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Interim Management for retail and eCommerce

Build your interim management team with our executive search and talent acquisition services.

Introduction to the essence of Interim Management

What is the meaning of interim management? Interim management, in limited words, refers to the concept of hiring a senior-level specialist or executive to accomplish a specific mission to a business enterprise or organisation. The role could involve more than one mission. With this understanding, it is not difficult to see how helpful the concept of interim management can be for a business or company that is struggling to cope with a tough situation or phase. The presence of the word ‘interim’ makes it abundantly clear that here we are not looking for a long-term hire but someone who could help accomplish specific business goals and objectives.

What is the meaning of an interim manager?  An interim executive is often one who bails a business out of a difficult situation or puts it in a favourable position. S/he is a problem solver and a specialist. Without generalising, in interim management, businesses hire specialists to address specific issues. Interim executives are hired as temporary positions. When their objectives are achieved, they move out. But sometimes businesses may also decide to retain them for the long term because of their proven performance and expertise.

But why do businesses choose an interim executive over a full-time executive? Sometimes internal expertise falls insufficient to tackle specific business issues and challenges. Sometimes businesses want external expertise but in a format that supports in-house working relationships. Sometimes they only want solutions to specific problems instead of an external entity interfering in other areas of business. So, interim management is a very mission-specific provision or strategy. What happens afterwards with the association is a different chapter.

Interim executives need not exist as interim executives.  Sometimes they may hold positions in other companies. And if it is permissible, they can also act as interim executives to another company. From business to business and situation to situation, the roles and liabilities of an interim executive may vary. And interim executives are not the same as management consultants. The interim executives become an integral part of the host business enterprise. Management consultants may provide the same support and guidance but their role is advisory by nature and defined by the limits put forward by clients. An interim executive has greater access to and control over execution and operations.

Situations that call for interim management in retail and eCommerce

Business Model Revamp

Business model is the foundation of why a business enterprise is able to sell its products and services and generate revenue. It comprises the UVP of what a business enterprise is offering to its customers. It maps the value chain and internal capabilities required to create and deliver the UVP. A good cobbler shop knows the possible problems customers face with their footwear. It knows the tools that will be required to solve those problems. It knows the expertise required to do the repair work. For customers, that cobbler is the solution for all the repair-related needs for their footwear. This constitutes the shop’s business model. When this perception gets consistently broken, the shop begins to lose its credibility and customers. If the business model fails, the entire business fails.

In retail and eCommerce also, many brands and businesses often carry the burden of a faulty business model. Then they need someone who could see what is going wrong and fix it. Sometimes it is even difficult to figure out that something is wrong with the business model. This is where choosing the right interim executive comes in handy. It is not necessary that an interim executive always bails a business out of trouble. But the right resource brings in the right perspectives and insights to the table. With the right combination of the old and new, businesses get the vision of revamping their business models and bringing their business back to track in some old and some new ways.

Brand Rebuilding

Sometimes retail and eCommerce brands experience their brand perception getting tarnished for internal or external reasons. In such circumstances, it becomes necessary to make a comeback. It could be a startup or a 100-year old company. But much more than that, most businesses fail to create any brand perception at all. It could be hard for businesses and customers to distinguish one brand from another in a homogenous market.

Touch digital marketing, and we are in a whole new spectrum of events. Social media can be a messy variable. A company with a perfect product and service portfolio may still fail to pitch in with the right self-portrayal.

Branding experts are what is needed here. There are experienced executives who have excelled at the art of establishing brand names. Those names may have never been related to branding in the mainstream business media. There are executives who have played or are playing subtle but profound roles in building brands or are in the process of becoming one in the future.

In interim management, we do not exactly need those people. We need people who possess such skills and expertise in the branding of brands.

Modernisation

When we speak of modernisation, we are typically referring to traditional, brick and mortar retail businesses that are willing to embrace modernisation. Brick and mortar is still the dominant force in the world of retail and it will continue to be so. In fact, technology might actually be shifting back to promoting omnichannel and O2O and seeking to enhance the in-person customer experience and facilitate shopping via brick and mortar stores and outlets.

Hundreds of retail brands and businesses around the world are embracing modernisation in a phased manner. For example, in developing regions, the surge in customer preference for retail digital payments has been overwhelming. The concept of home delivery that gained popular acceptance with eCommerce is now being increasingly adopted by store-only retail businesses.

There are hundreds of ways to adopt modernisation for businesses that are still reliant on traditional practices and technologies. But every retail brand and business will have its own requirements. If this modernisation is seen as a one-time project, applying the concept of interim management could help traditional businesses make this much-needed leap forward.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the concept of shifting from non-digital ways of doing business to the adoption of digital solutions. That definition makes it a wide-open case for interpretation but that would be rightly so. Digital transformation can touch any and all areas of doing business. Giving customers the ability to make purchases and track their orders online is an outcome of digital transformation. A retail customer being able to pay via digital banking in a mall or a departmental store emerges from digital transformation. Purchase reorder process can be initiated within the inventory management software as fallout of digital transformation. Employees working remotely are able to collaborate and do their jobs because of digital transformation. The extent of business digitisation varies from company to company. And there are associated challenges on a case to case basis.

