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    According to a report published on Statista, the global apparel market size is projected to grow to 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020. With robust consumer sentiment in developing economies and increased brand consciousness among consumers of these nations, the fashion apparel segment is on track to become a sunshine sector of the global economy.

    Ready to take the plunge into the sparkling world of fashion apparels? As with any business, there are no shortcuts and many of them fail, not because of lack of zeal or perseverance but because of wrong tactics. According to a report by statistic brain around 47% of retail businesses cease to exist by their 5th birthday.

    Don’t want your fashionable baby to die a premature death? Read on.

    #1. Decide the Channels for Sales

    Whether you are an E-commerce Startup, Retail Store Startup or an Apparel Manufacturing Startup first and foremost decide on the channel of sale. There are three main retail channels online, offline and Omnichannel (a combination of both online and offline channel).1 out of every 4 online shoppers shop every week and the percentage of digital buyers in the internet population stands at 47.3% now. Hence it is clear that the online buyer population is growing and they shop regularly.

    While in the good old day’s offline channels used to work like a charm, in the modern coliseum your retail gladiator won’t stand a chance if it has no online presence. Hence it is recommended that you go with an Omnichannel strategy, if due to budget constraints you can’t afford it you’ve got to have a website first. Digital presence has evolved from being a fad to an essential weapon in your marketing arsenal; it is of absolute importance that your brand has a digital presence.

    #2. Brand USP

    Every strong brand breathes on USP’S, especially in the fashion sector. People spend top dollar for a Prada, an Armani or a Zara for a reason, and that reason is their USP(unique selling proposition). A thing which separates the brand from the rest of the pack. A thing which separates the Harley’s from the motorcycles, Colgate from toothpaste, and Mcdonald’s from Burgers. Building a USP is like building your dream home, brick by brick you detail every little thing, making sure that your abode is just perfect. Similarly, you will need to build a USP for your brand or leverage one which you have built already.

    An easy way to identify your brand’s USP is to put yourself into your targeted customer’s shoes. Why should I buy from this brand? What makes this brand unique as opposed to brand X,Y,and Z? These are the questions you need to ask yourself while highlighting your brand’s USP.

    Your brand’s USP can be anything from unique designs to exotic raw-materials to competitive pricing but bear in mind that a brand without a USP in the fashion business is like a rudderless ship in the midst of Atlantic.

    Having an expert e-commerce business consultant can help your brand in identifying USP’S. When the owners of India’s famous Kasat Brand of sarees were confronted with the question, “How do I expand my clothing business?” Your Retail Coach helped KasatSarees by leveraging their trusted brand name and using it as a USP in building their online presence.

    #3. Business Plan & Budgeting

    You can sell fashion apparel with exquisite fashion sense, but for building a business you will need a detailed Business Plan and a tight leash on Budget, this is where e-commerce strategy consulting can help.

    In order to grow your fashion label, you will need great budget allocation skills, remember you can’t make money without knowing how to spend money. First and foremost know what your financial goals are clearly, eg: – Achieving breakeven in three years of operation. You must have a clear road map depicting how you will achieve this and how much money would be needed in the process. Budgeting will give you a rough idea as to how much amount of money will be required in the future, it does not have to be too rigid, as your goals evolve so does your budget allocation.

    You should be aware of your spending limits on various fronts like Purchase, Inventory, Marketing and Advertising spends and calculate your breakeven point. The first goal of any business should be to reach the breakeven point as soon as possible.

    Having the basics clear like knowing the fixed and variable costs will help you in identifying potential cost saving opportunities. A look at the monthly difference between budgeted and actual cost will give you early warning signs if your business is going downhill.

    A business plan will act as a lighthouse in rocky waters of the fashion business. It will help in communicating your business goals to your employees, investors, partners, and clients. A business plan should contain a detailed analysis of your business, which includes competitor analysis, identifying market opportunities and how do you plan to tap those opportunities.

    A well-researched business plan will help you in making an informed decision regarding your business and will give you that extra edge over the competition.

    #4. SOPs

    Business is a system which depends upon the successful operation of several interconnected smaller systems in order to function smoothly. Any system cannot function without a clear set of rules. SOPs (standard operating procedures) are those set of rules which help in the efficient functioning of your business. SOPs are applicable to every aspect of the business like production, supply, sourcing, human resource planning.

    Scarters was facing challenges in managing cash flows, inventory planning, and in utilizing the human resources in an optimum manner. Retail consultant Your Retail Coach helped the company by sorting out the mess in their Inventory. They analyzed the flow of goods, return orders, bulk order, cash flow& increasing volumes. What Scarters needed was a complete apparel brand SOP. Your Retail Coach helped design an SOP for Inventory planning which decided the minimum order quantities for each SKU detailing how much to buy and when to buy.

    Your Retail Coach helped Scarters in achieving increased profit margins from the same volumes by analyzing their cash flow management cycle which helped scarters in planning the operating expensed ensuring positive cash flow. The SOP helped scarters in optimally investing in procurement doubling the stock turnover ratio.

    Increasing the staff efficiency by 50% involved assigning clear roles & responsibilities to every staff member and linking them with the bottom line. Deployment of tools like task management software eased operational glitches and improved inter-departmental communication.

    Thus it is clear that a well-defined SOP will create

    • Increased profitability by cutting out inefficiency in work procedures.
    • Consistency in products and services leading to fewer rejections and complaints.
    • A clearly defined path to solving problems, reducing ambiguity and increasing the speed of decision making.

    #5. Pre-Launch Marketing Plan

    As they say, “Well begun is half done”. With a robust set of SOPS, you are well on track of realizing your retail dream, you will need a well designed pre-launch marketing plan which utilizes all the relevant marketing channels. You will need a sizable social media following to create buzz for your brand. Ensure that all your marketing content blogs, videos, and website have been created with a proper SEO strategy in mind. But remember do not burn the bank on pre-launch marketing you will need the money for operations, so keep a balance and optimize your resources to create the maximum impact.

    #6. Team

    Business is not a one man(or woman!) show. It requires the effort and dedication of the entire team right from production to the retail frontline staff. Every cog in your retail machine should work in harmony so that the machine churns out a profit. In order for this to happen, you need to select the proper team and give suitable tasks to each team member according to their strengths.Right team members at the wrong places sink businesses. I mean Michael Phelps cannot win the 100-meter sprint, can he?

    Having helped businesses like Raymond, Aditya Birla Grasim, Scarters, The Kurti Company, Kasatsarees and many more in achieving their respective targets. We understand that every business is different, and hence we believe in crafting the perfect SOP only after analyzing the needs of the client only after a detailed discussion with the client.

     

    YourRetailCoach provides SOP, Market Research and Business Plan consulting. To connect, you can drop a mail at [email protected] or call at +91-9860-426-700.

    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

     

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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.