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    With the rise in the number of online businesses, competition in the eCommerce market has also intensified proportionately.  There are both large businesses and solo entrepreneurs competing with your brand, and standing out is getting increasingly challenging.

    Building a customer base requires more than just having the right product. Customers are now looking for a personal touch and a connection with the brands they choose to buy from. Once a brand connects with them, they will share the experiences with their friends and social circles and this is one of the strongest ways in which a brand’s customer base widens.

    To develop this personal connection, your brand needs to carve its niche in the market. Let us discuss the areas that your business could strengthen to stay ahead in the eCommerce race and stand out in the crowd.

    Right positioning

    Positioning is a core concept in marketing that says that you need to identify your demographics and market your product in accordance with the target audience. There have been many innovative products that have failed terribly in the market because of wrong positioning.

    For instance, Tata Motors launched the Nano and positioned it as the car that anyone with a relatively smaller budget could afford. This gave people the impression that Nano was an inexpensive car and it would reflect poorly on their social status. Hence, a good budget car which could have sold like hot cakes in the Indian market failed to garner much traction. So, if a business needs to set itself apart, it needs to communicate its value proposition effectively to its target audience.

    Of course, segmenting comes before targeting and positioning, wherein you divide the market based on demographics such as income, gender, education, occupation, age, etc. Once the market segments are classified, it gets easier to identify and define your target market and then devise the positioning strategy.

    A good example here would be boohoo.com who has positioned itself as a global fashion brand for girls.

    Provide value that is difficult to imitate and keep improvising

    A customer buys a product for the intrinsic value that it is perceived to have, or the real benefits that it offers, and not just only because of the inherent product attributes. Your brand needs to provide visibly unique or exclusive benefits for it to be recognized among the competitors. It’s more challenging to find unique selling points today as competitors tend to replicate very quickly. Imitation of products/services in markets spreads faster than office grapevine.

    You need to dig deep to find an untouched niche in creating an eCommerce USP and constantly innovate to stay ahead of the competition. For instance, there are several e-stores that provide custom-tailoring but some bespoke labels offer doorstep tailoring services which give customers superior convenience.

    Offer more than just products

    It is possible that the product you’re selling has many close substitutes or competitors. For customers to choose your product above the others, you need to provide something additional that appeals to them. For instance, it could be a handcrafted element, natural ingredients, extended warranty, money-back guarantee, express shipping, cashback, or discount and offers. A popular example is Body Shop which offers skincare, cosmetics and hair care products that are cruelty-free and 100% vegetarian. There are tons of cosmetic brands but only a handful offer such features that could connect personally with the customers.

    Elevate the element of service

    Customer service in the eCommerce business has evolved to be a crucial aspect of brand-building and customer interaction. If your brand has better customer support in terms of complaint redressal, returns and refunds, and after-sales services, it is definitely going to ring the right bells among customers. This is especially true for dealers and resellers dealing in homogenous products and services.

    Invest in user-friendly website/app design and UX

    Attractive and soothing display, easy search options, easy navigation and suggestions based on customer preferences and purchase/interest history are ways in which you could enhance customer experience at your eCommerce platform. This is a strong focus area because eCommerce platforms, by default, lack at delivering a personal touch and hence, having an interactive website could help make the browsing and buying experience easier and user-friendly for customers. The flexibility offered in payment solutions for eCommerce transactions is another sensitive area that cannot be overlooked.

    A customer-oriented website/app is definitely going to outshine the competition. Special features such order status updates, push notifications, delivery tracking, process transparency, flexibilities in editing orders, etc. are highly appreciated by customers and these have quite become the norm.

    Promoting it right

    You might be selling the best product at the best prices, but if you don’t promote it right, it will be less likely to get customers. In e-commerce, promotion plays a big role as you don’t have a physical storefront and merchandising to attract customers. You need to actively try to get the word out through marketing and advertising techniques. You can also use the power of social media in eCommerce to spread awareness about your brand and expand your customer base.

    Search Engine Optimization is another brilliant technique under the ambit of digital marketing in eCommerce that can help your brand perform better with search engines’ search results. If your website is optimized for search engines, it will show up among the topmost results when people search for products or services related to your brand.

    Invest in the future

    Many entrepreneurs go wrong when it comes to managing their funds and efforts. They tend to prioritize earning a little instantly, even if it means forgoing an exponential income earning potential later. Getting into any eCommerce business today means that you are already a little late, chances are that someone is already doing the same business or shall do it very soon.

    What you need to do to stand out from the rest is look 5 or 10 years down the lane. Think big, think about the future. Investing in marketing and building the right clientele may not get you to break even instantly but in the long run, these efforts and investments will offer exponential potential and help you squash the competition.

    It is clear that the eCommerce market is flooded with players, but online retail has magnanimous potential and room for new (read that innovative) sellers. So, if you have a business idea, you will need to first set it on the right track. Starting out your eCommerce venture or even sustaining your existing one can be a tough job. You can get in touch with specialized retail eCommerce consultants who can help you devise an effective positioning strategy, formulate a growth plan and take your retail business online. Because when you are on the right track in terms of planning and execution, growth and success in business are closer than you might think.

    About us

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a retail consulting and outsourcing company in India offering a wide range of services in retail offline, retail eCommerce and retail omnichannel catering to a multitude of industries.

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) helps retailers and retail enterprises set up their eCommerce business right from planning (eCommerce business plan) to implementation. Our experience and expertise in both offline and online retail channels will help businesses overcome challenges in adopting and running the eCommerce route.

    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.