8 Ways to Use a Virtual Assistant to Grow Your Drop Shipping Business
We’re going to let you in on a little secret. There is one thing that most successful e-commerce shops have in common (you know, the guys and gals that are making >$50,000 per month or more); they use virtual assistants sourced from freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer to help with administrative tasks.
Many drop shipping retail store owners start with a DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality when they are getting their first store off the ground. But when you start to scale, and take on increasing promotional and strategic marketing activities, finding the time to do the admin-work gets harder and harder.
What usually ends up happening is that a ball or two gets dropped. Social posts stop running daily, blog posts never get written, and other things that seem less urgent that advertising, customer service and order fulfillment can get neglected.
Don’t do that. Seriously, it will make scaling your shop and sales volume harder. Instead, create a free account on one of the leading freelance provider websites and find a virtual assistant to do some of the heavy lifting for you.
1. Live Chat Support
Chat bots aren’t new, but the prevalence of using them as a true customer service tool on e-commerce websites has grown significantly in the past three years. Sure, you have a contact form on your shop where customers can reach you. You may even have a 1-800 number where they can call and leave a message. But in the fast pace of mobile shopping, the one thing that customers really appreciate (aside from great products and low prices) is the ability to ask questions and get answers in real time.
But what if you are running your e-commerce business as a side-gig, and no one is available to answer customer responses on your shop? Don’t get fired from your day job (yet) for moonlighting and trying to navigate customer support on company hours. Get a virtual assistant who is fluent in conversational English, to help provide the support your customers need to make their purchase or follow up on a delivery issue.
2. Returns Exchanges and Refund Management
Into every e-commerce business owner’s life, a few returns and exchanges may fall. That involves managing the return with communication to the vendor, and with the customer. Sometimes, it involves multiple emails to get it done, and the longer it takes, the less happy your customer is going to be. Train your virtual assistant to manage these for you.
3. Blogging and Social Media Post Writing
Content marketing is critically important to the success and growth of any e-commerce store. If you love to write about your products and business, no problem! But if those social posts are not being prepared and scheduled, or if those blogs aren’t happening on a frequency that appeases the search engine Gods, then handing that responsibility to your virtual assistant is an easy win.
Offshoring VA help is very affordable, and in many cases virtual assistant can be acquired for a fraction of the cost of hiring a domestic provider. We know that some people have mixed feelings about offshoring this work, but the reality is that the lean stat-up models depend on affordable administrative support. It helps free up more capital for advertising budget and more wiggle room in your revenue and profit margins. Not to mention that you are paying a very good wage to a deserving assistant (find a good one) who can grow with you as your business grows too.
Don’t believe us? While you are interviewing for online virtual assistants (particularly overseas candidates) ask them about their wage expectations. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the affordable rates, and the genuine enthusiasm that your VA will have, when you have helped them remain self-employed from home. They are a delight to work with!
4. Editing for Explainer and Promotional Videos
If you plan on marketing Affiliate style on YouTube or podcasting to reach a larger customer audience, you can provide professional voice over files (we love the talented freelancers on Fiverr!) and either train your virtual assistant to edit the collateral or find one who is creative and experienced as a multimedia editor.
The more multimedia content you create to promote your brand (videos, blogs, podcasts) the better! Editing takes more time than e-commerce business owners (particularly if you have more than one shop) than most entrepreneurs have. Your virtual assistant can pitch in so that you can churn out engaging content that will help convert visitors to buyers.
5. Editing Product Images
Some vendors are meticulous about the product images they provide on AliExpress. They are consistently sized, on a white background and without any kind of watermarks that can distract the customer or appear cluttered on page.
We’ll be honest. Some vendors are great at mass production of really amazing products, and not so great on the marketing side (that’s why they value the e-commerce community as part of the distribution and promotional channel). While you are filtering the products, you want to add to your store, you may need to edit, resample (resize) images or remove backgrounds for consistency in visual display; your virtual assistant can help with that too.
6. Product Research with Parameters
AliExtractor has a number of filters that make product discovery and research easier. You can search by product category, then sort by a variety of parameters including sales volume, vendor rating, and supply statistics. Does the vendor frequently pause shipments or discontinue products? You’ll learn how to navigate away from problematic vendors on AliExpress and pick the best products from the most reliable drop shipping vendors.
Listen to AliExtractor CEO Neil Twa explain how product filters work and use the tutorial to train your virtual assistant to save prospective products in a favorites list for you to review. Just give your VA the parameters and let them reduce your product discovery and research time so you can focus on the other important stuff.
7. Guest Contributor Opportunities and Organic Backlink Building
Is it worth spending your time drafting articles about e-commerce, or interesting posts that reflect the lifestyle benefits of your product niche? You bet! There are many high-traffic media sites that are hungry for quality content, and they will accept guest blogs and contributor posts, usually allowing for one organic keyword backlink to your website or e-commerce shop.
Google and Bing absolutely love websites and businesses that constantly build and grow their backlinks. Why? Because it is more social proof that you are a legitimate business promoting your products online using content marketing best-practice.
Need more evidence that guest blogging provides valuable ROI and rich backlinks that stimulate increased traffic to your shop. Yep, we’re going to quote Neil Patel again (what can we say, we’re huge fans of the guy). Check out his article “Why Guest Blogging is the Best Inbound Marketing Strategy (A Data Driven Answer)”.
Give your virtual assistant some concise direction on the types of websites you would like to be a contributor on (those that share a similar target audience and have a solid DA), and have your VA create a spreadsheet of your best guest-blogging opportunities on a spreadsheet.
- The name and URL of the site accepting guest blog contributions.
- The global and domestic traffic ranking for each site (get them using Alexa for quick stats).
- The URL of the guest content guidelines (i.e. article length, keyword density and backlink limits).
- The email address or form page to submit content for review and approval.
Aim for 1-2 placed guest blog article per month (or more if you can) to support organic SEO for your store. It’s essential, and easy to do with a great virtual assistant.
When you are running your e-commerce business solo, you are really only accountable to yourself. But the second you add other people to the mix (such as a family member or friend) and a virtual assistant, suddenly it ‘smells like team spirit’ right?
Encourage your virtual assistant to contribute ideas that can help with content and customer service development. As you are delegating essential administrative tasks to your assistant, you’re going to feel really good watching everything done on a schedule. That consistency, and having that extra person you are accountable to, supports growth.
You won’t feel like the Lone Ranger of e-commerce. You’ll feel and act more like a small business owner, and that will help you scale your business faster.