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    The key is not to prioritize schedules but to schedule the priorities.
    – Author Stephen Covey.

    For a business owner, productivity is everything. The key to being the most productive is being organized. Accessing online free tools gives business owners an edge and places them at a level playing field with well-known corporate brands. Choosing the most popular productivity apps can help in meeting the business’ unique priorities and goals.

    Organizing the business effectively offers numerous benefits, including enterprises that function more efficiently. Organized employees handle their time effectively, follow up on assignments and achieve strategic goals.

    Taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies ensures the business makes use of tools for communication, collaboration and project management. Here are some of the popular simple free tools for organizing the business.

    1. Google Drive

    In a technologically progressive world, organizations have mounting storage needs. Further, 451 Research reveals shrinking budgets, growing data, and more responsive storage environment makes cloud services more attractive. One of the best in business is Google Drive.

    Collaboration: To harness the power of true collaboration, Google Drive promotes seamless group work anytime, anywhere through secure file- sharing. Version conflicts and bottlenecks are eliminated as cloud-based solutions like Google Drive enhance team collaboration. Time zones and geographical distances don’t cause delays as edits to content are synced automatically. Collaborators can further schedule video conferences or hangouts for more than 15 individuals at one time. Background noise is muted easily using this app, which permits screen-sharing and streamlined communications.

    Control and Visibility: Cloud offers strategic advantages. Google Drive has a host of security features like new admin controls, encryption, advanced file reporting, etc. Google Drive has enterprise-grade security infrastructure as well as controls.

    Google Drive empowers organizations to customize all the conditions pertaining to file-sharing. Security tools permit the securing of devices, users management, permissions, and user activity audits. Admins can further upload and download files easily besides editing and sharing content with others. Encryption further ensures data is protected, even when transferred from Google data centers to mobile or smart devices. Stay protected and profitable with this free tool for organizing your business.

    2.Google Sheet, Docs, PPT:

    For documents that deliver an office suite an enterprise needs for free, nothing beats Google Docs. For decades now, MS Office has lost its supremacy as Google Docs, Spreadsheets and PPTs make the management of word processing software simple, seamless and free.

    Apps have been moving off desktop installed software to software in the cloud. With Google Docs, you get a feature-packed word processor, presentation app and spreadsheet. Google Docs let you create, view and edit on each device from just about anywhere. Google Docs is part of the apps that a suite of apps that help businesses work smarter. Small businesses and enterprises use Google Docs for free.

    Reduce running costs and begin to create, store and share documents created. Moving documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to the cloud is versatility. Further, Google Docs offers the same functionalities as desktop suites on any smart device.

    Google Docs can seamlessly let you:

    • Convert file types
    • Invite individuals to collaborate, allowing edit, comment or view access.
    • Collaborating and chatting with collaborators in real time. The document’s revision history can be viewed and rolled back
    • Google Docs permits Word, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, PDF or zip files. Translating documents and emailing these as attachments.

    Even big businesses have been embracing Google Docs. This includes companies like ITN and media agencies like the UK’s The Guardian newspaper. For spreadsheets using Google Docs, basic editing features are available, along with a whole new level of user collaboration enabling chats in real time. One can:

    • Create spreadsheets
    • Collaborate and edit spreadsheets
    • Import or convert to excel formats, CSV, TXT and ODS formats. Export files in these formats or even PDF and HTML files
    • Use formula editing and formatting to calculate results and make data flawless.
    • Chat in real time with individuals editing the spreadsheet.
    • Creating charts.

    Embedding spreadsheets in blogs or websites. PPT or presentation features of this Google Docs trinity are equally fully featured. Business can do any of the following:

    • Share PPTs with co-workers and friends.
    • Upload and convert presentations to Google Docs.
    • Download PPTs as PDF, TXT or PPTX files.
    • Insert videos and images or formatting slides.
    • Publishing or embedding PPTs in business websites and improve audience reach.
    • Draw organizational charts, design diagrams, and flowcharts.
    • Add animations, slide transitions and themes to create PPTs.

    For any business, Google Docs is invaluable as a tool which is easy to learn and apply.

    3.Asana: Simple TMS tool

    Asana is a leading project management software considered for enhancing task management. It is a universal solution for task and project management, automating cumbersome communication or collaboration tasks. It is known for its accuracy and time-efficiency. Tracking tasks and discussing them in real time is easy. Once Asana is in place, email communications are no longer required.  The program works with notes, combined tasks, groups as well as followers. There’s instant notification of any project changes.

    The key benefits of Asana are as follows:

    Prioritization and Project Segmentation: The Focus Mode lets companies focus on productive tasks and exclude those not supporting the strategy. When projects are broken down into subtasks and tasks, progress is tracked for even the smallest assignment as per the name and deadline. Users can further upload files from local devices, Box or Google.

    Project Permissions and History: In Asana, each task, subtask, and project is included in the Activity Feed. Users and groups can be easily tagged.

