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Businesses, especially startups, depend on external capital to fund their establishment costs and expansion projects. These investments usually come from financial institutions, other businesses, and HNI individuals. Unlike professional funding entities or venture capitalists, there are also wealthy private investors also known as angel investors. In return, these investors expect to make a good profit. They are prudent with which businesses they invest their money. The onus is on the investment-seeking businesses to convince these investors about the potential of the business ideas and projects. In doing so, a very important element is to showcase the merit of the business processes and operations. The operations of a business affect its ability to achieve the planned goals and objectives. And Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) play a crucial role in this. Let us see how SOPs come into the picture frame of business and startup funding.

Alignment between Business Processes with Business Objectives

The business goals and objectives are long-term and big-picture scenarios. The building blocks of achieving these begin at the operations level. It is necessary to align the business processes and operations with the business goals and objectives. Only then, the intended results are possible. SOPs make it possible to merge processes with objectives. SOPs define every operational activity with a precise definition of the required standards of performance and output. For example, if a brand wants to implement a no-questions-asked return policy, then customer support should not be asking questions. Customer feedback may be sought but questioning should be avoided. The element of questioning customers on returns could be eliminated from the SOPs of the return process. Knowing how a business is going to work its way out and stick to its bigger business goals is a confidence booster from an investor’s perspective. This effort should be visible in the startup pitch deck or the seed funding proposal.

Operational Accuracy and Efficiency

Investors are not only interested in the alignment of the business processes with the business objectives but also in the efficacy of the processes. Accurate and efficient processes indicate resource optimisation and cost savings in achieving the business objectives. Also, there are lesser operational mistakes. The timelines are maintained. Take the KYC process of a financial institution as an example. If the process is planned and well-defined, it is convenient for customers and employees to quickly and accurately complete the KYC requirements. If the process is not defined, the tasks may have to be repeated costing more time and money. It could also turn out to be a bad experience for the customers. SOPs ensure that everything that needs to be done in a process is defined in detail with established standards of performance and output. Investors are always more interested in businesses that operate in planned and systematic ways.

Internal Coordination

Interdepartmental conflict is not a good sign for any enterprise. It slows down work and business. As business processes often cut across functions and departments, the required internal coordination does not come by default. Overcoming this requires a deliberate effort. Processes have to be defined and mapped accordingly. The scope of duties and responsibilities of each process owner within the process must be clearly outlined. Every task owner should know the output s/he is required to generate. With SOPs, the focus is on the process and its performance. It does not matter which or how many departments get involved; the focus is always on the process. The ability to execute complex processes, as good as the simple ones, portrays a positive image of an enterprise in the eyes of potential investors.


Every investor desires their investment to multiply or enhance in value over time. This makes them prefer businesses that not just have ideas and vision but also the operational abilities to embrace growth and expansion. When businesses adopt SOPs and consistently strive to improvise them, their processes keep on becoming more mature with time. Tested and proven processes are good for replication. For instance, if the recruitment process has consistently delivered good recruits, the same process could be replicated by the company.

Proof of Concept

By nature, we all are in love with proof and evidence. Demonstrating how something works or how it will, is much more convincing than a mere play of words riding on the high horses of assumptions. Investors also expect proof of concept, demonstration, or some kind of evidence that could convince them that the business idea or project in question is going to work when it sees the light of the day. Here, we are strictly sticking to the element of operation planning. The concept of SOP, inherently, is all about detailing and mapping. There is no other side to it. When you say you are following SOPs, you are already sending strong signals of your intended operational precision.

Compliance Track Record

No investor would want to get involved with businesses that do not have a clear compliance track record. There could be many reasons for events of non-compliance but poor internal compliance processes should not be one. Having a poor compliance process indicates the lack of seriousness towards adhering to the applicable regulatory norms. Apart from the payment of fines and penalties, it hurts the goodwill of a business enterprise. If it is a listed company, the stock prices take no time to tumble down. The cuts go even sharper on social media platforms. All these adverse outcomes are not appreciated by investors. The remedy is to develop compliance processes using SOPs. It becomes possible to fix timelines, assign specific duties and responsibilities, map the necessary interdepartmental coordination, etc.

Quality Standards

Maintaining the expected quality standards is important for businesses to keep their customers or clients pleased. As long as they are pleased, the business moves. Therefore, it is of interest to investors to see whether a business has been able to maintain the quality standards in its products and services or not. If it has failed or is failing to do so, it will soon lose its market. By implementing QA and QC measures in the relevant business operations, businesses could maintain the intended quality standards. For example, when goods are received in a dark store from distributors, a quality inspection governed by SOPs could be carried out. Because this process gets defined by SOPs, there will be proper checklists, inspection procedures, mention of process owners and reporting authority, return conditions, etc.

Investors need not read the SOPs but they need to see how robust your operational planning is. They are more likely to invest where they see objectivity in action, process orientation, discipline, efficiency, an appetite for growth, and due concern for all stakeholders.

We are retail and eCommerce consultants with over 10 years of experience in delivering retail business services. We have consulted in more than 20 industries. After serving 500+ clients, today, we are a brand with a budding international presence. And as one of the globally-emerging retail consulting firms, we endeavour to maintain world-class quality standards in our service design and delivery.

Author Bio

Rupal Agarwal

Rupal Agarwal

Chief Strategy Officer

Dr. Rupal’s “Everything is possible” attitude helps achieve the impossible. Dr. Rupal Agarwal has worked with 300+ retail e-commerce brands and companies from various sectors, since 2012, to define their growth strategy, push their limits and improve performance efficiency. Rupal and her team have remarkable success stories of helping brands achieve 10X growth.

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    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.


    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 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.


    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.


    • 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.


    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!


    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 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 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.


    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 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 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.


    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.