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When you start an eCommerce business, the possibilities are endless, thanks to billions of people on the internet. E-commerce businesses have the potential to become a brand if the right types of strategies are implemented. When it comes to scaling an eCommerce business, it can be a challenging process, even if you are growing on your own. However, to keep up with this growth, numerous things need to be set in place.

The costs of running an e-commerce business are always rising, so profits need to follow suit, which means more leads and conversions for your business. To understand the fundamentals of scaling your eCommerce business, think of your company as a building. Whether you are starting a business or constructing a building, you have to build a solid foundation first. Next, you need building materials and labor i.e. your team to help build momentum and finish the task.

Scaling your business without a strong foundation can be very dangerous since it can be very difficult to get positive returns on your investment (ROI) unless you can maximize your revenues. Here are some of the parameters that can play a key role to scale your e-commerce business.

1. Digital Marketing

It’s no secret that the online medium is important to marketing e-commerce businesses. After all, there are billions of users on the internet, so it’s no surprise that digital marketing has a high demand. This means that digital marketing is a crucial component of scaling online businesses. However, this sector is constantly changing. New marketing trends seem to come out every few months; it almost seems like something is being invented every day.

A digital marketing strategy is a large term. It is challenging to master it on your own. You need to stay focused on the basics of digital marketing, which usually involves two parts – forming a strategy & executing that strategy.  A few objectives need to be considered while devising a digital marketing strategy.

 a) Target Group > Must decode the 5Ws

Answering these basic questions can assist you in setting up the foundation for your marketing strategy. To obtain information about the target group, one should first ask “5 W’s”: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Who is the target audience for your advertisement?

You need to consistently ask yourself this question: Who is it that you are trying to target? The answer will drive everything else you do. Even the desired outcome shall revolve around your target audience. Hence, keep the target audience in mind as a guide to the rest of the process.

Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Adwords already have multiple options for offline to online targeting. Hence, you can target and precisely segment the audience on these platforms as per your business needs. Regardless of which platform you employ, once you decide the target audience, next is to decide What?

What format of the ad will be shown to them?

The digital marketing industry offers a variety of options today. So, how do you decide in which format to show your message? Text, display, and video ads are the common formats available, but native ads, like those found on Facebook, are also favored choices. You can target your desired audience and spread your message through these ads.

The next big question is Where?

 Where will you target people with your ad?

Think about where your message will appear. You can place an ad on a social network and it will appear there. As mobile devices become more popular, there are also options offered tailored specifically for mobile device users. Facebook has developed several interesting ways for marketers to reach their target audiences via mobile devices using messages that are designed to fit those devices. After knowing the Who?, What?, and Where?, it’s crucial to think about When? and Why?

When are you showing your audience your ad?

Getting your messaging to people at the right time can be just as important as anything else in your campaign. A lot of this can be determined by the answers to your other questions. For example, If you’ve decided to use Facebook ads to target the audience, they can only see your content when they are active on that particular platform. Do you have a preferred frequency of displaying these ads? It’s important to maintain consistency to avoid dropping off the radar completely, but you don’t want to lean too far and spam the users.

And finally, Why are you showing this ad to the audience?

While everything up to this point is important, you should never lose sight of why you’ve made the choices you have! What is the goal you’re trying to attain with your marketing?

Advertisements and messages should always serve a purpose. Why are you serving the advertising or message to your target audience? Those who see the ad must be guided to accomplish the goal. Always keep your “Why” in mind when creating a campaign or running an ad. By focusing on why a campaign has launched, you can surely prosper. To learn more, refer to this video here,

 

b) Revalidate your Niche

eCommerce businesses, especially startups should offer unique products, focusing on specific gaps in the market. Thus, an e-commerce business should think of revalidating its niche to scale the business. Knowing your industry, the business you run within that industry, and the audience you intend to sell to is the first step to finding your niche.

The number of Amazon.com visits is around 2 billion a month and eBay gets about 1 billion visits a month, according to Similarweb. Many countries around the world rely heavily on these two sites for eCommerce as they have set up a niche as per the industry and the target audience. So if you want to scale your eCommerce business, you need to have a unique niche that can set you aside from both the big players as well as the smaller players of your industry.

