As a business owner, the phrase "wearing many hats" is something that most likely applies to you — especially if you own a smaller retail business. Not only do you have to run your store but you also have to take care of orders, customer care, online presence, marketing — you name it. The list is never-ending.
You're probably aware it would be more beneficial to your business if you spend your time doing what you love the most: developing and growing your brand. But those daily and perhaps monotonous tasks are still crucial for keeping everything in order.
This is where virtual assistants can step in to help you. There are entire companies specializing in the exact tasks you need help with. Let’s see how a virtual assistant can be beneficial for your retail business Product Photography
As an example, It doesn't matter if you are your own photographer or you use photographs provided by your retail partners. One thing is sure — you need to keep them well-organized. Why wouldn't you free up your valuable time and ask a virtual assistant to manage your content and materials?
From personal experience, I can share a desktop is not a good storage place for your materials. You’ll only end up panicking over a tight deadline when you can't find them, or even worse, lose them altogether in a bunch of other content. As a good starting point, you could ask your virtual assistant to use Dropbox or Google Drive and then create a folder for each one of your partners or categories — whatever works best for you. It will ensure you have easy access to your materials whenever you need them.
Handle Customer Service Tasks
According to the Harvard Company Review, business owners spend an average of 3% of their working hours interacting with customers. In other words, company owners only have about two hours a week to spend with the people who are essential to their business’ success.
With everything on your plate, it's easy for customer care to fall to the wayside. While it's completely understandable, it's not sustainable if you want your business to grow and retain customers.
No matter how big or small your business is, hiring a virtual assistant to handle your customer service needs is always a good idea. With virtual outsourcing, you can choose how many hours you want to engage your assistant. On the other hand, hiring an in-house customer care team would likely be more expensive and probably unnecessary for a small business.
A virtual assistant with strong customer service abilities may help customers by answering their questions via the phone, live chat, email and/or social media. They can answer inquiries in real-time for consumers who are about to make a purchase, manage unhappy customers with care, deal with missing shipments and much more.
A virtual assistant may walk consumers through the sales process while they’re still on your website, boosting conversion rates by providing human assistance at the point of purchase. Further, when engaging with your consumers, they may find opportunities to cross-sell and upsell.
Manage Inventory, Order Processing, and Fulfillment
Managing orders, inventory and shipping are usually the most time-consuming and monotonous tasks, but they’re essential. If you're thinking of outsourcing only one aspect of your business, this may as well be the one. It is usually the easiest to outsource as it is very straightforward, so it's unlikely you will have misunderstandings with your virtual assistant.
Your assistant can manage everything related to order processing, including order input, shipping and billing. Delegate to them the job of compiling orders, managing invoices from your suppliers and other day-to-day duties.
A virtual assistant can also handle merchandise returns and exchanges for your retail shop. They may interact directly with customers and suppliers through your email address to arrange swaps, returns and reimbursements.
Suppose you're hiring someone to help only in this area of the business. In that case, you may want to find an assistant who's knowledgeable in inventory management — they can check stock levels, update your website's stock levels, and notify you once items need to be replenished.
If the position isn't fully remote, you can also arrange your virtual assistant to manage the delivery of goods to your warehouse or wherever they are needed.
Implement Website Updates
The average virtual assistant may not have this skill set, so make sure you hire someone with experience in website management. Consistently updating your online retail shop is critical to your business and you want to make sure that only someone with the right qualifications has access to it.
Here are some tasks your virtual assistant can do for you in the website department:
- Check for broken links
- Format images to the highest quality
- Regularly update any price changes, services, current promotions, discounts, etc.
- Post the latest news about your business or update your blog
Marketing, PR and Outreach
Unless you own an extremely well-known local family business, you can’t get by without deliberate advertising efforts. Even then, a strong online presence can make a huge difference.
To be successful in retail, you must market yourself. This includes distributing flyers, encouraging positive word-of-mouth and going digital. Digitalization has been one of the most significant developments in the retail industry in recent years. E-commerce has changed the landscape and forced even the most entrenched local businesses to adopt an online presence.
And it's only going to expand more from here. After the pandemic hit, we had to relearn how to manage and complete even the simplest daily tasks. The digital space became even more prominent. If you have no clue where to begin, that’s okay. Even if you've always been a one-person show, now may be the perfect time to hire your virtual helper.
There are plenty of virtual assistants who focus solely on PR and marketing. They can take care of your social media profile, gather and organize content, write marketing copy and even handle Facebook and Google Ads. Just keep in mind the more expertise you expect from your virtual assistant, the more it will cost — but offloading menial tasks to focus on growth is almost always worth it.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant may help you with everything from customer service to administrative tasks to design work. While each virtual assistant has their own set of skills, there are specific characteristics every virtual assistant should have.
Besides being trustworthy and reliable, your virtual assistant should be great at multitasking. After all, they're professional task managers who are there to take those little hassles off your plate.
There are other essential characteristics you should look for in an online assistant. There is A Better Answer and we know it's not a choice you should make lightly, so take your time and ensure you trust your tasks to the right person.
Take ownership of your time and focus on growing your brand. Hiring a virtual assistant will increase your productivity immensely, and you will finally have time to address all of your business’ high-level objectives.