Outsourcing key components of a business is a smart growth plan for entrepreneurs no matter what the industry.
Ecommerce businesses in particular are on board with using third parties including software as a service SAAS to help manage many aspects of their business.
For startup businesses it’s not uncommon to wear many too hats so to speak. You’re the CEO, bookkeeper, customer support, marketing guru, salesperson, website admin, to name a few so it’s understandable you’re pulled every which way and struggle to devote adequate time to any one task. Continuing down this rabbit hole will eventually be the downfall of the business so something has to give.
Outsourcing and using software where it makes sense is the right plan. Check out the seven online store tasks that could be effectively managed external to the business or by using a SAAS.
Every business owner worries about keeping the lights on today and tomorrow. Unfortunately, that focus can become time-consuming and override other important considerations for an ecommerce business. Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant to watch your overall financials frees you up to look at other metrics such as which products give you the best return.
Accountants might also help you get a full understanding of your staff, warehouse, shipping, or other costs. Knowing the total cost of these elements might help you look for a partner or process that better works with your budget. You can see where to trim or what might benefit from the investment.
Knowledge also makes it easier to negotiate when you start looking at outsourcing in any of the areas we’ll discuss. Understanding cost is useful for setting guidelines for what you need to save or when you’re spending too much time.
Unless you’re a stellar designer with a ton of time on your hands, this might be the essential element to start outsourcing for business development. A top-notch designer can build you a logo and color palette that represents your company and influences how you want to be seen. Colors help to set your personality.
Research shows that people will often make up their mind about a product within seconds and up to 90% of that assessment and purchase decision can rely on the colors they see.
The same eye for color should be applied to the images you use for products as well as the layout of your sales pages. A strong designer knows how to effectively use whitespace and prioritize relevant information, while still giving you room to have social proof, reviews, star-ratings, and more.
Who hasn’t heard “content is king” in the past week? It feels a bit tired, but it’s still true, so it’s time to take that to heart.
Site visitors can be excited by or turned off by what’s on the page and the other information you provide on your site. Plus, they’re searching for things like the products you offer. Words give you a chance to make your best case, and overall content marketing helps you reach people who could be prime buyers. Most ecommerce brands have a blog to help reach those customers.
One reason to consider outsourcing this is that it’s just plain hard to come up with ideas regularly and write them all down. Content marketing gives you a chance to reach people without direct ads.
Quality writers will help with product listings and blogs, and some can even create email marketing content for you to optimize your existing list. They can quickly work to set and achieve the well-defined goals your business needs.
Consider where you’re losing prospective buyers or if you’re failing to attract new folks on social, and find someone who can address those concerns. The more comprehensive your content marketing partner, the more flexibility your business has.
Today, lead generation has become a time-intensive, methodological process. It can quickly eat up your day, getting in the way of other aspects of your business. Lead generation is an ongoing process too, so you need a system to streamline it and reduce its burden to have the time and mental capacity to handle whatever else life or business throws at you.
One of the best ways to reduce lead-gen demands is to outsource the task to agencies that specialize in creating leads.
What many entrepreneurs, in and out of the ecommerce space, enjoy is that different companies specialize in different areas. So, you might be able to work with an ecommerce specialist or even a lead-gen brand that works on your specific content area — especially true if it’s B2B or in a major market like apparel.
Outsourcing lead-gen also gives you access to a wide range of tactics. Your consultant might first start with email and Twitter. If that doesn’t work, you can ask them to switch to cold calls and other types of social ads. Their mission is to deliver quality leads to you and adapt to your business, which puts multiple avenues of success at getting people to buy at your fingertips.
If you grew your business in a garage, success often means running out of space. As orders pile up, you not only need more product but also more boxes, tape, filler, and receipts. All of those take up space, which puts a squeeze on how quickly you can deliver products to customers.
Outsourcing order fulfillment and inventory management can take the pressure off of you and even allow you to keep minimal staff. Your partner will help manage inventory, prevent you from going out-of-stock, and can even give you access to leading order software support.
