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    What is outsourcing in retail?

    Starting from business ideas to check-out technologies, the global retail industry has witnessed drastic changes in the last half a decade or so. Omnichannel has further spiced up the retail space and race. Besides ensuring an adequate footfall at the physical stores, there is also the challenge of building and securing the online customer base. Changing customer tastes, preferences and expectations is yet another critical variable.

    With so much happening around in the retail landscape, retailers and e-commerce companies need to up their ante and invest their limited resources into mission-critical tasks. And in this pursuit, outsourcing what could be outsourced is increasingly becoming a smarter strategy for better delivery which to some extent explains why outsourcing retail operations is somewhat trending.

    Hot in Retail Outsourcing Services

    Some of the common services which retail companies seek to outsource are Information Technology, Accountancy and Bookkeeping, Order processing and Management, Retail SOP Design, Process audits, Logistics and Customer Service Management. Let’s have a quick look at some of these services.

    Retail SOP Design

    Standard Operating Procedures are the guidelines that explain the how, what, where, and whom of every process in your retail business. SOPs are designed keeping in mind the company’s goals and the operational standards and expectations for every process, at every stage. In retail, SOPs can help in achieving the operational goals for every process. For example, to ensure that there are no delays in addressing customer grievances, having SOPs for the same, will help the customer support staff communicate with the aggrieved customers and the internal systems in a step-by-step, coordinated manner.

    Order Processing

    Seamless order processing without any errors is a cornerstone of excellent customer service in the retail space. With increasing competition in retail, customers have high expectations and seek prompt order processing and the earliest possible delivery.

    A seamless ordering process can help retain customers and build customer loyalty. If there are any loopholes or delays in the process, it can lead to customers getting aggrieved which may hurt the brand, the last thing a retailer would want. Hence, retail firms are opting for outsourcing their order processing services to expert BPOs.

    Process Audits

    In a dynamic business environment, even a time-tested and proven process needs to be checked for its efficiency and effectiveness from time to time. Process audits can help in assessing the scope of improvement in the existing processes in the light of new circumstances and new information. Audits can be time-consuming and may have a derailing effect on business operations advocating the case of outsourcing process audits.

    Customer Service

    In the ever-increasing retail industry, customer service can be a make-or-break factor for any retail business. Experienced retail organizations have realized that customer service is an area that can be outsourced to expert service providers not only for cost-effectiveness but also for reasons of complete dedication and better execution of customer services towards enhancing customer delight.

    Warehousing

    The demand for products in the retail space is becoming more volatile and unpredictable. Now that same-day or next-day deliveries have become a much sought after choice, fulfilling customer orders by the hour is getting challenging. Although variety is an important offering in retail, increasing the range of products and services adds to operational complexities. This, in turn, affects warehouse operations and spikes up working capital and carrying costs. Outsourcing firms can help mitigate the risks by planning inventory systematically and easing out the warehousing operations.

    Top Retail Outsourcing Companies in India

    Let’s have a look at some of the top and upcoming retail outsourcing and BPO companies in India which you’d want to have a look at, especially if you have your own retail business.

    Let us start with the big names in the game.

    1. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

    Tata Consulting Services (TCS) is one of the biggest names in IT services providing digital solutions for businesses. TCS’s key services in retail include retail supply chain management solutions, Omni POS solutions, sensor data analytics (IoT framework).

    Get to know more: https://www.tcs.com/retail

    2. Wipro

    Giving close competition to TCS is Wipro, another iconic global brand specializing in information technology, consultancy, and business services with operations spanning across 6 continents.

    The services offered by Wipro in the retail industry have been vetted by many top retailers in the world. With their technological and retail expertise, they help companies become more agile. They empower companies to reimagine their clients’ and customers’ shopping journeys by leveraging capabilities which include design thinking, systems integration, product engineering, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Wipro helps retail players to not just improve their operational efficiency, but also drive innovation.

    Get to know more: https://www.wipro.com/en-IN/retail/

    3. Accenture

    Accenture is an Irish company with business in strategy, operations, consulting, digital and technology. The company has a significant workforce base in India. In retail consulting, they provide services in data and analytics, customer engagement, and digital capabilities.

    Get to know more: https://www.accenture.com/in-en/industries/retail-index

    4. Infosys

    Established in the year 2002, Infosys is one of the leading digital services and consulting companies in the world with a service presence in 46 countries. In retail, Infosys provides solutions in digital customer engagement, omnichannel commerce, and supply chain to a wide range of industries.

    Get to know more: https://www.infosys.com/industries/retail.html#our_offerings-title

    Let us also not forget that there are brands that bootstrapped their way out through garages in their early years. Here are some of the promising stars in retail outsourcing.

    1) Invensis

    Invensis is an IT-BPO service provider company with an experience of more than two decades. In retail, the company offers a wide array of outsourcing support services for a wide range of retail businesses. Their outsourcing support services cover e-commerce, call center, sales, digital marketing and a lot more.

    Get to know more: https://www.invensis.net/outsource-retail-bpo-services

    2) Flatworld Solutions (FWS)

    Founded in 2002, Flatworld Solutions is a global company providing solutions in information technology, business consultancy, and outsourcing services. In retail, services offered by FWS include creative design and photo editing, software development, call center services, web analytics, research and analysis, accounting and bookkeeping, data entry services, etc.

    Get to know more: https://www.flatworldsolutions.com/industries/services-for-retail-industry.php

    3) Classic Informatics

    Started in 2002, Classic Informatics is a web and mobile apps development company driven by a solution-based approach. In retail and eCommerce space, the company offers services in POS solutions, product management, product catalogs management, and promotions and marketing.

    Get to know more: https://www.classicinformatics.com/retail-ecommerce-software-development/

    4) Your Retail Coach (YRC)

    Your Retail Coach is a retail consultancy and outsourcing company specializing in retail and eCommerce and has catered to more than 500 clients in the retail industry since 2012 granting them rich domain experience and expertise. Services offered by YRC include retail store management, omnichannel consulting services, warehouse management, business plan development, franchise consulting, SOP consulting, process audits, ERP consulting, etc.

    Get to know more: https://www.yourretailcoach.in

    If you are a retail business considering the outsourcing strategy, understand your business requirements and your outsourcing goals first before you go about taking a call. There are many companies providing services via outsourcing for the retail industry but first, you must be clear as to why you are opting for outsourcing and what exactly your business case is for it.

     

    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.