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When we think of retail growth and expansion, we are tempted to jump to the marketing side of it. We think of the many organic and inorganic growth strategies. However, growth and expansion are also dependent on your current operational standing. If you are struggling with your existing state of operations, do you think you will be able to manage an expanded version of it? As retail and eCommerce consultants, we have worked with numerous clients in their business growth and expansion projects. None with a poor operational framework ever made it successfully. Even if you add 10 more stores, you will have to make the corrections then too. So, it is better that you correct your operations when they are at a manageable scale.

With high levels of operational efficiency and effectiveness, your retail store gets good at what it does. For example, if you could resolve 100 customer complaints over a given period, you could do the same for 1000 customers with the same process. You may need more employees and automation solutions but that is a different matter. Here, we are talking about enhancing the planned operational capabilities of your retail store to handle more business and customers with high precision. This will also help you redirect resources. As for business owners, their involvement in routine operational affairs significantly reduces with robust operations management.

Going ahead in this blog, we shall see how retail stores can excel with their operations and use improved operations as a platform for business growth and expansion.

Create Departments

One of the essential management principles that retail stores must implement is the functional division of their operations. It helps achieve two objectives – better organisation and specialised focus. Various functions or operations of retail stores include purchase and inventory management, cash and accounts, logistics and delivery, sales and merchandising, customer support, marketing and business development, logistics, HR, finance, etc.

Does it apply to all retail stores? What if it is a small business? Organisational design and structuring are fundamental requirements and apply to all businesses irrespective of their size and scale. Even if the business is small, these aforementioned operations must be carried out. In small teams, there may be overlapping of duties and responsibilities. Ideally, each department has a team of its own headed by a manager or a team leader. In a small business, it could even be a one-member team.

The creation of departments and functional divisions helps retail stores become organised. Tomorrow, if they add new stores or there is an increase in business volume, it remains easier for them to enhance their operational capabilities in a balanced manner.

Develop Processes

Every department in a retail store has certain functionalities. For example, the sales & merchandising team has to ensure that stocks are placed on the right shelves as per the visual strategies. Every time new stock arrives, this activity has to be carried out. Within the team, someone has to be assigned this task. This entire task can be classified as a process or operation with a defined workflow and other operational standards to be maintained using SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). This principle can then be applied to all the processes of all the departments. Interdepartmental coordination involved could get covered with the help of SOPs. The goal is to become process-oriented. But it is important to ensure strict adherence to the established processes and SOPs.

Once process maturity is attained, the same processes could be replicated with higher confidence in new stores. Minor improvisations may be required but the foundation would already be there.

Go for Automation and Digitisation

When we say automation and digitisation in retail, we are referring to software, mechanical, and industrial solutions (and features) for retail businesses. This could include shopping website/app, ERP, analytics, IoT and SMART technologies, robotics, digital payment, cashless checkout, AR/VR, scanners, order tracking, etc. Certain technologies have become commonplace. How a retail store chooses to adopt technology will depend on its business requirements. For instance, a retail store that adopts omnichannel also goes for developing a shopping website/app for its customers. But for any global retail brand, these technologies are a bare minimum. For them, solutions like cashless checkout or the use of AR/VR are the next big things.

As retail consultants, we always maintain that the adoption of technology has big implications for the abilities of retail stores to strive for growth and expansion. For instance, by simply digital payment options, retail stores can reduce their cash-handling activities. Even if it saves them one hour a day, it adds up to more than 240 hours in a year. The resources that get invested here could be redirected to other purposes like business development or market research or customer acquisition.

Build a strong Middle-level Management

When we say middle-level management, it can also be just one store manager. If it is a bigger store, it could mean the departmental heads spearheading different functions. These are very vital positions when it comes to the operational abilities of a retail store. These are the people who see to it that the respective departments/functions under their control are operating as required. Business owners also need these managers so that they would not have to be involved in routine affairs. With the confidence to entrust the operations, business owners get the much-needed time and space to focus on the bigger business goals of growth and expansion.

Hire Professionally, provide Training

Many retailers do not take up their HR activities as they should. There is no defined size and scale of business to conduct HR activities professionally. The organisation’s strength is immaterial here. Even if you intend to hire only 5 employees, there is no reason why you should not be applying the best hiring practices. The same goes for training. Do not leave new employees to get trained by existing employees in an undefined and unplanned manner. It is good neither for skill development nor for the work culture. And productive employees stick to productive work environments. Your business cannot strive for growth and development if you do not have a stable and productive team backing you up.

Corrective PMS

To achieve the benefits of PMS, retailers must also act on the performance reports. You may have an elaborate PMS in place but you can reap its benefits only if you use the insights gained to improve performance. Also, the PMS should be designed keeping in consideration the ground realities. For example, if there are growing instances of uninformed leaves among your employees, you may have to interfere for good or invoke your store or HR manager to work in that area.

About Your Retail Coach (YRC)

YRC is a 10-year-old retail and eCommerce consulting brand with the experience of having worked with 500+ clients in 25+ verticals. As an enterprise with a growing international presence, we endeavour to sustain world-class service standards. We engage professional and experienced retail operations consultants in service design and delivery.

For more information on our retail operations consulting services or to speak to one of our retail and eCommerce consultants, please drop us a message.

Author Bio

 Nikhil Agarwal

Nikhil Agarwal

Chief Growth Officer

Nikhil is a calm and composed individual who has a master’s degree in international business and finance from the United Kingdom. Nikhil Agarwal has worked with 300+ retail e-commerce brands and companies from various sectors, since 2012, to define their growth strategy and achieve operational excellence. Nikhil & his 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.