Handling a project of implementing digital transformation presents another sound case for hiring a specialist interim executive. The ideal candidate for this role is someone with experience and expertise in both business and business-technology environments. Here, we are not talking about an executive with an understanding of business process software applications. Precisely, we are looking at CTO profiles. CTOs not only possess an in-depth understanding of the business-technology environment but are also well-versed with the business value chain and the functioning and intricacies of the industry in question.

Change Management

Both brick and mortar retail and eCommerce retail businesses are subject to making frequent and disruptive changes in their business and resultantly, in their organisation. Two big reasons for this are modernisation and digital transformation. These changes can have massive repercussions on business and the organisation behind it. Business processes and operations have to be redesigned. New SOPs have to be developed. The course of digital marketing might need a new direction. Customer support systems have to be made more extensive and reliable. These changes also have organisational implications. The design and structure of the organisation may demand adjustments. Many internal transfers have to be done to relocate human resources to meet the new business requirements. Employees may have to acquire new skills via training and development. Existing teams may have to be shuffled. There could be changes in the degree of centralisation (or decentralisation).

The concept of change management is no longer confined to just managing new learning and securing human cooperation. In today’s businesses, change management deals with three dimensions – business, organisation, and human. Change management is now a sophisticated area of work calling professional expertise. As change management is a limited and specific mission, it does not make sense to have a full-time board-level or senior executive for this purpose. And interim management fits in here as an ideal strategy.

SOP Implementation

With SOP implementation, business processes and operations are executed in a planned and systematic approach. This can give a very different experience from an undefined working environment. With SOPs, there will be established procedures to be followed. There will be task triggers and deadlines for each operational activity. There has to be strict adherence to the established operational standards. Critical aspects of duties and responsibilities cannot be shared even within a department. Change management initiatives are required to get away with such ‘alien’ feelings.

New ways of working for employees will call for new skills. Sometimes skills may even become redundant. SOP training modules will have to be designed for employees. The implementation phase has to be planned and executed in a systematic manner.

SOP development and implementation demand special expertise and experience. From planning to implementation, the required skills may not be internally available. And SOP implementation is a one-time project without discounting the need for periodical and need-based improvisations. An interim executive with expertise and experience in SOP development and implementation fits into these requirements.

How YRC can help

With over 12 years of experience, we are a retail and eCommerce business consulting firm with a dedicated HR solutions wing focused on executive search and talent acquisition services and solutions. We have a service presence in more than 20 verticals and served over 500 clients.

As an internationally growing brand, we adhere to the best practices and standards in our service design and delivery. Our team comprises professionals with relevant experience and project exposure. With improvised organisational design and the adoption of digital transformation, we function and serve remotely to clients from almost any part of the world. Despite the geographical barriers, we believe in working in close coordination with our clients via our agile reporting and feedback mechanism.

Interim Executive Search

In executive search for interim management, we help clients find and hire the most suitable candidate for their unique business goals. Our role is to search for the most suitable candidates, communicate with them, understand their expertise and career aspirations, convey clients’ requirements, and if the mutual expectations match, we introduce them to clients for further evaluation. Before that, our experts work closely with clients’ representatives to thoroughly understand their unique business requirements for interim management. Various interim positions that we often find in demand are:

  • Interim Managing director
  • Interim HR director
  • Interim HR manager
  • Interim project manager
  • Interim marketing manager
  • Interim sales manager
  • Interim operations manager
  • Interim supply chain manager
  • Interim IT manager

We engage experienced talent acquisition specialists in carrying out the hiring activities. The due standards of professional ethics and decorum are strictly maintained in trying to reach out to the candidates and communicating with them. Our assessment criteria cover proven expertise and relevant project exposure along with qualifications, experience, personality traits, and shared values. The final decision on the selection or rejection of a candidate will be that of the client.

Talent Acquisition (Interim Team)

The role of an interim executive hired could vary from business to business. The requirements of the mission affect the support team that will be required by the interim executive. For example, if interim management is sought for adopting digital transformation, the interim executive will also need a support and execution team to execute the plans and strategies. An executive alone cannot accomplish such a mammoth mission. And employees with the special skill sets to work for an interim mission may not be already available within the organisation. Upon successful accomplishment of the mission, the company may retain the team or a few members of this interim team as permanent employees. By retaining the original implementation team, companies benefit in terms of sustaining the success of the mission.

We provide talent acquisition services for all roles and positions required for interim management in retail and eCommerce. We have consulted numerous retail and eCommerce clients across different verticals for their unique business and hiring requirements. Our wide range of services provides us the understanding of the job requirements required for various functions, processes and operations involved in retail and eCommerce enterprises including family-run businesses. The service objective is to ensure that the required team is available to accomplish the objectives of interim management. This team will be on the payroll of the client.

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We work only for Visionaries.

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.