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Basics first for Beginners

Before jumping into the world of business software applications, let us first cover some basics. It is not easy for beginners to differentiate between what is what. Do not get confused by the terms and languages used to describe business software products and features. These are all software applications to manage business just like we normally use Microsoft Office products at home for personal purposes. Word is an application. Excel is an application. CRM is a business application. And so on.

Now imagine if you could integrate an online grammar correction software with Word. Grammatical corrections would be suggested as and when you type in the Word document. It would save you time and effort. You will have one less thing to do in completing the writing process. Such integration is also possible between individual business software applications. For example, a software application for customer management (CRM) could be integrated with another application that is for inventory management. This enables businesses to manage multiple functions and processes from one integrated platform (a platform of applications) with relevant functional data from multiple functions on their screens to make business decisions or simply do routine functional duties.

Today, we have cloud-based software applications for business management. They are also acknowledged as Software as a Service (SaaS). Businesses need not install any software on their office computers and rather, access and use a software application or platform provided by a SaaS company remotely over the internet. This has made it possible and easier for businesses from any part of the world to utilise any popular and advanced business software application.

What is Zoho CRM for Retail?

Among many other business management software applications, Zoho offers a CRM application solution for businesses from diverse industries like life sciences, financial services, non-profits, and others including retail. Being an omnichannel CRM, and with a host of other compatible features and benefits, Zoho CRM is a popular CRM solution among retail businesses. It provides an integrated platform to manage marketing, sales, inventory, and support aiding retail operations. The product quickly gained popularity among small businesses and home offices. With improvisations, now it is reaching out to medium and larger businesses as well as per suitability.

Zoho CRM is ideal for retail businesses that adopt a customer-centric way of operating the business. This necessitates that they have a robust, integrated CRM platform in place. And Zoho CRM provides this opportunity. Retailers can run targeted campaigns to reach out to important customers. With the option of integrating various communication modes, customers could be communicated via multiple channels giving them an omnichannel experience. Customers have the option of making their purchases directly from the online list/catalogue of the offerings. With social media becoming an ocean of information for reading popular behavioural trends, retailers have a window of opportunity to gauge consumer behaviour from within the Zoho CRM.  Of course, various reports and insights could be generated within the application for better planning, strategy formulation, and decision-making. In addition to internal applications like Zoho Inventory, Zoho Desk, and Zoho, Zoho CRM could be also integrated with the external environment via LinkedIn, G Suite, Twitter, Outlook, and even Spotify.

Challenges in implementing Zoho CRM Retail solutions

Jumping in Without Assessment

As a business entity, you should know why you are getting an asset on board. It is not different from why you would select a particular supplier over others or recruit one candidate over the other applicants. How do you expect the Zoho CRM to help your business? Do you understand its features and their implications? By understanding, we mean understanding as good as knowing why we drink water. Are these going to resolve your problems or meet your specific business or functional intent? Without these assessments, your business could end up having incompatible software or making an unrequired investment.

Issues of Compatibility and Customisation

When an ERP is implemented, it should facilitate business functioning for all concerned reasons and seasons. If a company’s policy says that purchases above a certain amount would also require the approval of the CFO, the ERP must provide for it. If another policy says that TA-DA bills must be submitted before the 10th of the next month, the ERP must be customised that way. This is mapping of business requirements in ERP implementation. Even the tiniest of detail missed out in the customised ERP have consequences that go beyond simply missing out on taking advantage of having an ERP. Also, the software solutions come in their default and universal versions. Some features have to be tweaked and some others may be redundant. To make an ERP implementation succession, it is also important to customise it for all processes, departments and teams. This makes the involvement of stakeholders from across an organisation critical in ERP implementation exercises. You cannot lay the foundation of a project like this on any unofficial Zoho CRM implementation guide.

Data Migration

Making the leap from one system to another involves a critical activity called data migration. Understand this on a small scale. Imagine you are jumping from Microsoft Office to Google Suite. You have tons of data stored in MS formats. Now that you will be using a new system, you may want all the old data moved from the old platform to the new platform. But what if some of your files show as corrupt in the new system? What if many infographics are not supported in the new platform? These challenges emerge when businesses change their ERPs. It becomes important to check for compatibility in data migration. Also, the migration of unnecessary data has to be avoided to save on digital space and ensure effective performance of the new system.

