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ECommerce Workflow Management

ECommerce Workflow Management

What is ECommerce Workflow Management? Why implement it?

ECommerce workflow management is the application of principles, policies, tools, and practices to achieve better management of eCommerce operations. Workflow management in eCommerce is both a science and an art involving the operational planning of the business processes and operations in an eCommerce enterprise. The objective is to bring all the processes and operations within the ambit of planning and carrying them out accordingly. In eCommerce workflow management, the business processes and operations are mapped in the form of flowcharts or any other appropriate illustrative form with the backing of SOP manuals.

ECommerce workflow management helps businesses achieve better operational control over their operations. A few practical benefits of implementing eCommerce workflow management are pointed out below.

  • Robust inventory management – timely and accurate purchasing, stock maintenance
  • Improved order fulfilment – correct processing and packaging, timely dispatch and deliveries
  • Elevated customer experience
  • Better coordination with supply chain partners
  • Improved seller onboarding and management
  • Better operational monitoring and control
  • Opportunity for identifying better automation solutions

How YRC can help your business

Process Design and Mapping

Working in close coordination with your team, the business processes and operations of your enterprise shall be identified, redefined and mapped by our experts using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and eCommerce business process flow charts. The objective is to unequivocally establish how the business operations of your enterprise shall be carried out. Whether it is about how the orders shall be packed or how the revenue shall be remitted to the HQ for COD orders, there will be a defined workflow or SOP for every operation. Whether it is the fulfilment centres or the administration department, every process owner will remain aware of their role and operational requirements in the concerned business processes.

Process Optimisation

In process optimisation, our goal is to reinvent the best possible ways to execute the business processes and operations of your enterprise. This also includes eCommerce order processing workflow. In doing so, we will consider many factors with planned methodologies. Let us exemplify this. Sometimes, even brands like Amazon do not seem to confirm from the sellers about the availability of products. In such cases, customers place their orders only to later find their orders getting cancelled automatically and that too without citing any reason. Such lack of transparency or communication lapses is not expected of eCommerce brands or online marketplaces. Although such coordination between service providers and sellers is automated, the processes must allow for it. The software cannot be blamed for inconveniences caused to customers due to lapses in operational planning. We process-optimised workflows, we expect to deliver to your business the best possible set of operational planning.

Process Standardisation

Process standardisation becomes essential when an eCommerce enterprise operates in more than one location/division. For every such location/division, where the same business process is carried out, there cannot be differences in its execution. One such area of business where we often get to see this deviation is digital marketing. Companies often fail to maintain consistency in their efforts across platforms. If you are focusing on SEO and SMM, and letting things slide on social media marketing, achieving the overall digital marketing goals will become difficult. You may have the right strategy, but your operational planning must also allow for it. Your team working on different aspects of digital marketing must have a roadmap to follow that enables consistency in efforts.

Internal and external coordination

The ability of a process to coordinate with other processes within or outside the enterprise speaks for its effectiveness. Now for example, if customers raise complaints about glitches in the app, your IT team or IT staff should have a known process following which the issue could be moved towards redressal. You may have an internal IT team or you may have outsourced your IT maintenance. That is not material here. What is important is that you should have a defined process to solve the problem since its detection. Should your IT staff try to solve the problem internally? Who should they inform in case they fail to resolve? What information should they provide? What timelines must be followed? All these operational details are vital to moving a process forward. Our role here is to ensure that the processes we design can communicate with one another and result in smooth and timely coordination between process owners.

Process Orientation

With our eCommerce workflow management solutions, our vision is to help your business become a process-oriented enterprise. Our efforts shall be guided by the goal that every activity in your business is carried out in a planned and organised manner. Every operational detail shall be brought under the realm of operational planning. And with a well-planned operational framework in place, you can remain assured that your business operations are mapped to move on the desired tracks. This does not eliminate the need for supervising and monitoring. But, as a business owner, your involvement in routine operational affairs gets profoundly compact.

ECommerce Process Manuals

Flowcharts are one of the most convenient ways to comprehend workflows. However, workflow charts work best when combined with SOP manuals. Also, not every process could be mapped in a flowchart. Different processes have different complexity levels. On the other hand, using flowcharts make SOPs far easier to read. That is why you will often see SOP manuals, in addition to having textual explanations and images, also containing workflow charts.

Ecommerce SOPs (manuals) serve as an operational guide to employees. These manuals also simplify and reduce the need for supervision. As veterans in developing SOP-based process manuals, we have mastered the science and art of defining and mapping all types of business processes involved in the field of retail and eCommerce.

ECommerce Process Automation

As an eCommerce business owner, you have to be 100 per cent sure that you are on the right side of technology. Apart from internal operations, every buying and selling activity is dependent on the software platform you select. Also, there are strategic marketing interests involved with business operations. For example, providing better UX could be one of your marketing UVPs. This directly affects your decisions on the software technologies to be used.

By mapping and defining your eCommerce business workflows, our experts will help you in identifying the business software requirements of your eCommerce enterprise. You may find it difficult to choose, develop, or customise a software solution for your business if your business processes are not defined. Understanding the IT ramifications of business requirements requires a certain degree of expertise. But the final decisions on the software product and vendor selection shall be yours.

About Your Retail Coach (YRC)

We are a retail and eCommerce consulting brand with experience in developing business solutions for over 500 clients in 25+ verticals. As an enterprise with a scaling global presence, we endeavour to uphold world-class standards in service design and delivery. We engage professional and experienced online business consultants in our eCommerce SOP development and implementation projects.

For more on our retail and eCommerce consulting services or to have a quick conversation with one of our expert eCommerce consultants, please drop us a message.

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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.