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E-commerce Business Operations

At present, the e-commerce industry is like a bonanza, with everyone wanting a piece of the e-commerce pie. In rudimentary terms, e-commerce uses technology to buy goods and services via various platforms. To get your business ground up in a productive manner, leveraging a notable consulting firm like YRC is the best course.

YRC has a team of consultants who provide bespoke solutions irrespective of the e-commerce business models that your organisation may have, whether it is B2C (Business-to-Consumer), B2B (Business-to-Business), C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer), or C2B (Consumer-to-Business).

Operational plan for e-commerce business

The core of an effective e-commerce business operation is the presence of a solid operational plan. An operational plan delineates the work to be done by all departments on a micro-level. The right operational strategy maps out the process of order fulfilment, timely shipping on a domestic and global scale while also ensuring inventory management to meet the customers’ demands. YRC has robust industry experience in devising operational plans for e-commerce businesses that will result in your business working like a well-oiled machine without compromising organisations capitalised ultimately meeting the revenue goals. The key components mentioned below form the foundation of an operational plan.

Operations management for e-commerce businesses:

Operations management for an e-commerce business is what sets the tone for its sustainability and success. An e-commerce business is invariably perceived to have a low cost of running than a brick-and-mortar store. Principally, it would be correct given that having a digital business reduces manpower and overhead expenses. Nevertheless, internet commerce stays true to the standard operations process of any business, where the bottom-line targets the potential customer, retains them and generates profits. YRC’s high calibre team assists in building a relevant business plan after undertaking thorough research and provides strategies to achieve business growth and profit.

Building Teams

A brilliant idea or service is nothing without a suitable team of people to execute it. YRC’s team provides intervention by emphasising that the people brought on board should be experienced professionals with insight towards the ideation and the industry while also being capable of steering the product and company forward.

Joining hands with like-minded people and working towards a common goal is what will take your e-commerce business to the next level. Building a team involves not just having an elite leadership but hiring across the board, where the organisation’s vision percolates to all the employees. Our operational planning team develops a befitting operational plan that states the tasks to be performed and sets the yardstick for the team, and the staff, in turn, works on following through with the plan, leading to a symbiotic relationship.

Returns & Refund Management

Returns management is a practice in the e-commerce industry in which customers can return a purchased product. It includes product collection from the customer, checking the returned or exchanged item, and replenishing the stock. Returns management system involves customer interaction and organisation of the inventory.

Refund management refers to the terms and conditions for returning a product and/ or refund of the same, as applicable. Our consultants model a seamless returns and refund procedure, which helps in winning major points in customer loyalty and retention, leading to continued business.

YRC’s able team helps recommend a system for tracking product deliveries and returns so that storage space in warehouses and product stock is optimally maintained.

Company structure

Company structure, simply put, is the organisation structure. It determines the tasks to be performed, the departments and roles filled, and the flow of information within the organisation.

Company structures are subjective in that they vary depending upon the nature of the business and the product offering. Our operational planning professionals provide their expertise, enabling you to make the right decision regarding factors like which commonly used e-commerce business structure would be judicious for you; functional structure, divisional structure, matrix structure, or hybrid structure.

Typically e-commerce businesses have the following roles; e-commerce head, digital marketing manager, IT manager, web developer, inventory and logistics manager, finance and accounting manager, customer service associates. YRC’s experts provide their unbiased opinion on what type of talent will be well suited for your business and aid in employing specialists.

Optimising COGS

COGS or Cost of Goods Sold refers to the expenses incurred to produce a particular good and the amount of revenue generated by its sale. This is a metric used by organisations as an indicator of the product’s profits and the inventory in stock. YRC’s team provides analytics and suggests processes where COGS is an effective method to check the e-commerce organization’s financial health, track inventory and expenses.

COGS determines ways to fully capitalise on the e-commerce business operations. The below-mentioned factors will keep the COGSs in check :

– Using technology and various software for prompt and effective collection of data. Automation reduces the margin of error and guarantees timely delivery.

– Keeping control of the cost of raw materials without affecting the quality of the end product is a vital part of COGS.

– Rebates from the supplier, basis the number of raw materials bought. Bulk material bought generally results in markdown prices.

Pricing

There is a misnomer that the lowest pricing of a product can achieve maximum sales. After researching the competitor’s price points, product cost, the intended revenue margin, the potential consumer, and the product/service’s distinguishing features, a pricing strategy has to be arrived at. Market leaders adopt many other pricing schemes in the online space like skim pricing, charm pricing, penetration pricing, loss-leader pricing, but you have to eventually decide what is most favourable for your company. Like many things in e-commerce business operations, a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to the pricing strategy. YRC’s operational planning guides establish a distinct pricing strategy based on the market and the business goals which work well for your corporation.

Managing Customer Support

Customer support is a part of customer service management, and essentially it involves a consumer buying a product and interfacing with an employee of the same company. In e-commerce operations, it includes the customer support provided through the purchasers’ purchase lifecycle. This is one area that is often ignored by digital businesses, which ends up negatively impacting them. Niche businesses tend to score over others in terms of personalised customer service by aptly catering to the buyer’s needs.

YRC’s team of cherry-picked advisers come up with a systematic and well-thought-out customer service management strategy to meet your e-commerce company’s need. They effectuate a system where customer interaction with support representatives positively influences customer satisfaction, getting continued business from existing customers, and getting new business through word-of-mouth marketing.

DIY Fulfilment

E-commerce fulfilment is the process of orders being packed, shipped, and delivered to the customer. E-commerce fulfilment involves the storage of the inventory in fulfilment centres, picking and packing of orders, and logistics. The product’s delivery time and shipping charges are two significant parts of a customer’s shopping experience, they determine whether a customer will ever shop again with your brand.

The order fulfilment operation starts post-purchase made by the shopper. This fulfilment process is relevant to Business-to-Consumer (B2C), where orders are shipped to individuals and Business-to-Business (B2B), organisations capitalise where orders are shipped to dealers. Our consultants direct you towards selecting the right alternative, whether to use a third-party logistics provider or drop shipping or outsource the fulfilment, depending on the stage of the business and the most cost-beneficial option.

Managing Inventory

Inventory management is the process of ordering and warehousing the products. It includes all aspects from the raw material to finished goods. YRC’s team advises the ideal process to have an organised inventory flow, and this enables to keep track of stock at all times and be aware of the warehousing space. By predicting the business and the customers, e-commerce businesses can choose between dropshipping or tying up with merchant partners.

Scaling Globally

To conquer the global market, operational planning becomes the literal backbone of the e-commerce business. There are various attributes: the language, the market, the currency, local laws, overseas shipping and logistics, and international competition, which will differ from the home base of operations. In this scenario, YRC’s team does in-depth groundwork that gives the e-commerce business owners the necessary data and strategies that equip them to make prudent decisions. They also counsel the business that it serves well for brands to remain true to their values and unique selling propositions to deliver the same exclusive experience to their international customers.

If you are looking for a reputed consulting partner to traverse through your business without potential obstacles and solve problems expeditiously, reach out to YRC. YRC provides immeasurable support to advance your e-commerce business operations while meeting your organisation’s vision by facilitating you to have the right mix of people, processes, and technology, leading to your brand being unbeaten.

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We work only for Visionaries.

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.