Increasing their customer base and attracting new buyers are some of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face in the eCommerce industry. But if you can find a niche or tucked-away spots where loyal customers can come to shop, you might not have to waste a lot of money on advertising. To say it all, if you have a unique niche, it may be worth it to push it. Refer to this video to know more,

 

c) Competitor Research

eCommerce is a growing industry and internet access has made it easier and more lucrative for everyone to shop from e-commerce websites. However, it is easier to think of starting an e-commerce store but very difficult to become a brand in this industry and that’s where competitor analysis can be useful. The purpose of a competitive analysis is to determine the potential advantages and barriers that businesses could face within a target market for a product or service and to monitor how competitors are implementing various tactics, such as marketing, pricing, and distribution. Learn more here,

 

2. SOPs

Startups often fail due to poor management because they ignore the importance of standard operating procedures in the e-commerce business. SOPs are useful for streamlining business processes and ensuring efficiency. Creating SOPs can be the first step to helping you achieve business excellence since they will enable you to work “on your business” rather than just “in your business”. SOPs help your business to excel as they can help your employees understand the different tasks and processes of the organization, thus improving productivity in the operations.

The new-age technologies and e-commerce business model are prioritizing the consumer needs, hence SOPs also need to be created with a customer-centric approach in mind. Without a doubt, the top-notch innovations have automated business operations and offered convenience to the customer, but to survive in the e-commerce industry, having efficiency in the process and proper strategic decisions is equally essential and that’s where SOPs fit in! Therefore, the use of technology, automation of the business process, and the old-school methods of SOPs for efficient operations are crucial to scale an e-commerce business.

3. Good Team

A company can never sustain itself if they don’t have the support of a good team that’s working hard for the business to flourish. Hence, it makes sense to hire the right talent and potential employees for the growth of your business. However, this does not mean you can overburden your team with a plethora of tasks. There are recurring tasks in almost every organization, and if those can be automated properly, this reduces the burden on employees so they can focus on revenue-related objectives.

According to a McKinsey report, about 60% of businesses can easily save 30% of the time with automation of processes. Each business has several regular tasks, such as paying monthly bills, generating weekly reports, and storing data, and business automation can help you there! Even with this, SOPs can again prove to be very helpful. You can easily guide your team to refer to the SOPs to know what processes need manual intervention and cannot be replicated using an automated process. Similarly, if you have a new member in place, SOPs act as a training manual so that the teamwork does not get affected and the new employee can be trained without micromanaging.

4. Digital Customer Experience

Due to the fast-moving world where everything is just a few clicks away, e-commerce businesses need to stay competitive by adopting new technologies to offer the best customer experience. Consumers today prefer convenience over anything else, thus new e-commerce startups need to improve their digital customer experience if they do not want to bear the loss in the business.

Providing seamless and hassle-free customer service is the key, be it through your website, social media handles, chatbot, customer support – basically, every point of contact directly with customers has to be top-notch. Similarly, take care if the response time is not up to the mark or the website does not load properly or if any page on your website shows an error. All these factors can affect the customer experience negatively and also your brand image. Instead, work on how you can transform the checkout experience for the customers by adopting new software and technologies. Those who work on improving the digital customer experience can easily attract or retain customers and evolve as a big brand in upcoming years.

5. Budgeting

Money is the backbone of any business! An e-commerce business can grow only if one has expertise in managing the cash flow or else, the business can result in huge loss. Business owners should ideally be keeping comprehensive details about the cash flows and budgeting. This is because cash flow can act as the biggest hindrance in scaling an e-commerce business. Thus, cash flows need to be planned proactively to avoid a situation where you run out of cash!

How can YRC E-commerce Consultants help?

Wondering how to run a successful eCommerce business? At YRC, our e-business consulting services and our professional eCommerce consultants are there to guide you at every step. We offer a variety of services to help our clients scale their e-commerce businesses. These services include working on business strategy, business plan, streamlining the team roles, KPIs and KRAs, digital marketing strategy, e-commerce website design or development, SOPs, e-commerce softwares selection & implementation, inventory management & ecommerce fulfillment, process automation, launch strategies, etc. To explore more, contact YRC E-commerce Experts to start and/ or scale your e-commerce business.

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.