By: Guest Post
First-time eCommerce merchants manage every aspect of their business because they don’t have much choice in the matter. When you’re bootstrapping a new business, every cent counts, and that means long hours of marketing, data shuffling, design, supplier negotiation, and more.
After a while, doing everything yourself becomes a hard habit to break, but which must be broken if a retail business is to fulfill its full potential. Founders who can’t delegate become a bottleneck that hinder growth and put a ceiling on the value a business can generate.
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In the old-days, delegation meant hiring, but today’s eCommerce merchants have a better option: outsourcing to freelancers, agencies, and other third-party service providers.
When Should You Outsource?
In the early days of any business, it can be tricky to outsource because it is not clear what their workflows will be — everything is still in flux. If you don’t know what needs to be done and when, you aren’t able to communicate those needs to a contractor or agency.
As the business grows and it becomes clear what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly, take the time to examine your workflows for tasks that could be completed by a third party.
This may seem counterintuitive, but if you ever want to sell your eCommerce business, it will be more valuable to a buyer if you aren’t a vital cog in the works. Identifying opportunities for outsourcing can lighten your load while increasing the value of your business.
What Should eCommerce Retailers Outsource
It is ideal to outsource tasks that aren’t your core competence. As an eCommerce retailer, you should be focused on tasks that increase revenue and accelerate growth. There are many tasks that are essential to the health and longevity of the business, but that don’t directly contribute to growth.
- Repetitive administration tasks — Every business involves paper shuffling and record keeping. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve wasted laboriously moving figures from web service to spreadsheet or even from one spreadsheet to a different spreadsheet. These tasks are perfect for outsourcing.
- Skilled work — If there’s work that a trained professional can do faster and better than you, outsource it. It might save you a few dollars to design your own product pages, but if you aren’t a trained designer, it will take you longer to produce less effective results.
- Expertise — You’ve probably heard the saying that a man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer. The same goes for accounting, IT security and server management, and many other areas that are better if outsourced to the professionals.
Let’s finish with a few concrete examples of tasks an eCommerce retailer might want to consider outsourcing.
Content creation. Content is a vital component of online marketing, but it demands consistency, talent, and time that might be better spent elsewhere.
Server management. If you aren’t a skilled and experience server administrator, outsource to a managed hosting provider. You don’t have the time and the security of your business may be on the line.
Fulfillment. Services like Fulfillment by Amazon let you tap into pre-existing logistics and delivery systems and avoid the headaches that come with managing a warehouse and packing products.
Outsourcing is easier and less expensive than it has ever been. It can free you to focus on growing your eCommerce business, which is, after all, what you’re working so hard to achieve in the first place.
Graeme Caldwell works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting.