The 3 Most Important Things to Outsource in an Online Business
If you’ve recently launched an eCommerce business, or are thinking of doing so, you’ve probably heard something along the lines of: “One of the best things about running an online business is the freedom it provides.”
Running a virtual company does offer more freedom and flexibility than a traditional company might. There is no physical office space to maintain and it often requires fewer employees to keep things afloat. Business owners can work from anywhere they please and are not tied down to a 9-to-5 schedule.
However, managing a successful eCommerce company is by no means an easy task. Launching and running a business online still requires a crazy amount of work – especially in the beginning stages. Unfortunately, much of this work tends to fall on the founder of the company.
When anyone has too much on their plate, it can lead to major stress, burnout, and loss of focus. Even the most motivated entrepreneurs are not immune to these pressures. These negative side effects can signal death for a new business. And sadly, this is one of the reasons why 90% of online companies fail within the first few months.
As the saying goes, “A Jack of all trades is a master of none.” No matter how skilled, talented, or committed you may be to running your online company, the truth is that one person simply cannot do it all. And even that rare person who can do almost everything, only has so many hours in the day.
Rather than scrambling from one task to the next and compromising on the quality of the work, it is absolutely essential for online entrepreneurs to know when and how to outsource. Here are three key areas to consider.
1. Inventory Management
When starting an online business, the inventory process can be an absolute nightmare. Many people run these businesses out of their own homes or small office spaces – which often do not have the storage space necessary to keep stock. This means that an additional storage unit or warehousing space needs to be rented out. And that can come at a large cost for new businesses!
If a company doesn’t have or can’t afford the extra space, they may instead resort to keeping stock low. However, this strategy significantly limits revenue and can backfire once sales start to pick up.
Another inventory challenge for online startups is the lack of historical data to base inventory projections on. Figuring out the amount of product needed can be an expensive guessing game for new businesses.
Instead of dealing with the extremely stressful task of managing inventory, it may be best for online business owners to outsource this task to a dropshipping supplier. A drop shipper handles the entire inventory and shipping process. Often times, this means that the online company itself never even has to touch the product. By eliminating inventory costs and ordering mistakes, online retailers who partner with drop shippers report up to 18% higher profit margins.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a crucial business component needed to attract relevant audiences and boost SEO rankings. However, consistently creating large amounts of top-quality quality is a daunting task. Even professional content marketers state that the time it takes to create good pieces on a frequent basis is one of the biggest challenges of the job.
On average, customers will check out three to five pieces of content before considering a purchase. If the quality of that content is high and provides beneficial information, that customer will be more likely to convert. Additionally, websites that publish stellar content and are labeled “leaders” in their niche report almost eight times more online traffic than their competitors.
Since content quality is so important to establishing a business and attracting customers, it is wise for some online startups with limited resources to outsource their content marketing. There are many freelancers and marketing agencies that can provide this service at fairly low costs. Certainly, it may be helpful to hire an in-house marketing team down the road. But going down the outsourcing route is a great time and money-saving option for most online companies.
3. Customer Service
Customer service is an essential ingredient to a successful business. It is also one of the most challenging parts of an online company. Very few of the interactions are ever done in-person. Additionally, online stores are not bound by traditional business hours, meaning that many customers expect support at all times.
For a brand new startup with little to no staff, the task of handling customer queries via email or on the phone can be extremely cumbersome. Online customers can definitely be an impatient bunch. 75% of online shoppers want a response within just five minutes. And of course, they are quite likely to abandon their order if they don’t receive the assistance they need.
Great customer service is an invaluable asset that businesses must have if they want to grow their customer base. Many businesses look to outsource their customer service department in order to save money and free up time to focus on other aspects of the business.
These reasons are certainly important. Yet the traditional approach to outsourcing customer service meant partnering with a company (generally one that exists overseas) and providing a script for agents to follow with customer interactions.
Unfortunately, this method has produced less than stellar results for many businesses. First of all, it gives business owners very little control over customer service interactions. Untrained reps could easily provide incorrect information to the customer. It also stands in the way of providing a consistent brand message and experience. This is because workers in a call center may know little to nothing about the company they are representing.
Thankfully, there is another option that is much easier to control and maintain.
AI-powered chatbots have become more common over the past few years because of their capability to provide instant support for customers. These tools can be programmed to answer the most common customer queries. They can even offer product suggestions for upselling and cross-selling. Machine learning technology gathers data from each interaction to improve conversational skills and provide better results as time goes on.
Due to the ability to provide assistance at a moment’s notice, 45% of customers already report that they would prefer to interact with a live chat feature than call a customer service department. As chatbots become more common and sophisticated, it is quite likely that the popularity will only continue to increase.
Online entrepreneurs typically wear many hats – especially in the beginning stages of their business. Unfortunately, multi-tasking in a company can ultimately hurt the bottom line, especially if it is standing in the way of an excellent customer experience.
Online companies can certainly benefit from a helping hand. And outsourcing various tasks of the business is an excellent way to improve results while saving business owners time, money, and headaches.
What tasks do you – or have you ever considered – outsource? What benefits have you found from outsourcing? Have you ever outsourced something you’re really good at but don’t have enough time to do?
Can you offer any advice to entrepreneurs who are struggling to do everything themselves? This is a really important subject, and your words could be really helpful. Thanks in advance!
You may also want to read: 5 Compelling Reasons to Outsource Your Content Creation
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