Becoming an online seller can give you the financial freedom you’ve been dreaming of, but you can’t afford to get bogged down in the details. In this blog, we will explore whether or not hiring an Amazon virtual assistant is right for you.
Throughout this article i’ll regularly refer to virtual assistants as VA’s.
Outsourcing is an important part of scaling an Amazon business, with the help of Amazon VA’s we have been able to focus on the design aspect of the business, rather than all the doing.
If you’ve read the book Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz you’ll know what i mean when i refer to the design and doing.
Anyway, let’s jump right into it.
What is an Amazon Virtual Assistant?
An Amazon VA provides you with remote assistance within your Amazon business, this allows you to focus on growth rather than the smaller details.
You can choose to employ a VA on a full-time, part-time or ad hoc basis. You can also choose to work with them remotely or on-site, depending on your needs.
Our Amazon virtual assistants undergo intensive training that enables them to perform multiple tasks.
VAs usually work on a retainer rate or have hourly packages that you can choose from depending on your requirements.
Whether you are selling services or products on Amazon, a VA can assist you with everything from customer service to managing your social media presence.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of tasks an Amazon virtual assistant can help you with.
How an Amazon Virtual Assistant Can Help You
The idea is that a VA is there to pick up the mundane tasks that you barely have time for, allowing you to spend time on more productive, business-orientated tasks. Ask yourself what you could be doing if you had several extra hours a week – this is what a VA can help you do.
Here are a few of the tasks that you could assign to a VA.
- Product Sourcing. If you’ve gone through this process, you’ll know how time-consuming it can be. However, I’ve found that this is one of the easiest tasks to train a VA in. It can also save you countless hours every year if you find a VA who understands exactly what to look for.
- Customer Service. We already know that providing customers with excellent service is essential if you want to succeed as an Amazon seller. The downside is that it takes time, so why not get a VA to assist you instead?
- Supplier management. Another task that tends to eat away at a seller’s time is making sure suppliers have everything they need – this isn’t something you need to handle yourself. Naturally, make sure your VA has experience with supplier management though.
- Listings management. Your listings are essential to the success of your business. I don’t believe sellers should be completely removed from listing optimization, however; the day-to-day management and updates can be left to a VA. Keeping track of what your competitors are doing is also something you can get an experienced VA to assist you with.
- Social media. Creating new posts, responding to customers, and keeping an eye on competitors are all tasks that a trained VA can take off your hands.
Do You Really Need an Amazon Virtual Assistant?
It’s only natural to wonder whether you should be putting budget aside for a VA when you’re trying to grow your business as an Amazon seller.
Here are just some of the benefits of hiring a VA:
- Free up your time. If you had to sit down and really break down how you spend your time every week, you will clearly see how many hours you could free up by hiring a VA. If you’re serious about growing your business, you are going to need to hand over some day-to-day tasks to someone else that you trust.
- Works with your unique budget. You might be thinking that you can’t afford a VA, but you have the power to make it work with your budget. You don’t need to hire a VA on a full-time basis. You only need to pay for the hours required for the tasks you really don’t have time for. If it takes you 5 hours to respond to customers every week, you could be spending those hours doing something more productive, you only need to hire a VA for 5 hours per week.
- Benefit from additional skills and experience. Perhaps you feel that social media really isn’t your forte. By hiring an Amazon virtual assistant, you instantly benefit from their skills and experience, and so does your business. Hiring a VA is a great way to fill in a few skill-related gaps in your business.
How to Hire the Right Virtual Assistant
I speak from experience when I say that it’s not difficult to find a VA – the trick is finding the right person to assist you.
In the video below i show you how NOT to find a Virtual assistant.
Before you start your search, get clear on your requirements. What tasks do you want to assign to a VA and why? This will ensure you can create a clear brief, know what skills you’re looking for, and what your budget is. It really makes a difference to have this down on paper before you start searching.
Next, you want to set some key performance indicators (KPIs). Once you have your shortlist of VAs, you’ll want to let them know how many hours they will need to work and how they will be evaluated. You also want to clearly define the scope of their work.
By being too vague about what you expect a VA to do, you could end up having to start this entire search again when they can’t deliver.
Being specific about your requirements also allows you to narrow down your list and make a decision much quicker.
Once you decide on an Amazon VA, be sure to get their rates in writing. If there’s a specific way you want them to communicate with you, now’s the time to discuss that.
If you really want to make sure that a VA is the right fit for you, I suggest giving them a test run. Not only does this give you the chance to evaluate their skills and communication, but it gives the VA a feel for how you work and what you expect.
At the end of the day, you want this to be a win-win situation, and a test run makes this possible.
Remember to give your VA a chance though – every seller is different and they need a chance to learn what you need.
Dealing with Common VA Challenges
There a number of advantages associated with hiring an Amazon virtual assistant, but this doesn’t mean it’s going to be all smooth sailing.
When you pick the right professional, you can expect to save both time and money. However, it’s still best to be prepared for potential issues.
Time management is a common issue that online sellers deal with when working with VAs. If your VA isn’t working from a shared office space, they’re probably surrounded by distractions. To stop time management from becoming an issue, I would suggest hiring your VA from a reputable site.
We usually use upwork when it comes to hiring VA’s, if you want a cheaper alternative have a look at fiverr, we’ve spent thousands on their platform.
I always say that your VA will only be as good as your systems and training.
There is also the option of using a time management tool such as Hubstaff, which tracks time and takes screenshots.
Communication can also be an issue, which is why I mentioned getting clear on it early on in the process. How will you get in touch with your VA? What time zone are they in? If there’s a difference, can they be available during some of your working hours?
These are all questions that you need to answer.
Email is always an easy way to communicate, but there is a delay, which is why phone and chat are also recommended – these instant methods are good for when you need to get in touch with your VA urgently.
I also highly recommend creating a system that will ensure you know exactly what a VA is working on and what they’ve achieved every week. If you will be using a productivity and time monitoring app, make sure that your VA is being descriptive about what they’re working on, so that you can use this as a report of sorts.
You don’t need expensive productivity tools if you are just starting out, google sheets are a great easy way to track and manage your VA’s KPI’s.
Also, when you first start working with a VA, you should ideally use a password manager to give them access to your accounts. This way, you don’t need to hand over your username and password to anyone. LastPass is one example of a tool that allows you to do this.
So, do you really need an Amazon virtual assistant? Well, that depends on how quickly you want to be able to grow your online business.
When you first start out, it’s natural to want to save money. In the long run though, a VA can actually help you earn more money. As the saying goes, sometimes you need to spend money to make money.
If you’re already running a full-time Amazon business and are looking for ways to grow, hiring a VA is a great way to do this. If you’re still operating as an online seller on a part-time basis, you can still benefit from hiring a VA, even if it’s just a few hours a month.
As a side note, if you want to find out more about the costs of selling on Amazon, you can read my full break down here.
Once you have more time, I would also recommend undertaking additional training to enhance your skills as an Amazon seller.
We’ve been full time Amazon sellers for over three years now and we’ve learnt A LOT along the way, we explain exactly how we took our Amazon business full time in our training.
If you are interested, you can find out more about our Private Label FBA Training here.