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    In a vast country like ours, population distribution is highly dispersed. The small towns, which include the class IV & V towns, constitute more than 10% of the urban population and close to 50% of the total number of towns. In terms of numbers, the total population in small towns roughly stands at 3.77 crores spread over approximately 4000 town locations. The numbers itself speak how vast and promising these small towns collectively stand as a market segment. These small towns continue to grow on various critical parameters which are vital for business – health, education, infrastructure, internet penetration, mobile phone usage, computer literacy, uniform tax structure and so on. Without specific market research and studies, it would be naïve to assume that these small towns do not possess any favourable platform or the statistics for the conduct of business. From an entrepreneur’s perspective, there could be a host of possible business opportunities. [(1), (2)] Here is a list of small business ideas for small towns that have the potential to make it big in coming years.

    1. Travel & Tourism

    Although it sounds like an old business idea traveling never gets old. Thousands of people from every town and city, for at least once in a year, travel with their families and friends to different parts of the country or even abroad. These could be annual family trips, adventure trips with friends, educational or business trips, pilgrimages, honeymoon destinations, travel enthusiasts and so on. The improved connectivity (road, rail and air) between villages, towns and cities has significantly brought down the perceptive barriers of long-distance traveling and time-consuming journeys. The increasing competition in this sector is an indication of its business prospect. Full range of services can include ticket and hotel booking, organizing destination-based tours, pick-up and drop facility, adventure camps, mountaineering and trekking trips and so on. Present day e-commerce and communication technologies provide an easy and convenient platform for the customers to explore and avail these services. However, the real challenge in this sector is creating a strong USP amidst stiff competition from national brands.

    Thousands of people from every town and city, for at least once in a year, travel with their families and friends to different parts of the country or even abroad.

    1. Departmental Store

    Over the last decade or so, departmental stores have edged past the old-fashioned grocery stores. Customers save a lot of time and effort with a one-stop shopping destination. Secondly, in departmental stores, customers can take their time to pick their products from a wide range of brands available in different quantity packs according to their preferences and priorities. Thirdly, because of the organized merchandising in departmental stores, it is easier for customers to pick their products even if they are not carrying a shopping list. While departmental stores are already very popular in the big cities and towns, it has begun to pick up momentum in the small towns. With increasing popularity and preference for departmental stores over grocery stores as a shopping destination for monthly household needs, departmental stores offer a promising business opportunity for entrepreneurs in the small towns.

    With increasing popularity and preference for departmental stores over grocery stores as a shopping destination for monthly household needs, departmental stores offer a promising business opportunity for entrepreneurs in the small towns.

    1. Educational Coaching Centre

    Education continues to be a booming sector. Many students travel to different education hubs of the country to stay there and prepare for various competitive examinations like engineering, medical, civil services and management to have access to competitive exam-oriented study centres. With the demographics in support and increasing competition, this sector is only growing at a phenomenal rate. This can be an expensive process for parents and guardians along with sending their wards to a different city away from the care and comfort of their homes and convenience of their hometown. While this has resulted in many popular coaching centres of national repute spreading out to several small towns and cities, it also is an indication of the presence of a prospective market segment in these places. One of the key requirements for establishing a strong brand name for an institute is the superlative performance of the students being coached by that Institute in various competitive exams and this invariably necessitates recruitment of competent and experienced teaching staff and a suitable environment and infrastructure for study.

    Many students travel to different education hubs of the country to stay there and prepare for various competitive examinations like engineering, medical, civil services and management to have access to competitive exam-oriented study centres.

    1. Garden and Lawn Care

    Garden is a space-consuming luxury in metropolitan and other big cities limited only to a few and for the rest; gardening is restricted to flower pots in balconies. However, in small towns, the situation is better in terms of availability of space for gardens and lawns in residences. At the same time, not many people possess professional skills for managing their gardens and lawns. Gardening and lawn services are often rendered by local mail or gardener. It is not yet a very popular business in the organized and professional format making it a potential business opportunity to be explored. The requirements for a business in this field include skilled manpower, gardening and lawn care tools and accessories, a collection of various types of lawn grasses, access to a variety of seeds and saplings of plants and flowers. The crucial considerations in this field are the geographical and climatic conditions.

    It is not yet a very popular business in the organized and professional format making it a potential business opportunity to be explored

    1. Electronics & Electrical Appliances Store

    Electronic and electrical appliances like refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, microwaves, smartphones, televisions, desktop computers and laptops, printers etc. are products which make life a whole lot easier, convenient and fun. With an expanding consumer market and rising disposable income, the demand for these products is always on the rise and hence this business can prove to be one of the unique business ideas for small towns. This is especially true for small towns where markets have started to open up for consumer electronics and electrical appliances. It is an appropriate time for entrepreneurs in small towns to explore business opportunities in this product segment and capture the market before competition sets in. Logistics is a critical area in this business especially in small towns where the distance factor may cause time lags in the order and delivery process of goods from the companies’ distributors and may necessitate maintaining higher reorder levels and additional storage space.

    It is an appropriate time for entrepreneurs in small towns to explore business opportunities in this product segment and capture the market before competition sets in.

    There could be plenty of business opportunities available in small towns than the ones described above. The key is to foresee the specific problems and needs of the customers and the markets and come up with a solution that could be profitably delivered. With professional help or guidance in retail business management from start-up business consultants, entrepreneurs in small towns can build a solid start-up business plan for their retail business or even brainstorm innovative retail business ideas.

    The key is to foresee the specific problems and needs of the customers and the markets and come up with a solution that could be profitably delivered

    YRC is an “Expert Service Division” of Mind-A-Mend Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

    YRC Related Articles: How to Write SOPs for Marketing?, 6 Ways To Grow Your Business, How to Start a Retail Business in India, Business Expansion Plan for Small Entrepreneurs, Six Steps to Writing a Great SOP for Retail, How to write SOPs for an Apparel Brand?, How to Develop SOPs for Quick Service Restaurant?, How to write SOPs for Furniture Showroom

    Author Bio

    Rupal Agarwal

    Chief Strategy Officer

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      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.