A Complete Guide to Outsourcing for Amazon Sellers
You’ve been selling on Amazon and your business has gained traction. However, you may be finding it harder and harder to get to the next level because it just doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day. You also may be working day in and day out, but need a way to be able to step back and enjoy your life so you don’t get burnt out. Or maybe you’re looking for a way to turn your Amazon business into passive income so you can focus on your next venture. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, it may be time to start outsourcing.
You outsource because the results you get from freelancers or Outsourced Amazon Management Firms like PDMG are greater than the cost you pay them. Often the benefits are much greater than you may expect.
Are you like most business owners and have a hard time getting done all the things you need to? There’s a famous saying, “work on your business, not in your business.” Often when you’re bogged down in the day-to-day management of your business, you’re missing out on bigger opportunities! How many new products, great partnerships, and growth opportunities have passed you by because you were bogged down in the minutiae of your business? And hey, a better quality of life never hurt anyone. Having good people behind you allows you to take breaks and spend more time on other aspects of life.
As great as you are at each individual daily task that running your business requires, you may not be an expert at every aspect. Often you can find great help in a freelancer or Amazon agency who can manage specific parts of your business even better than you can. They might be able to see problems or opportunities you don’t see! How helpful would it be to have someone who, for example, has already done split tests on hundreds of listings and can immediately apply the techniques they’ve spent years perfecting to your business?
ESTABLISH PROCESSES AND STREAMLINE HOW YOUR BUSINESS OPERATES
Often entrepreneurs have a hard time delegating, because they’ve never established regular processes. An important step in your business is actually documenting what you do. There are plenty of free project management tools available that you can use to document the tasks and processes you have. I recently started using and have had much success with Clickup, which is free and has all the features I want. Even before outsourcing, developing and implementing a strategy of operation that takes advantage of this kind of software will really help you stay organized and get everything done.
If you’re using a project management tool like this, once you add freelancers, you can just assign them the tasks they are responsible for, and you’ll be able to see when they’ve completed them!
Typical Processes for an Amazon Business
I’ve included the typical processes of an Amazon business. These don’t need to all be done by separate people, but you should make sure they are all covered.
AMAZON PPC ADVERTISING
I consider this one of the easiest parts of an Amazon business to outsource to freelancers or management firms. Often, most of the work is already done with your listings! Amazon PPC is relatively simple and someone can manage your PPC from the data Amazon provides you in the campaign manager. A good PPC manager will be watching the ads regularly and giving you suggestions to help improve your listings based on the advertising data.
AMAZON CUSTOMER SERVICE
Buyer messages can really suck up a lot of your time. Luckily, there’s always an abundance of willing freelancers or amazon agencies available who can help you in this regard. Help freelancers by providing them with proper onboarding including adequate information about the products, a reference guide for potential questions, and your return and refund policies. Buyer messages should be answered within 24 hours, and preferably checked at least twice a day. Make sure you’ve got someone who can be reliable and will take care to respond to all of them. Responsive customer service can help you avoid negative reviews and feedback.
The key here is to not micromanage. The freelancers you hire shouldn’t have to ask your permission each time they need to give a refund. What typically works best is to establish a standard for what types of situations warrant a refund, and only require approval for refunds or returns that are over a specified dollar amount. Let the freelancers handle it, then, after a while, evaluate how your policy has worked out and adjust as needed.
If applicable, give them the contact info of the person in charge of editing your listings. Often, customer questions will highlight areas where the listing can be improved to better set customer expectations or preemptively answer potential questions.
AMAZON ORDER FULFILLMENT
If you’re using FBA, Amazon will handle fulfilling your orders. This is typically the best option because if Amazon ever makes a mistake and earns you bad seller feedback, you can get the feedback removed. The Prime badge also increases sales over fulfilled-by-merchant listings.
However, if you’re fulfilling any of your own orders, you need to make sure this is done well. There are plenty of 3PLs that can help with this and can fulfill not only your Amazon orders, but sales you have from other platforms as well.
AMAZON INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Keeping items in stock is obviously important. Have someone monitor your inventory levels and sales rates to create orders for additional inventory at the appropriate time. They can also monitor and secure refunds from Amazon when Amazon loses inventory or makes other mistakes.