    Customization: Asana provides customizable dashboards where progress for each task can be followed and the status of each participant is clear. Dashboards can be used for group conversations and notifications, tracking leads, job applicants and customer queries.

    Communication: Asana offers a smart inbox, All the corporate communication can easily be tracked without third-party services or apps. Large enterprises appreciate the fact that project communication is neatly accessed and stored. Files can even be shared from Google Dropbox, Box or local devices and chats can be initiated.

    Unique Views: Asana also offers a prioritization list with automated notifications. Search filters can be used to locate files. Secure storage: Corporate conversations and projects are protected, and the highest security standards are met. Asana also integrates effortlessly with a wide range of services and apps.

    4. Google Calendar for events, meetings

    Google Calendar is making life easier for businesses in so many ways. Whether you want to organize events or meetings, Google Calendars come with personal Gmail addresses and are simple to track.

    Here are the ways Google Calendar can help businesses:

    • Create calendars for professional events and meetings. This includes managing schedules, planning focused work time and scheduling repeating reminders.
    • Schedule group meetings using the Suggested Times or Find a Time. Arranging scheduled meetings with multiple participants with busy schedules become way easier with this feature.
    • Hide event details. This is particularly useful when meetings hosted or attended are sensitive in nature.
    • Add Hangouts to events. Now you can even set up F2F remote meetings and Google sets up hangouts for event attendees. Add attachments. Referencing relevant documents becomes easier on Google Calendar with such features. Work with cross-cultural teams. If your office is spread out over time zones, the world clock feature in Google Calendar settings can prove really handy.
    • Enable working hours. Not everyone works 9-5 and unconventional work schedules can easily fit in with these working hours.
    • Email event guests, which is really useful when one is trying to reach a large group of people about an event. E
    • Add specific meeting locations to facilitate the meeting. This facilitates the participants to find the location easily through directions. Change event notification times in advance of the meeting.

    Arrange appointment slots Sync meetings with CRM, especially if settings indicate an existing integration with Google Calendar. Sync Google Calendar with marketing software.

    5. Trello for PMS

    For project management software you can rely on, online board Trello is simply unbeatable. Organize Trello cards into lists. These cards can range across tasks, projects, notes, shared files or other aspects that help teams to work together. It is based on the premise that full visibility over relevant tasks and flexibility to rearrange as priorities change is important.

    Trello replaces email and chats for task-based communications effortlessly. For boosting productivity or handling the team workflow, Trello is really essential. Study development schedules. Manage production workflows. Keep an eye on content marketing campaigns. Organize projects. The dedicated board lets you do all this and more. Trello is suited for agile methods to keep the Scrum board or apply the Kanban methodology. It is crucial for urgent and important tasks.

    Creating new teams, boards and lists on Trello is extremely simple. Lists hold to-dos, in-progress tasks and items finished. When work gets done, cards need to reflect this and using this Trello feature makes it really convenient. Trello offers notifications and integrations with apps like Github, Slack, and Intercom. Create team spaces or boards effortlessly. Add team members and create lists. Break down tasks into cards. Assign tasks to team members. You can even attach files and track cards using Trello.

    6. Google Keep: for notes

    This note-taking app was released by Google in 2013. It garnered a lot of good reviews for simple note taking that lets you sync apps anywhere. This includes Chrome extensions, mobiles, and web pages. When one logs through Gmail, syncing is easy. .Google Keep opens up a webpage to switch devices easily without delay. In 2016, Google Keep added the feature of pinned notes. This enables businesses to maintain a hierarchy of notes.

    7. Whatsapp

    Whatsapp may be the largest messaging platform out there, but though this tool can be used for communication, it should NOT be used to delegate tasks. Advantages of using Whatsapp range across sending free messages, using easy features, importing contacts from smartphones. Photos, locations, and statuses are easily shared.

    You can, however, send video and audio messages of 16 MB or more, and send document files up to 100 MB.

    Broadcast lists can send single messages to multiple work teams through single clicks. The only problem? It does not work without data offline and makes it tough to monitor task progress.

    Conclusion

    So this sums up simple business tools you can use to boost your productivity. Getting started on these free tools is simple, and cost-effective. For any business, cost savings are absolutely essential. This is why these tools can help in organizing your business and boosting profits, ROI, revenue and growth opportunities.

    YourRetailCoach provides SOP, Market Research and Business Plan consulting. To connect, you can drop a mail at [email protected] or call at +91-9860-426-700.

    YRC Related Articles: How to Write SOPs for Marketing?, 6 Ways To Grow Your Business, How to Start a Retail Business in India, Business Expansion Plan for Small Entrepreneurs, Six Steps to Writing a Great SOP for Retail, How to write SOPs for an Apparel Brand?, How to Develop SOPs for Quick Service Restaurant?, How to write SOPs for Furniture Showroom

     

    Get Advice for Organize your Business

    8 + 2 =

    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.