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Is it smart to outsource Amazon operations? What to consider before you do

Guest Blog from Connor Gullivan | CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp.com

eCommerce has been on a roll for the past few years.  With online stores raking in millions of dollars in revenue, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs everywhere have bitten the bullet and started one themselves.

While most eCommerce operations are conducted online, it would be a huge mistake to assume that running an Amazon business is easy.  It takes a lot of time and effort to keep one standing with the amount of competition you have to contend with.

From sourcing products and fulfilling orders to optimizing product listings and providing customer service, the amount of tasks to accomplish can soon become too much for any one person to handle.

While handling this yourself may be possible in the early stages,  what happens then when your business begins to take off? What if your products and your store begin gaining traction?  What happens when the usual number of transactions you process more than doubles?

An overwhelmed CEO is not good for business, which is why it begs the question:  Is it smart to outsource Amazon operations?

Considering what’s at stake, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” 

But before you jump in, there are a couple of things you need to consider.

Are you spending too much time on tasks other people can do?

As a business owner trying to keep a business afloat, this is probably the biggest consideration to think about.  It’s safe to say that everything you do for your business is aimed at making it profitable, but we can’t ignore the fact that not all tasks are considered high value.

Tasks like customer service and order fulfillment may be easy and clerical in nature but they do take a lot of time.  This is especially true when you have more than 10 orders to process and each order takes 20 minutes to accomplish, for instance.

Doing the math, it would take more than 3 hours to get these all done which is fair enough unless you have other tasks waiting to be attended to.  If you still have other tasks like inventory management, social media, product list optimization, and others waiting to get done, 8 hours of work is simply not enough.

Are your higher value tasks already compromised?

Being a CEO is crucial not just to the daily operations but for the business as a whole.  CEOs act as operations managers, which means they’re responsible for overseeing the business’ daily operations.  

Are all the aspects of the business functioning as expected?  Are orders being fulfilled in a timely manner? Is the business turning in profit while serving its customers efficiently?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because CEOs are also responsible for other high-value tasks like coming up with new marketing strategies, developing business plans, and being on the lookout for new business opportunities, to name a few.

If you’re no longer able to perform these tasks because you’re too busy with product sourcing and customer service, for example, it’s probably time to outsource Amazon operations to a freelancer. 

Your responsibilities as a CEO should always be a top priority, which is why outsourcing your other tasks to freelancers makes perfect sense, in this case.

Does outsourcing make sense from both a financial and logistics standpoint?

One of the things that makes outsourcing an attractive solution for business owners is that it’s more cost-effective than hiring someone full time.

Either way you look at it, you’re going to need help as your business expands.  It’s just a matter of choosing which way you do it. Hiring a full-time employee comes with a lot of responsibilities.  Not only will you be paying for salary, but you are also required to pay for insurance, leave and vacation, and other related expenses.

This is where outsourcing makes a huge difference.  Unlike full-time employment, you only need to pay a freelancer for hours worked or for the fixed amount you agreed upon for a certain project.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Outsourcing makes sense from a logistical standpoint, as well because it allows you to delegate important tasks to an individual who is dedicated to only that task.  Not only does this ensure productivity, but it also raises the quality of work, which should translate to more sales and bigger profit.

With freelancers on deck, you’re giving your business the opportunity to compete at a higher level because every task is given the focus it deserves.  More importantly, it allows you to do what a CEO does, which is to continue to look for opportunities for growth.

If your decision is based on this consideration, it is definitely a smart move to outsource Amazon operations.   

Which tasks should you be outsourcing?

The prospect of outsourcing can be exciting, but it’s important not to get caught up in the moment.  Before you proceed, make sure you have carefully studied which tasks you’ll be outsourcing first.

Once you’ve decided that you will outsource Amazon operations, the best thing to do is evaluate all the tasks at hand.  Which of them are necessary but not urgent? Which of them are both? Which of them can be safely covered by a freelancer and which of them can’t?

Make a list of all these tasks so you can have a better idea of what needs to get done and who can help.  

It would also be wise to consider outsourcing tasks that require highly specialized skills, like graphic design or SEO. Social media, while easy to learn and implement, may still be better off handled by someone who has experience and expertise. Customer service is also something you may consider outsourcing especially if you’re planning to implement 24/7 operation. There’s a deep pool of talented and experienced customer service specialists from other countries who can “man the phone” while you sleep and be your voice until you get back on duty.

In the end, all of this will really depend on your needs and preferences.  Just make sure to evaluate thoroughly so you can determine what solution will work best.

Are you ready to work with someone remotely?

When you get into outsourcing, most of the interaction and collaboration will happen online.  

You’ll be working with remote freelancers who can be sitting at the opposite end of the world in a different time zone, which may introduce a number of possible issues.

Are you going to be comfortable talking over chat and doing video calls?  Will exclusive email communication be acceptable? Is it okay for freelancers to work their own hours or do they need to adapt to the same work hours as yours?

Since a lot of the freelancers today reside outside of the United States, language and culture can become a source of conflict as well, so before you jump in, you need to make sure that you can properly communicate with whomever you decide to hire.

It’s important to know what you’re facing right from the get-go because your business’ success depends on it.  This is especially true if you are used to working with in-office employees — the dynamics are totally different.

Final considerations

Outsourcing Amazon operations is, without question, a smart move no matter how you look at it. It helps you save time, get more things done, and add top-caliber talent to your business if done right.  If you have gone through the considerations mentioned above and everything makes sense, then it’s time to give outsourcing a shot.

Whether you do it today or not is entirely up to you, but we both know that when it comes to running an Amazon business, outsourcing is inevitable.  Why wait until the last minute when you have the opportunity to prepare your business for growth right now before progress starts to bog you down?

Connor Gullivan

Connor Gullivan

CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp.com, a rapidly growing freelance marketplace making hiring online simpler. Connor 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.

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