so you can pay the appropriate amount of tax, and ultimately avoid any legal issues. If you feel like you need assistance with your accounting then we’d recommend a virtual assistant to help you on your ecommerce journey. 

Online Product and Competitor Research

Ecommerce can be a competitive field to break into, and one way that you can set yourself aside from the crowd is by sourcing high-quality products at an affordable price point. You’ll need to take the time to research products that your audience are interested in, and then try to find a reliable supplier who can provide you with said product.

Online research is a great task for your virtual assistant, as they can work independently on this and then report back to you with an in-depth review of the best products and suppliers for your niche. Simply outline what you’re looking to gain, and they’ll be able to provide it for you.

You can also request that your virtual assistant performs some competitor research for your ecommerce business. They’ll be able to review other successful online stores that are similar to yours, and provide you with some insights into why they might be successful, which will ultimately help your store in the long term.

Managing Customer Service Queries

One aspect of running a successful ecommerce business is providing great customer service. When customers can see that you’ve gone out of your way to make their shopping experience with you great, they’ll be much more likely to make a repeat order. If you can attract multiple repeat customers this will be great for your business, as it costs a lot more to acquire new customers than it does to retain your existing ones.

It may be possible for you to provide exceptional customer service by yourself when you’re just starting out with your ecommerce business, but as your store grows you’ll find that you have less and less time to manage customer queries. This is where a virtual assistant can help — they’ll be happy to help you manage your store’s customer service queries, so you can focus on other aspects of your business. They’ll be able to take care of anything from returns to fraudulent orders.

Using a virtual assistant to help out with customer service is a great investment for your ecommerce business. You’ll save tons of time without dropping the quality of your customer service, and the personal feel to your business that your customers will love.

Managing Your Store’s Inventory

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When you’re running an ecommerce business it’s essential that you properly manage your store’s inventory. If you receive an order from a customer for a product that is out of stock you’ll need to inform them that you can’t fulfill their order — this means that the customer will likely be discouraged, and it’s likely that you’ll lost a potential sale.

A virtual assistant can help you with managing your store’s inventory, however, if you’re running your business with a dropshipping model then you’ll never have this worry. When you’re running your business with dropshipping you’ll get in contact with your supplier whenever you receive an order, who will then ship the products directly to your customer’s door. You’ll never need to worry about managing an inventory again. You can use Oberlo to start dropshipping today, it’s simple to set up!

How to Find a Virtual Assistant

We’ve now covered some of the various benefits that a virtual assistant can bring to your ecommerce business. If you’re looking to source a virtual assistant to help you run your own business there are a variety of different resources that you can use.

Here are a few:

  • Upwork – One of the world’s leading freelance websites.You’ll find a great variety of virtual assistants here who are specialized in various different fields.
  • Fiverr – A platform which entrepreneurs can use to oursource affordable freelance work. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant whilst you’re running your store on a shoestring budget, this is the place for you.
  • Zirtual – Zirtual is a dedicated virtual assistant platform. With Zirtual you’ll gain access to an extensive library of virtual assistants, who are ready and willing to help you grow your business.
  • Ultimate Guide To Hire a Virtual Assistant – A great resource on hiring a virtual assistance put together by Freeeup.

Most virtual assistants will command an hourly rate for their work — it’s likely that they’ll be up front with the amount that they charge per hour. This means that you’ll need to assign them a given number of hours to dedicate to your ecommerce business every week. If you’re unsure of the length of time that it’ll take for them to complete the necessary tasks, you can just ask them to track the amount of time that it takes to complete a process, with software like Toggl.

Another important thing to bare in mind when you’re searching for a virtual assistant for your online store, is their field of expertise. If you already have a specific purpose for a virtual assistant in mind, like customer service, then select one which has prior experience dealing with these issues. This will help to create a healthy working relationship between both you and the virtual assistant.

Do You Need a Virtual Assistant?

what is a virtual assistant

We’ve now covered everything that you need to know about virtual assistants, it’s time to decide if your ecommerce business needs to hire one. There are a lot of different benefits which an entrepreneur can gain from hiring a virtual assistant, but if you have no issues handling your workload then you may not need a virtual assistant. Take some time to think about what your current issues are, and if they will be resolved with the help of another colleague – this will really help your decision.

Want to learn more?

If you have any further questions about virtual assistants, or ecommerce in general, let us know in the comments section. We’re happy to help you grow as an ecommerce entrepreneur!

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