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What are Standard Operating Procedures?

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a step-by-step explanation of how to carry out a task. A simple example of SOP is a food recipe. It is particularly useful when you are trying to cook a new recipe. It explains the manner in which a particular food item must be prepared. A definite sequence is adhered to. The ingredients must go in at the right time in the process. If the sequence is violated or not followed as defined, the end result will not be within the scope of expectations. We may not need SOP for simple tasks but when the complexity level of a task reaches a certain point (which can vary and can also be subjective), a manual or guidance is of big help.

Why are Standard Operating Procedures Important?

SOPs reduce the need for training and supervision. Because SOPs serve as procedural roadmaps, it becomes easier for employees to follow the required steps in completing a task. When employees have such a guide map, the need for the intervention of supervisors or managers to oversee the flow of work is reduced.

SOPs increase the efficacy of business processes. SOPs provide detailed instructions on how to execute processes and operations. It defines the standards of input, output, and performance required for every activity involved in a process. Only when these benchmarks are met can a process move forward. The scope of mistakes and errors is obliterated in well-defined SOPs. This further eliminates the potential for doing a task again or process delays.

SOPs help maintain brand image by providing consistency in business operations which eventually affects customers and other value chain partners like suppliers. If internal operations are messy, they show up on external fronts. Maintaining consistency in the execution of business processes and operations is critical to functioning as a reliable entity to all stakeholders. SOPs provide this consistency by way of process standardisation.

SOPs help in better compliance with regulatory norms by pre-defining tasks and timelines along with fixing accountability. A simple example of this is a process trigger as a part of the SOP definition. This trigger lets employees know when to initiate a task and complete it. Maintaining timelines is critical when it comes to regulatory compliance.

Why use SOPs for Digital Marketing? 4 reasons are cited here

Improved visibility on SERPs

Let us understand this point with an example. Did you know that websites that load faster rank better on SERPs? Various factors that affect the loading speeds of websites include:

  • Web hosting platform, hosting location
  • Size of the files, volume of flash media
  • Web traffic and number of HTTP requests
  • Network environments
  • Server location and performance
  • Density of codes
  • Caching
  • Number of ads

So, it becomes imperative to keep a tab on these parameters on a routine basis. Having digital marketing SOPs for the same (say a checklist to visit every day) helps the IT team detect deviations and apply corrective measures and keep the loading speed within the desirable limits. The same principle applies to all other areas of digital marketing.

Higher ROI

The expenses made in digital marketing are also an investment because certain results are aimed in return. ROI in digital marketing is a function of net profit and investments made. In general, if you are able to get more returns than the costs then it is a positive sign. But here we are not talking about the formulas and metrics. We are talking about the significance of having SOPs and how it translates to higher ROI. The simple underlying essence is that if your planning and implementation in digital marketing are done in an established and systematic manner (SOPs, process-oriented), the chances of mistakes, miscalculations, and deviations in both planning and operations are reduced which in turn contributes to commercial advantages.

Consistency and accuracy in content management

In content management, SOPs help streamline operations, improve internal and external coordination, and secure timeliness, consistency, and quality in content creation and publication.

Having established digital marketing manuals for content management (from ideation to publication) helps maintain consistency in brand voice and tone.

SOPs also help in the induction of new teammates into the processes by making it easier for them with clarity in workflows, process standards, and unambiguous assignment of roles and responsibilities in the processes. Even if any digital marketing agency is hired the use of digital marketing agency SOPs is recommended for better coordination with them.

SOPs are also a great tool to detect deviations and identify the scope of improvisations in content management processes. The simple logic is that when you are following a defined path, it becomes a cakewalk to spot better ways of doing something.

Staying relevant on social media platforms

Handling a crisis situation is a perfect example of why you should have SOPs. Many times brands and businesses are stuck with unexpected or unintended events. The impact of these events is profound on social media handles. Not having any planning and execution roadmap could end up adding fuel to the situation. There are three stages of handling crises (preparation, response, and recovery). There needs to be a plan and action course (SOPs) for each of the stages. Having SOPs is a way to ensure that the actions required for pacifying and mending different situations are established in advance and are executed accordingly.

Application of SOP Digital Marketing

Although many ready-made digital marketing SOP PDFs or digital marketing SOP samples are available on the internet, every business has unique requirements and needs customised SOP solutions. To provide a sense of direction as to how SOPs can be put to use, here are some examples of applied SOPs in digital marketing. This will help to also decipher the SOP requirements unique to every business.

SOPs for Implementation of SEO principles and practices
Example – SOP for carrying out keyword analysis

SOPs for Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Example – SOP for measuring ROI on promotional campaigns

SOPs for Email Marketing
Example – SOP checklist to observe before sending an email

SOPs for SEM/paid promotional campaigns
Example – SOP for campaign planning

SOPs for Analytics & Reporting
Example – SOP checklists for what to be included or measured in different kinds of reports

SOPs for Content Management
Example – SOPs for the creation and publication of different types of content

SOPs for Website and App Management
Example – SOP for monitoring the performance of website/app

If there is a process involved, there is a scope for wrapping it in the form of SOPs. To know more about our SOP consulting services or to speak to one of our business process consultants, please drop us a message and we will reach out to you. Please visit our website to read more about our SOP design and implementation services.

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Author Bio

 Nikhil Agarwal

Nikhil Agarwal

Chief Growth Officer

Nikhil is a calm and composed individual who has a master’s degree in international business and finance from the United Kingdom. Nikhil Agarwal has worked with 300+ retail e-commerce brands and companies from various sectors, since 2012, to define their growth strategy and achieve operational excellence. Nikhil & his team have remarkable success stories of helping brands achieve 10X growth.

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    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.


    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 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.


    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.


    • 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.


    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!


    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 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 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.


    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 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 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.


    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.