They’re a talented group to ensure that products get to customers safely and quickly, plus they’ve worked with enough partners to make recommendations on other software you might be considering.
In the ecommerce space, an order fulfillment partner is often most-valuable when you start to struggle to live up to promised delivery dates. They specifically run their operations to address these challenges. They’ll also make 100% order accuracy and delivery with on-time fulfillment guarantees that can give you and customers peace of mind.
If something happens to a shipment or an order is wrong, you typically don’t have to pay that shipment — this gives you a built-in buffer to afford a resolution like offering the customer a discount or free replacement to keep them happy.
Customer Support and Service
We’re focusing on some of the core elements of any business in this look at outsourcing, so customer service must be part of the conversation. It keeps customers happy, and quality customer service can lead to more orders and a greater customer lifetime value. It’s also easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to go out and find someone new, get them to your site, and then convince them to buy.
A big reason to outsource customer service for almost any ecommerce company is that your customers can live almost anywhere and need answers at almost any time. If you’ve found a company to manage this service for you, they’ll be sure to have someone who can respond in and out of normal business hours.
Many ecommerce stores run with just a couple people. Small staffs can find the chats, emails, phone calls, and social messages overwhelming. And, when you are running a big sale or prepping for the holidays, the increased support demands can pull people away from helping with other aspects of your business.
Some 75% of your customers will demand you deliver service within 5 minutes of contacting you online. That’s a scary sounding number, but the same report also notes that if companies who optimize the customer experience can see up to a 10% revenue growth and 25% cost reduction within a couple of years.
Ecommerce success depends on quality goods and great service. Sometimes, you need to find the right partner to handle that quality service so that you can focus on finding the best products for the best prices.
If you haven’t noticed yet, this isn’t your grandfather’s outsourcing. The practice has become a way for ecommerce companies to hire for specific expertise and experts. You’re getting highly specialized support when you need it most, or when you want a competitive advantage.
When you’re ready for the next step in your business growth, it might be time to look at a new consultant or outsource some business development. A common place to start is to have someone review your business and help you determine what content or changes can maximize your conversion rate.
Experts might find that you don’t have the right details or are hiding shipping options too late in the checkout process. You might need more testimonials or case studies. Outsourcing partners can not only help determine this, but they might offer to help you develop what’s needed too.
If you’re swimming in data and not sure what to do with it, look for consultants who specialize in analytics. They can review your data and look for opportunities around your products and their information, help you better price goods, know what promotions to offer, adjust your positioning based on your audience, and much more.
The boom in ecommerce has also led to a boom in people who work on specific areas of data or product types to help companies just like yours find the best tweaks to generate higher returns.
Final Thought: Check Your Software Options
The last outsourcing aspect to consider is if you can use software to manage a task. Most businesses look at outsourcing as a time- and cost-saving opportunity. There is some optimization in the time-vs-cost space that software might help.
One top area is your calendar and appointments. Yes, many people will turn to a virtual assistant to manage a calendar and set appointments with clients. If most are coming through your content marketing and emails, there are online calendar services that allow people to click a link and set an appointment.
In the customer service realm, there are also many different chatbots you can use to gather customer data or answer questions. If you have enough people to provide service during the day, chatbots are a solid way to collect questions and start trouble tickets at night. Many can now integrate with CRMs, tying problems to customer accounts or collecting larger data to help you resolve issues faster.
Some ecommerce stores are also looking at outsourcing inventory management and reordering stock as needed. While there are firms that can provide this support, many of today’s ecommerce platforms include inventory controls that automatically place new orders for goods once they hit a low-level you set. If you’re already outsourcing order fulfillment, this may be a service that your 3PL provides through their management software.
New tools exist to help companies automate a wide range of tasks for their business. Automation is a smart part of the outsourcing conversation because it allows you to determine what can be performed through a program and what needs a human touch.
Remember, the best businesses always feel human even if many behind-the-scenes tasks are automated.