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    Competition in the e-commerce system is rife. So is the potential for growth. Statista estimates e-commerce retail sales will grow from USD 1.3 trillion to USD 4.9 trillion from 2014 to 2021. This represents a 3-fold growth. According to Business Dot Com, the tenth largest eCommerce markets in the world  include Asian powerhouses like China and India.

    Shopify estimates 57% of online retail shoppers have purchased in the past six months from international retailers. The bad news? Cart abandonment rates have been rising from 10% in 2006 to 69% in 2018. So, while this is a growing sector, how do e-commerce companies thrive in the face of competitors like Amazon and Alibaba?

    One of the core elements of a successful e-commerce business is an SOP/ standard operating procedure.  To improve your conversion rates, you need to personalize offers, according to Gartner. But that’s not all. A Harvard Business Review study with 46K shoppers found 73% of these used multiple channels to do shopping.  Omnichannel capabilities and the capacity to handle multiple processes stems from a well-drafted and effectively implemented SOP.

    After all, the consumer has changed in a fundamental way, as expectations rise through engagement with e-commerce stores and new technologies. E-commerce buyers are looking for useful, assistive and engaging behavior from brands interacted with. Those e-commerce businesses looking for productivity, profits and success need to realize that SOPs can be the competitive differentiator to make it to the finish line and race past competitors.

    SOPs are a critical step unifying business goals approach. If SOPs are created and used regularly, incredible growth becomes a reality. The mindsets shift and the e-commerce business benefits from an unstoppable team.

    E-commerce companies without SOPs experience workflow bottlenecks. The vision for growth becomes secondary. Day to day tasks takes up team time. Rather than trying to keep up and fire-fighting, work on SOPs that create goals and strategies for your online business and get the following benefits:

    SOPs can consolidate workflows and systems, leading to clear expectations, unbeatable performance, and exceptional results.

    1. Standardize your operations

    When SOPs are used, savings in time and money accrue for not just your business, but your online customers as well. Strong and comprehensive SOPs streamline operations and standardize the workflow, leading to consistent procedures. The end result? Your e-commerce business delivers the same customer experience each and every time. The quality assurance and industry standards are adhered to. Your SOP can tell everyone how to manage operations and carry out everyday tasks in a uniform and systematic manner.

    2. Become more system dependent and less person dependent

    For any business, time is money. An e-commerce company needs to use its time even more efficiently. Routine tasks or team coverage can become time-consuming without SOPs in place. For example, if you need to follow quality checks prior to shipping the product, systematically delineating the steps involved can help to assure employee productivity and company profitability, as your business will deliver e-commerce products that are always up to the mark.

    When e-commerce SOPs are in place, team members can use the relevant SOP to step in for others. Smooth future growth is also assured. Avoid reinventing the wheel each time you hire someone new. Drive growth and fuel profits with standardized processes and workflows in place. SOPs ensure ready made manuals facilitate hand over to new hires and guide them through tasks.

    In a nutshell, become system dependent and not person-dependent. In the event of transfers, resignations, retrenchments or retirements, your team no longer has to rely on individuals when SOP manuals are in place to guide them.

    3. Improves customer satisfaction during Pre-Sales & After-Sales

    Further, SOPs are not just for business growth and practice. Navigate long, complex projects by creating SOPs that ensure customers are satisfied right from the pre-sales to the post-purchase stage. SOPs that are client-facing can build strong, lasting relationships with clients. This comprises aspects like communication plan, billing systems, project logistics, and customer expectations.

    When your SOP assures clients of quality products and services, the client will know what to expect each and every time and stay on board with your e-commerce brand for longer periods. Access high-value customers and a strong user base by working on e-commerce SOPs that enhance customer satisfaction.

    4. Increases your brand value & positioning

    For the SEO and brand positioning roadmap, SOPs are simply invaluable. To create brand value, you have to communicate unique value propositions. Your online brand must build on a stellar reputation and position itself as a market leader. SOPs promote teamwork, cohesion and brand building with clear steps on how to approach SEO and marketing. Let’s consider SEO SOPs, for example.

    In this context, search visibility rarely depends on just one department. Tasks like working on your website page require additional help from IT and content teams. Link Building includes outreach, quality content worthy of links and aspects of technical SEO as well. SEO stakeholders need to understand their roles, responsibilities and complete tasks to meet the same standards.  This is where SOPs and workflows work their magic.

    SOPs define steps to complete specific tasks for strategic success. SEO strategies and brand positioning techniques depend a lot on standard operating procedures for this very reason. This enables e-commerce businesses to maximize time and effort while reducing errors in SEO.

    Identification and implementation of  SOPs and workflows are just the beginning. Brand promotion strategies need to be monitored from end to end to assess output quality.  Processes need to deliver desired results. So, SOP outcomes need to be reviewed and workflows need to be refined, as this can impact work. Identify the correct processes and factors that slow you down. Use SOPs to find optimum solutions. Building a brand value required consistent application of SOPs and workflows.

    5. Helps to achieve a competitive edge

    In the ever competitive e-commerce industry, thanks to the internet revolution, online marketplaces are saturated and overcrowded. E-commerce ecosystems are super competitive. This enables companies to work on delivering high-quality products and services to gain the winning edge. SOPs can help here as well.

    Operations taking place in a company need to be controlled to lower defects in products. Errors reduce, and quality improves. This serves as a competitive differentiation that triggers quality improvement and customer satisfaction, generating profits in turn.

    SOPs are effective for assuring quality control, communicating process standardization and transferring skills to prevent errors. Consistency in brand building and product quality checks are assured through written SOPs that document routine activities to be followed by e-commerce firms.

    E-commerce businesses looking to provide the best for their customers and follow instructions to ensure they meet industry best practices. In this context, SOPs aggregate and simplify corporate policies, regulations, and operations.

    SOPS have established procedures to encourage a work culture where employees are competent and empowered. Regulations are followed. Best practices are implemented. In this way, errors are minimized and a competitive edge is assured.

    Concluding Thoughts

    SOPs are more than just standardized instructions for guiding employees. They are a mantra for e-commerce success, in an industry driven by innovation, disruption and the progress of new technologies. For e-commerce companies to keep up, systems, processes, and procedures must be streamlined effectively using e-commerce SOPs.

    Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay said: “communications is at the heart of e-commerce.” But to manage these communication systems, you need a flawless SOP in place, too.  Contact reputed retail SOP consultancy Your Retail Coach to draft and implement the perfect SOP for your e-commerce business, and give your business a strategic.

    In the words of the YRC founders, “Our clients had never thought that SOPs would become their competitive edge. They have reduced the operational errors and drastically reduced the negative reviews related to operational errors by 70%, for example: logistics delays, product return delays and other such operational errors.” Contact Your Retail Coach today to know how to draft SOPs that grow your e-commerce business and streamline your operations.

    To know more about “SOPs for e-commerce business”, you get in touch with YRC Expert (https://www.yourretailcoach.in/contact/)

    Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

    Get Advice for SOP for E-commerce Business

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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.