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    COVID-19 has jolted businesses around the world. For most businesses, being in a shutdown mode for an extended and unknown period of time has coerced them to reconsider their business models. Businesses that were reliant on offline channels suffered huge losses during the lockdown period and pushed many of them on the brink of extinction.

    Going digital is the way forward in the post-COVID era and this blog shall highlight what it takes to create a digital business or digital company.

    1. Digital mindset

    According to a McKinsey report, we have jumped 5 years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a span of 8 weeks.

    More and more consumers are shifting to digital shopping. This is particularly evident since April 2020. Many previously apprehensive consumers are now opting for online purchases especially for essentials like grocery and medical items. This tectonic shift in the consumer mindset is going to give a major thrust to eCommerce.

    The same phenomenon is also visible on the business front. In India, automobile companies like Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Renault, Nisan, and MG Motor have intensified their online selling efforts. This is a never-before-seen trend. Patanjali Ayurveda has gone digital by announcing a partnership with eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and others.

    Clearly, the mindset of consumers and businesses is giving way to digital commerce.

    The post-COVID-19 era up till now can be divided into three phases:

    • The March Phase – when everyone was confused
    • The April Phase- unprepared to go digital
    • The May Phase- started the digital journey

    A critical question to ask today is whether you are in the March phase, the April phase or the May phase.

    Besides, there are two grave mistakes that entrepreneurs and businessmen who are new to the digital ways of doing business generally end up making.

    Trial and error:

    The first mistake to avoid in digital business development is the trial and error approach. Many think they can identify the routes to digital success through trial and error. Businesses may not get a second chance to prove their mettle in the digital world as the scope of competition here is fierce and wide. Trial and error approach could be time-consuming or even risky for business.

    Treating digital as secondary:

    Another common mistake that SME digital businesses make is treating their digital business as secondary. Going digital is foundational in many respects. Committing and investing the necessary time, money, and manpower skills are critical for building the foundation of a digital business ecosystem right.

    According to Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, the green hat is for ideas. Today is the time that you don the green hat – to think out of the box and unleash your creativity to find ways to take your business online.

    2. Digital strategy

    Whether it is going to be a startup digital or an existing enterprise considering going digital, crafting the right digital strategy is the foremost thing to do.

    The Niche:

    A niche is something that differentiates you from your competitors; an area where you excel and stand out as a service/product provider. The right niche acts like a magnet – customers come to you instead of you going after them.

    Finding your niche is one of the most important steps that you need take to achieve digital success because unlike in a traditional business where you get many opportunities to establish communication with your customers at various physical touchpoints, but in digital business, it is what you display on your website/app, digital marketing campaigns and activities on social media and search engines, etc. that will determine your brand positioning and uniqueness.

    By establishing and effectively presenting your business niche, you will be able to attract the right audience in the digital platforms and drive up the conversion rate among your visitors. As a digital marketing solutions provider, we understand that many businesses do not focus on the role of the niche in their digital strategy.

    There is a simple three-point checklist to identify your niche:

    3-point checklist

    • The industry you are into (e.g. fashion)
    • Business within your industry (e.g. T-shirts)
    • The audience you wish to sell (e.g. teenagers)

    Once you are clear about your niche, your digital strategy can be made more effective. You may also consider using the services of a digital business strategist here.

    3. Digital sales

    Creating a digital business is much more than building a website or an app or creating business pages on Facebook, Instagram, etc. or just getting listed on a marketplace platform. What you will need here is a holistic and systematic approach.

    You will have to take a broader perspective of the sales channels to figure out the best options for your business. If you are a B2C product business, then your options are to start your own web/app and/or go through marketplace platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. Similarly, for B2B product businesses also there are various marketplace platforms like Amazon Business, Indiamart, Udaan, etc. If you are a service provider, you will find many marketplace platforms depending upon your services (OYO, Upwork, Naukri, Swiggy, etc.). For any digital business, the option of having your own sales channel (via website/app) is always there. A third option is to go for digital partnerships or vertical collaborations with non-competing partners.

    But an important consideration at this juncture would be – what channel(s) should you pick?

    Short-term Approach (Proof of Concept): You can start your digital journey through a marketplace platform to gain feedback and insights on digital sales and the performance of your products. This will help you gauge the waters if you are contemplating building your own sales channel.

    Long-term Approach (Invest): Take this approach when your products have performed well in the online marketplaces. This is where you augment your digital strategy and build your digital sales channel.

    4. Digital marketing

    Before you start your digital marketing journey, the first question to ask is what type of marketing you are following. These are three popular types of marketing channels which businesses follow:

    • Traditional – newspaper ads, radio ads, hoardings and pamphlets, etc.p
    • Conventional – cold calling, on-field marketing, SMS marketing, etc.
    • Digital – Social Media, SEO, and video marketing, etc.

    The second question you should be asking is where your audience/customers are? As we all know today’s consumers are spending most of their time on smartphones and the internet. If a majority of your target audience is spending a significant chunk of their time on digital platforms or are constantly connected to digital platforms, then that is where you should be focusing your advertising and other promotional efforts.

    Once it is clear that you should be focusing on digital marketing, the third pertinent question should be – how do you maximize your ROI from digital marketing? You will need to figure out the 5W’s to define your customer segment and narrow down the focus of your efforts to have cost-effective digital marketing on one hand and strive for better ROI on the other:

    • Who is your audience?
    • Where can you find them?
    • What do they do?
    • Why will they come to you?
    • When will they buy it?

    Once you have identified your target customers, then the next step is to engage them with your brand through good quality content. The content can be in the form of photos, videos, animations, illustrations, text, etc. In the ambit of digital marketing, you can use the following ways to reach out to your target audience:

    • Social Media Marketing
    • SEO
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • Email, videos, etc.

    5. Digital operations

    Now comes the operations part. There are various aspects involved in operating a digital business. In other words, how the wheels of digital will work in your business. These digital operations will include:

    • Website management
    • Managing social media pages
    • Content management
    • Digital marketing campaigns
    • Robust IT system (ERPs, CRM, order fulfilment, etc.)
    • Logistic vendors (distribution, delivery, logistics, etc.)

    If you choose to work with any marketplace platform, then a major part of your operations are addressed by them (like software/web/app and logistics). Working with marketplace platforms takes off a majority of the operational burden. But once a business decides to go with its own channel, these operations will have to be absorbed.

    Today, we – as both customers and businesses are majorly drifting towards digital commerce. The on-going pandemic situation has only hastened this process. So, as businessmen, we cannot afford to ignore this digital embrace as something secondary in business. From strategy to operations, we must know what it takes to have a good digital business architecture.

     

    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.