Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

Six Services Every Scaling Small Business Should Outsource

Matthew Grattan / 3 min read
Table of Contents

    Are you spending too much time managing operational logistics instead of being front and center in growing your business? You’re not alone. Less than 15% of business owners and managers feel like they’re spending their time on the right activities. But, as costs and competition increase, it’s time to ditch the “I can do it all myself” mentality and offload those onerous back office tasks.

    While every business is different, here are six services that make sense to outsource.

    1. Information Technology (IT)

    A 2014 Deloitte survey found that 53% of companies outsource at least some of their IT functions; another 26% plan to do so in the near future. In addition to cost savings (which can be as high as 40%, using outside vendors or cloud solutions to manage your IT functions makes you more agile as a company and provides flexibility as your business grows.

    2. Accounting/Finance

    Payroll is the most commonly outsourced service, yet 60% of small businesses still handle this function in-house. Handing this task off to the experts or helpful payroll software has been shown to decrease costs and increase compliance. Companies that outsource payroll save 18% over businesses that tackle it themselves.

    Furthermore, the IRS estimates that 40% of small businesses pay roughly $845 per year in penalties for late or incorrect filings and payments. Sales tax can be equally burdensome. Aberdeen Research Group estimates that small companies spend 24 days per year manually managing sales tax compliance at a cost of around $22,000. Face an audit and this cost increases four-fold. Online services and automated software can reduce this risk and save you a bundle in the long run.

    3. People

    Three in four U.S. small businesses say hiring freelancers gives them a competitive edge. One-third of Americans are now opting to freelance, contract or consult, which means there is no shortage of skilled labor for hire. Utilizing freelance and contract workers gets companies talent they likely couldn’t afford otherwise. Virtual assistants are also a hot commodity, with affordable admin experts a mere click away. Outsourcing allows your business to scale staffing needs according to seasonality or project. Just be sure to follow protocol for properly classifying workers to avoid IRS scrutiny and possible penalties.

    4. Marketing

    Ecommerce and social selling has made online marketing, web stores and social media more vital than ever for small businesses. But, for most, it isn’t financially feasible to have full-time PR, social media and web design functions in house, nor is it the best use of resources. A survey showed that small business owners spend roughly 33 hours a week on marketing activities. A high number (76%) of this group reports having insufficient time in the day to get everything done.

    5. Logistics

    As a retailer, outsourcing logistics frees up time to focus on selling and merchandising. Having fulfillment, warehousing and delivery activities handled by third-party providers not only lowers overall spend, it helps improve customer service. These providers are experts in what they do. So they can respond quickly and scale to meet demand easier than you can.

    Which fulfillment, warehousing and delivery activity providers you use depends heavily on your business size and what type of products you sell. Let us know in the comments which apps or integrations you are using and why they work, or don’t, for you.

    6. Customer support

    For smaller organizations, having trained or dedicated customer service staff isn’t always a viable option. This often means office staff or salespeople have to handle this function, dividing their time between getting new customers and keeping the old ones happy. Outsourcing to a contact center can give you that extra manpower to handle those customer calls. However, business owners should carefully weigh their options as costs and services vary widely. Cloud-based services or shared-agent solutions may be more affordable options.

    Outsourcing can be a smart strategy for extending your capabilities as an organization while keeping a focus on your core competencies. One of the best examples of cost savings is utilizing freelance or contract workers — saving you between 30% and 50% over employing full time staff. Also, don’t discount other advantages such as lower risk, better compliance and greater control over resources. Most importantly, outsourcing allows you to refocus your priorities as a business owner or manager and avoid wasting time, money and talent (including your own) on activities that could be better handled by an expert outside your organization.

    If you are a Bigcommerce store owner, you can utilize the app marketplace in order to find appropriate and curated third-party providers for many of the tasks above.


    Matthew Grattan

    Matthew Grattan

    Matthew Grattan is a senior national director for Avalara’s ecommerce team. He’s been with Avalara for over five years supporting their ecommerce practice. Matthew has 17 years of experience in the software and SaaS industries. He received his degree at Bryant University with a degree in finance.

    View all posts by Matthew Grattan

    4 comments on “Six Services Every Scaling Small Business Should Outsource

    1. Jessica on

      According to the Deloitte Survey in 2016 the top 6 services companies prefer to outsource are respectively:
      1) IT 2) Legal 3) FM and RE 4) Tax 5) HR 6) Finance https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/nl/Documents/operations/deloitte-nl-s&o-global-outsourcing-survey.pdf What is interesting that the level of IT outsourcing is increasing (31%). I’ve also found some figures provided by https://qubit-labs.com/ that the USA outsources 70% of its IT needs to Ukraine.
      I suppose this statistics shows either that business is trying to save more and more, or globalization is conquering the world and under its influence outsourcing services are improving and losing their ill fame.

    2. nashri on

      I agree businesses can do a lot more by thinking differently and stretching their dollar. You don’t always have to hire a full time resource. Use freelancers and outsource some of your work. Our company just launched transcription services for small businesses http://bit.ly/transcription-services4 as an inexpensive way of creating content. If you have a smart phone or a laptop or a small inexpensive recorder, you can talk, record and send us your recording. We can convert it to text, add pictures and upload to your blog or website. We can also convert your existing audio and video recordings into text and upload this repurposed material to your website. Call us. You’ll be glad you did. Thank You for allowing me to share our service.

    3. EmergencyStuff on

      We use Big Commerce for a bookstore, giftware and apparel shop and have found that the orders transfer nicely into our shipping software- so much so that we are doing order fulfillment and “logistics” as you call it, straight out of Big Commerce into UPS and USPS software packages for other Big Commerce stores. This allows us to keep our warehouse, pick-pack and ship operation going smoothly and shows the importance of having a well supported e-commerce platform that is easy to use- it gives so many options to users that “custom solutions” would charge so much more for- to build and maintain.

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