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    One of the foundational aims of any businesses employing processes to create products or services is consistency. This can be hindered by members of a team producing different outcomes according to their perspectives and abilities. Such a scenario is neither desirable nor sustainable for business to function successfully and customers would be put-off, switch over or walk away due to the inability to experience consistency in a product or service.

    To overcome this, businesses are known to employ SOPs, wherein every stage of a task is broken down and enumerated in detail and documented as a process manual to be followed by a team with a common purpose. This exercise ensures consistency within the process and the outcome that follows. Successful businesses are known to follow SOPs allowing them to standardize and formalize processes to improve productivity, reduce errors and save on costs. We at YRC are great proponents of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and come with years of experience at developing and implementing them. 

    What are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?

    This can be termed as a set of documented procedures that a company puts in place to ensure products and services are delivered each time with the same consistency. SOPs are known to align with existing industry regulations, applicable laws and even operational & quality standards set forth by the company.

    Reasons Demonstrating SOPs Reduce Cost & Increase Productivity

    Now that we understand SOPs let’s look at how they are able to reduce costs and increase productivity.

    • Save on Employee Training:

      When a new employee joins the company, he is expected to be provided training about the process he/ she is going to be involved with. But with SOPs in place, there would be minimal need for face-to-face training as a well-written SOP tends to be articulate with the inclusion of visual elements. The employee can get acclimatized to the process by himself thus saving the company of the costs associated with training. Such a seamless practice also helps in improving productivity as the employee always has the option of going back to the SOP in case he/ she is doubtful to master the process in the long run. For example, a well defined & effective SOP can save on the 2.1 – 2.4% of the company’s budget set aside for classroom training.

    • Improves Adherence to Regulations:

      There are industries that are highly regulated and a deviation from set standards can be damaging financially and reputation-wise. To prevent such deviations SOPs can be written with built-in stipulations that prevent any deviations from occurring in the first place, thereby leaving no room for non-compliance. This, in the long run, can bring in enormous savings that could be lost on potential litigations and compensations to be paid out.

    • Reduces the Risk of Accidents:

      Certain industries are accident-prone by nature and incorporating safety guidelines within the SOP will allow companies to offer a safe working environment for its workers. By creating safe work areas, a company stands to benefit as employees would not get distracted by safety concerns and productivity would improve naturally. Besides, with less or no accidents a company does not lose out financially from the costs arising from the aftermath of an accident. A company with enough precautions in place for accidents offers its employees great scope to increase productivity.

    • Identifies Areas of Improvement:

      By the consistent use of SOPs in all processes, there is a good chance of employees coming forward with improvements related to a critical process. With the comprehensive understanding of the process and its nuances, an employee would be the most likely candidate to suggest improvement associated with a process.  In the long-term, this can translate to savings in terms of time and money and can be directly attributed to improvements in productivity.

    • Ensures Business Continuity:

      Every business would have contingency plans to cover for the absence of an employee is a critical process. This backup employee would be well served with the availability of SOPs that ensures the continuity of the process. Such measures prevent overall productivity from going down and avoid potential losses that might be caused due to an absent employee. Thus, an SOP is a critical component in ensuring businesses run smoothly by overcoming disruptions.

    • Employee Accountability:

      Once an SOP is in place, employees know it by themselves what is expected out of them. By laying down the expectations clearly in an SOP, you also remind the workforce that they are being monitored for their performance with potential incentives if they perform well. This makes SOP an integral catalyst that motivates employees to perform to their optimum best, thereby improving productivity. Research shows that as many as 35-55% of employees tend to avoid responsibility on an average and this behaviour tends to cost companies dearly. Such behaviour can be mitigated with SOPs 

    • Standardizes Operations:

      SOP documentation helps in standardizing operations to ensure accuracy and predictability because it guarantees a similar outcome each time for a repeated process. Over time, this document can serve as the underlying premise to delegate, outsource or automate the entire process to ensure an increase in productivity. Such an immediate switchover is not possible without breaking down the entire process into manageable steps with an SOP. Thus SOP can also be the basis for the company to scale up its operations manifold without second thoughts.

    • Saves Valuable Time:

      Creation of an SOP always involves a competent stakeholder who knows the process inside out. Such a person incorporates his mastery over the process to create an SOP that gets the job done in the fastest possible time. An SOP then becomes a standard document that essentially supports an employee to improve their productivity with minimal intervention from the supervising staff. For instance, by implementing 157 SOPs a food manufacturer was able to put in place four packaging lines at the same time which otherwise would have been a daunting task considering they worked in three shifts.  

    • Performance Management:

      By establishing an SOP you are banishing the guesswork associated with employee performance. In other words, without an SOP, gauging work performance is a matter of opinion without any objectivity. However, with SOPs in place, managers will have clear insights into successes and deficiencies associated with employee performance. This gets communicated to employees at appropriate forums backed by sound advice encouraging them to improve on their current productivity.

    Conclusion

    Standard operating procedures are efficient and effective for new and existing businesses alike. Once they are documented and implemented they guarantee positive results. Overall, it is a process of systemization, wherein the management is simply expected to play a supervisory role by checking-in every now and then while supporting people to perform at their peak. When you put the right systems in place, the intended results are bound to follow-through without major hurdles.

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a leading agency that is known for making SOPs for not only retail businesses but many other industries. We are a leading management consulting and retail consulting agency in India and around the world with an array of clients whom we have offered effective & implementable consulting services.

     

    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.