AMAZON PRODUCT LISTINGS & COPYWRITING
Your listings need to look great. Plenty of Amazon Experts know how to crank out great listings and copy in record time. Make sure you give your copywriter all the information they need to highlight the benefits of your product. You’ll likely want your copywriter to perform the keyword research and write the titles, bullets, and descriptions for your listings, as well as generate the backend search terms.
Luckily, this process is relatively simple. When you get a new product, send one or two units over to a photographer. The photographer can take the pictures from all the different angles you need and touch up the photos. Make sure the product (and packaging) gets to them in pristine condition so the photos can come out looking great.
If you’re having them shoot lifestyle photos, make sure to give them information about your brand, potential customers, and the product. This way they can plan a proper photo shoot and get images that will appeal to your target customers.
Many people are skilled at working with suppliers and getting you the product you need. This includes negotiating with suppliers, creating orders, and working out other logistics. This person should be in touch with whoever is managing your inventory so the timing can be planned efficiently.
AMAZON PICKING YOUR FREELANCERS
Now that you’ve gotten a general idea for what you need, now you will assemble the group of freelancers that will bring your business to the next level.
AMAZON FINDING FREELANCERS
Luckily, in 2018, there are plenty of platforms and ways to find great help. You can use a freelancer marketplace such as FreeeUp or Upwork. The advantage of FreeeUp is that you let them know what need you’re looking to fill, and they will go through the process of selecting freelancers for you, and can introduce you to pre-vetted freelancers within one business day! That’ll save you the time of putting out a task description, waiting for proposals, going through all the proposals, and interviewing candidates like you would do on another site like Upwork.
There are also standalone specialized agencies such as Palmetto Digital Marketing Group who already have a full team assembled. I don’t include platforms such as Fiverr since these are more geared toward one-time service packages, not freelancers who will work with you day-to-day.
When selecting freelancers, I’d always make sure to use people who are serious about their freelance business and aren’t just trying to get paid to watch Netflix instead of answering your emails and calls. That’s why I recommend going through a vetted marketplace where you can make sure that your contractors have a history of providing great service to clients. It’s also worth the time to read the ebook from FreeeUp on the 10 Common Mistakes Of Outsourcing And How To Avoid Them. It’s packed with great tips for hiring, onboarding and managing freelancers from all over the world.
Once you’ve selected the right freelancers, it’s time to get them started. You will want to establish an onboarding process.
Let your freelancers know your expectations on processes and communication. Using a task and project management tool like Trello or Slack can help you by automatically tracking and making sure that things get done so nothing slips through the cracks.
If you decide to bring on freelancers that have less experience, you’ll need to give them a little more in-depth onboarding. Let them know the essential information and the approach you like to take in handling issues. Make sure they have access to the files and permissions on your Amazon account they will need.
How much time do you want them to spend on your business? What’s the best way and method of contacting you? What are “emergency” situations that would warrant contacting you regardless of the time? What types of discounts, sales, or changes are they authorized to make without checking with you first?
Usually you’ll want to be readily available as they get started, and then set a time for a regular call. Get their feedback after the first week or two about how you are supporting them and whether they are ready to have you less involved, or if there are other tools, support, or information they need. Is a weekly call enough? Is it too much? Evaluate and adjust as needed.
While you don’t need to be available around the clock, make an effort to be responsive, especially in the beginning. Sometimes a freelancer will need to make a change or do something that requires billing information, tax information, or something else they don’t have. Before you go traveling on your dream vacation with your newfound free time, make sure they have a way to contact you and that you can respond in a timely manner.
While it may sound daunting at first, the key — as with anything — is to get started. You may not be ready to outsource your whole business, but maybe you can start by outsourcing some of the simpler, more repetitive tasks that eat up your day. As you free up your time, you’ll have more and more space to grow and will get to the point where you can and want to outsource more and more.
It’s always a learning process to outsource work for the first time. Remember that freelancers are people too; give them the resources and information they need, and be understanding if it takes a little bit of time until all the details get nailed down.
Connor Gillivan is the CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp.com, a rapidly growing freelance marketplace making hiring online simpler. He has sold over $30 million online, has hired hundreds of freelancers to build his companies, is a published author, and is the owner of ConnorGillivan.com. He currently lives in Denver, CO.