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    E-commerce titans like Amazon are doing so well along with e-commerce brands and sellers associated with them. But in a saturated and over-competitive marketplace, an e-commerce brand needs more than just an online retail platform to thrive. If customers are faced with online e-commerce sellers or brands who cannot understand what they want, and product value is not clear, businesses cannot succeed in the competitive online marketplace.

    But solving the puzzle is not about fitting in the pieces. Rather, it is about seeing the bigger picture. So, what is the secret sauce for e-commerce brands that succeed? Let’s see the essential ingredients that enable leading brands and sellers online to bring value to the table for consumers:

    #1 Product USP

    Being a well-known, trusted supplier or seller necessitates upholding standards consistently across the board. For continued brand building, and sustainable growth, products must have a unique selling point that confers a competitive advantage to your business. The product USP needs to focus on differentiating the brand from others. The product must be salable, different, unique and tailored to meet customer needs, if it has to thrive in a competitive and overcrowded e-commerce space.

    #2 Branding

    Branding is at the core of every e-commerce player’s identity. Big need not always be beautiful. To find out how to play your brand identity to your advantage, you need branding strategies that grow your business. Whether you want to be a niche brand or a popular one, the focus is always on values and missions that seek to motivate buyers and inspire them to make purchases. Brands that have not mastered the art of aging well lack a clear mission and follow old-school strategies

    Customers have assumptionsabout a brand’s identity because of interactions. You don’t get a second chance to make a great first or lasting impression. Online reviews and personal recommendations can generate the buzz for a successful e-commerce brand to promote instant brand recognition and recall.

    In the digital era, competition is not just about the shop around the corner. The digital marketplace has revolutionized the way brands capture market share worldwide. The entire point of competitive differentiation is to build a compelling brand and a powerful narrative.

    Great brand building amplifies the brand’s voice. If e-commerce players lacks a game-changing brand identity at its core, they will struggle to reach target audiences. Chinks in the brand’s armor can be magnified in a saturated and competitive online marketplace. Brand mentions, and online reputation management serve as important metrics for e-commerce sellers to succeed

    #3 Pricing

    Not everything that counts may be counted, and not everything that may be counted counts.
    Scientist and Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein

    How brands are priced depends on their positioning. The brand may be elite and associated with luxury and costly products. On the other hand, an affordable brand may offer budget-friendly products and services. Consider the difference between Nike and Bata footwear and you’ll know what we are talking about!

    Customers can compare prices across brands in seconds. There’s a big difference between being the cheap option and offering immense value for money. Various pricing strategies have been deployed to get to the sweet spot. It also depends on the market and products priced. Deep discounts remain the domain of hardcore e-commerce companies. Another common pricing strategy is keystone pricing.

    This involves just increasing wholesale prices 2X times to gain a neat profit margin and yet offer affordable prices to customers. Striking the balance means understanding which price is right, neither too high or low for an e-commerce brand to grow. Psychological pricing, discount prices, competitive or value-based pricing remain the different pricing models for e-commerce brands out there.

    For smooth sailing, e-commerce brands also need to consider shipping costs and how to sweeten the deal for customers. Free or low-cost shipping remains a powerful marketing edge for e-commerce brands. After all, the amount an average customer spends on your e-commerce product determines the money the brand will make! The more online customers purchase during each and every visit, the more valuable they are.

    A 2012 Deloitte study found 71% of holiday shoppers preferred retailer with free shipping. For orders above a certain value, most e-commerce brands that are successful offer free shipping. So the right price is not just about the price tag. It’s also about creating value for customers.

    #4 SOPs

    Basically, every e-commerce brand is based on processes that must offer intended results. Improving business systems through SOPs/Standard operating procedures offers the best results. It’s as simple as this. So what does an SOP do for an e-commerce brand? Here are the common benefits:

    • Customer satisfaction will increase service due to implementation of SOPs.
    • Further, problem areas can be identified and issues can be eliminated or mitigated.
    • For e-commerce brands, bad reviews reflecting on product or service concerns can seriously dent the business. SOPs avert this situation from developing.
    • Have more focus and energy for enhanced productivity.
    • Make fewer errors and fix mistakes quickly and permanently.

    Nothing is constant, but change, and SOPs can help your online business to keep up. There’s a reason why successful fast food retailer McDonald’s has an SOP for making the Big Mac. When SOPs are regularly reviewed, they can help your brand to streamline operations and function well as a team.

    Having SOPs in place ensures the success of your brand does not rely on you alone. SOPs increase growth and profits. They also make team building far easier and reduce turnover. SOPs ensure consistent execution besides reducing errors

    Mitigate risk and the need for firefighting by having steps in place to respond to every work procedure, process and situation. Quick references for performing functions and delineating guidelines, SOPs are essential for e-commerce sellers and brands to succeed. Setting standards creates a level playing field and ensures a cohesive work culture.

    SOPs also define procedures and policies to comply with regulatory measures. They are the backbone of e-commerce brands that believe in following industry best practices. SOPs record incidents, failures, mistakes and successes. They enable e-commerce and online retail sellers to take a proactive approach towards implementing procedures and policies.

    #5 Digital Marketing

    Creating a powerful brand means knowing not just what you stand for, but also what you don’t.

    A clear playing field involves game-changing digital marketing strategies. Creative approaches to a product bundle require marketing strategies that showcase your brand at its best. According to Content Marketing Institute/CMI, 42% of B2C content marketing experts are concerned with content.Content remains king, but for e-commerce marketers, the forms are changing. Today, it’s all about digital content that transcends barriers and distances. Short videos, social media channels and influencer marketing are shaping e-commerce success in unprecedented ways.

    Final Word

    If you make a client unhappy, your customer won’t tell just 5 friends, but instead tell 5000!:This quote by e-commerce titan Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just about sums it up. For e-commerce brands to succeed, following standards is absolutely essential for effective online reputation management. SOPs can be the crucial competitive advantage your ecommerce business needs to make that critical difference where it matters most.

    YRC is a Management Consulting Company with head office in Pune, India. We work across 03 verticals, Startup, SME & Corporates. Our expertise lies in developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for companies and helping them organize and expand. We have a cumulative experience of more than 15 years. Our holistic approach helps us to devise the best of the management practices for the organization.

    PR Source from: https://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press_release/462779/5-factors-leading-to-a-successful-e-commerce-brand

     

    PROCESS AUTOMATION

    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

    VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

    DIGITAL MARKETING

    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

    IT INTEGRATION

    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

    WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

     

    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

    UI & UX DESIGNING

    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

    SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

    PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

    BRANDING

    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

    ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

    CRITICAL PATHWAY

    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

    BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.