A virtual assistant can be an incredible asset to your business, no matter what your role or level of responsibilities within your organization. Managing and handling an e-commerce store requires a great deal of work and a set up virtual assistant can be an ideal solution to handling low-skill routine tasks that eat into your time. More importantly, a VA can handle routine tasks that you can’t automate, allowing you to spend your time doing things that add value to your business.
However, while it’s easy to hire a VA, not just any VA will do. It’s important to consider that a virtual assistant has to handle a range of relatively technical tasks with a high degree of accuracy and competency. To achieve that, he or she will need a certain skill set and mindset to perform well in the job role. While it is important to consider that the exact required skills will vary significantly depending on your industry, the technology you use and the final role of the VA, the following skills are essential for most.
Product Listing – Adding new inventory, updating existing listings, and correcting mistakes are all tasks that a VA can perform. While it is crucial that you be able to trust an assistant to update and monitor content that will go live on your site, this type of routine task is ideal for an e-commerce operations VA to perform. However, the skills required for updating and monitoring listings greatly vary depending on the platform. If your store is multichannel, listings are also more complex, because they will change based on the channel. For this reason, you should plan to hire a VA with basic listing experience and then onboard them to work with templates and formats for all of your channels.
ERP Navigation – It is likely that a VA will have to work inside of your ERP software for most of your e-commerce related tasks including order updates, shipping management, and customer service. However, because there are many different types of ERP programs, it is unlikely that you will find a great deal of suitable assistants with experience using your own ERP. For that reason, you are better off planning to onboard a VA in your preferred ERP solution.
Product Research – A VA can handle most of the non-technical details related to product research. These include inventory organization, customer research and analysis, keyword research, buyer profile research, and competitor research and analysis. Even if you are using an ERP like Skubana that shows your own data, you still need someone who can check to see what your competitors are doing, keep track of your own buyer data, and hand it to you or to someone else who knows what to do with the data. You can give the VA a template and a list of expectations for research and allow them to handle almost all of the data collection you need.
Category Management – Category management is a crucial part of inventory management and can make or break an e-commerce store. A VA can learn your category management methods and then take over the routine tasks including competitor analysis, consumer and sales analysis, keyword optimization and SEO, price tracking, adding products, and other details. Here research and organization skills are more important than experience with actual category management, because it is easy to move from general research to category and product research.
Process Documentation – A VA should be able to work with your existing processes, as well as to create and identify their own. For example, the ability to identify a workflow and optimize it to ensure that they are making the most with their time and yours is incredibly valuable. Process documentation also ensures that you have existing records of what is happening and why so that if it doesn’t work out with the existing VA, you can quickly onboard a new one in the same processes.
Inventory Management – General inventory management, including the ability to monitor stock, update your website with stock, keep track of pipeline and order times, and recommend new orders can all handled by a profficient e-commerce operations VA. To achieve this, a VA should understand your pipeline and order times, should understand your ERP and how to use it to analyze data, and know how and when to recommend placing new orders when stock gets low.
Order and Shipment Processing – While you can and should automate many fulfilment tasks using an ERP like Skubana, the VA should be able to step in to perform non-manual tasks including interfacing with your fulfillment company, handling returns and product exchanges, updating orders with order tracking, and handling manual processing for your orders. Skubana is a full service ERP and multi-channel inventory management program offering direct integration into most major e-commerce channels, shopping cart to fulfillment automation, and data analysis. The VA can use it to track your orders up to the fulfilment process, where they can be quickly handed off to you third party logistics or own logistics solution.
Depending on your e-commerce store, you might need an operations VA to handle a lot of different types of tasks, so it is important to hire for your specific needs. For example, if you don’t have a lot of sales people set up, you might need them to help with promotions, price discounts, coupons, etc. If you don’t have a lot of customer service workers, you might need a VA who is proficient at customer service and handling returns, and so on.
In most cases, if you are putting a VA in charge of updating your listings, managing your products, and otherwise taking an active role in the administration of your e-commerce site, his or her ability to provide fast, accurate work is more important than their skills. It is easy and cost effective to onboard a motivated person who will provide quality work but much more expensive to constantly monitor and micro manage someone who has the right skills but no motivation.
Hiring the right VA can help you to save time, improve your internal processes, and ensure that your time is freed up to pursue tasks that add value to your business.
This guest post was contributed by the Skubana team. Skubana is an all-in-one ERP system that seamlessly integrates with most e-commerce marketplaces, 3PLs, warehouses, provides state-of-the-art profitability and multi-channel inventory management. Skubana compiles all of your marketplaces on a single page to intuitively control and understand your entire business. Try Skubana free for 14 days, or feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
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