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    Getting a new business to take off can be a very challenging task. At the heart of every business lies an idea or a concept of a product or a service which is meant to fulfill certain specific needs for certain specific users and under certain specific conditions while generating profits for business.

     

    In order to convert that idea into reality, a business plan or a blueprint is required. This blueprint is nothing but elaborate planning for all the business functions like marketing, finance, HR, operations, supply chain and logistics, IT systems etc. These functions work coherently and cohesively to create the intended product or service and make it accessible to its potential users. A generic business blueprint comprising of some of the key functions is discussed here.

    1. External environmental scan

    Before functional planning is made, it is important to conduct an external environment scan to check the conduciveness of the environment in which a business will operate. Various elements of the business environment are demographics, socio-economic conditions, technology, laws and regulations, competition, socio-cultural fabric, proximity to the sources of raw materials, infrastructure and transportation connectivity, availability and mobility of workforce and so on. The relevant elements must be in favour of the conduct of business.

    2. Marketing Strategy – From product to customer via market

    Technically, the conceptualization of a business or product idea falls in the realm of marketing. Marketing strategy involves addressing several critical questions pertaining to the product, pricing, promotion, distribution, processes, customers, market segment, competition and positioning. Gathering data and information for devising a market strategy involve extensive market research and business intelligence.

    1. What will be the core product or service? What needs or purpose it will fulfill?

    2. Who are the potential customers and where are they located? (customer demographics)

    3. What is the market size and targeted market share?

    4. What is the brand / product USP and what will be the positioning strategy?

    5. What are the different marketing processes involved?

    6. What is the existing and expected level of competition?

    7. What will be the pricing strategy?

    8. What will be the channels of distribution?

    9. What kind of promotional campaigns will be launched?

    3. Finance Strategy – Managing the finance

    Finance is another critical area for any new business. One of the biggest hurdles in the process of starting a new business is acquiring capital funding. Finding interested investors, to a large extent, depends on the attractiveness of the marketing strategy of a business. However, there could be other factors as well like general economic and market conditions, prevailing interest rates, sectoral performance, other investment opportunities etc.

    In the backdrop of trying to sell ambitious business plans in order to attract investments, there is a necessity to back it up with a strong financial planning which extends to maintaining a sound financial health of business to remain afloat. Some of the most important considerations in building a sound finance strategy are mentioned here.

    1. Determining the amount of capital requirement (over business life cycle) and capital structure

     2. Identifying funding sources with optimized cost of capital and repayment terms

     3. Pragmatic estimation of return on investment and calculation of repayment period

     4. Expected time period for achieving break-even

     5. Planning for working capital management

     6. Cost analysis

     7. Preparation of financial statements

    4. Technology and information systems – Getting the right technologies

    Use of technology and information systems can significantly enhance the functional performance of a business. But what is equally important is the adoption of the right technological tools and applications. In order to devise an effective IT strategy, entrepreneurs need to answer some pertinent questions related to the IT systems in their proposed new business.

    IT and ITeS enabled automation and services have become an inseparable part of everyday business operations. For example, use of POS machines, barcode scanners, printers, monitors and CCTVs are very common in modern day retail and departmental stores. The increased usage of e-commerce, smartphones and the internet has pushed companies to launch mobile apps, create online channels of distribution and make their selling platforms compatible with popular payment solutions like net banking, debit and credit cards, mobile wallets, unified payment solutions, QR code technology etc.

    IT systems are equally important for enhancing and facilitating internal operations. Business functions and processes are often inter-related and interdependent for day to day and strategic decision-making. This gives rise to the need for integrated data and information management tools and technologies like ERP, data analytics, IT networking, internet and cloud-based services.

    There is no dearth of IT and automation tools. The question is the selection of the right technologies which will facilitate in executing business processes, operations, activities and help in business decision-making. Secondly, selection of IT tools and technology involve consideration of factors like cost of acquisition and maintenance, depreciation, replacement and upgradations.

    5. HR Strategy – Having the right people on board

    A good business plan is incomplete without a well-defined organization structure and organization design, a strong organization culture and the right people working on it. Every individual plays a certain role in an organization and his authority, responsibilities and accountabilities must be clearly spelt out. An entrepreneur must also ascertain the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the manpower requirements of business. In order to attract and retain productive employees, it is important to have a fair and competitive structure of compensation and benefits. Other important considerations in building an HR strategy are –

    •  Training and development programs to fine tune knowledge and skills
    •  Performance management system
    •  HR processes and audit
    •  HR manual comprising of rules and regulations like leave and attendance policies, exit formalities, dress code, discipline and decorum etc.

    6. Compliance – Adherence to statutory norms

    In order to start and run a business, entrepreneurs need to take several licenses and permissions from the concerned authorities. The regulatory framework also lays down the terms and conditions under which business operations can be carried out. An entrepreneur and his employees need to be conversant with these rules and regulations.

    7. Supply Chain Strategy – Managing the logistics

    A business enterprise needs to make sure that the products and services reach the customers and retail points in the shape and form as intended and in required quantities. Inputs to a product pass through various value addition points to become the final product which again passes several hands to reach to end customers. Ensuring a smooth supply chain process from manufacturing to the store involves management of distributors and suppliers network, channels of transportation, storage and warehousing and information systems.

    Starting a new business and getting it to run smoothly can be a humongous and challenging task. But the quality of efforts exerted at the initial stages of business planning can significantly reduce the level of complexities involved. Having the right functional strategies can help an entrepreneur keep the coast clear and smoothly roll out a new business project.

      To know more about “Business Start-Up” get in touch with our Retail Experts on [email protected]


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    Author Bio

    Rupal Agarwal

    Chief Strategy Officer

    Get Advice to Starting a New 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.