Financial Implications and Budgeting

Although financial prowess is relative there can be no excuse for any lack of financial discipline irrespective of the size of the business or investments to be made. Competitive pricing is a USP of Zoho. But that does not take away the need for budgeting. It helps businesses keep their expenditure within the planned and manageable spectrum. Plus, ERP implementation often entails budget overruns. It becomes important to create the necessary provisions for such stretches based on realistic assumptions. If an investment has been made, businesses must calculate their ROI and breakeven. Without proper budgeting, cost overruns and unplanned expenditure puts a business in avoidable financial duress. In this particular case, businesses may experience higher Zoho implementation costs without budgeting.

How YRC can help

We provide Zoho CRM implementation services to retail and eCommerce businesses. This entails planning and support services as well. A team of expert retail ERP consultants and Zoho CRM consultants shall pan out the service design and delivery in adherence to planned and customised processes with established standards of performance and strict timelines. We work with a zero-tolerance policy for errors and deviations. Highlighted below are some of our key service areas in Zoho CRM retail implementation.

Need Validation and Feasibility Analysis

One of the preliminary tasks we carry out is need validation and feasibility analysis. Here, we identify and define the grounds for having the Zoho CRM platform. We attempt to settle the score with some of the fundamental questions.

          What are the business objectives of having Zoho CRM?

          How will the business model be affected?

          What are the operational objectives?

          Which retail processes will be affected?

          Can Zoho CRM achieve the business and operational objectives?

    What kind of support systems, internal resources, and organisation changes are required?

          What are the training gaps and requirements?

Mapping of Business Requirements and Product Customisation Support

In the context of ERPs, we first map the business and operational requirements by working in close coordination with clients in a planned and systematic manner. This is done keeping in mind the ERP solution in question. Every activity is carried out via defined processes. In the entire ERP implementation exercise, we work as an extended IT arm of our clients. Our team of Zoho CRM implementation consultants deal with the vendor or channel partner in customising the products to ensure that it meets your business and operational requirements.

Vendor Search and Selection

We design and implement the vendor search and selection process for our clients in their ERP implementation projects. Standard Operating Procedures are used to define this process. There is provision for clients’ approvals at critical junctures or wherever demanded. The standards of input, performance, and output for all activities are defined and mapped. This also covers the vendor search and selection criteria. We follow a free, fair, and transparent mechanism while putting clients’ business requirements first.

Testing and Implementation

Testing is an integral element of our Zoho CRM implementation plan. Testing is done at every necessary point throughout the entire implementation exercise till the successful launch of the platform. Planned and systematic processes are followed to execute various types of testing during multiple stages of incorporation and integration.

Before Zoho implementation planning, our team deliberates and formulates a suitable implementation strategy in consideration of various internal and external factors.

In implementation planning, we go by the standard practice of following the six phases – discovery and planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and support. SOP-driven processes are designed for every phase. The KRAs are defined for the Zoho implementation specialists and other team members involved in the project. This is maintained for all the roles and positions of the stakeholders. Established standards of performance are communicated to every task owner with activity timelines. Deviations detected at any stage of testing or implementation are reported to the vendor team. Feedback and reporting help clients remain in the knowhow of the status of the project.

User SOP Training and User Blueprint Manuals

As the project gets nearer to completion, we begin to pull the strings of training. Here, we provide specific ERP-based user training to employees. User blueprint manuals are prepared that can be also used after training and during routine work. We understand how important it is to have the cooperation of employees for a successful and sustainable ERP implementation. So, our goal is not only to provide technical training but also to make working in a new software environment an engaging and learning experience for your employees. Addressing the humane aspect is critical for an upward-spiralling learning curve in training programs.

YRC is a retail and eCommerce business consultancy brand with a budding international presence in more than 10 countries. As a learning enterprise, we have been in this field for more than 10 years now which involves working with more than 500 clients in more than 20 verticals. As an emerging global brand, we persistently strive to keep our services and solutions at par with international standards. SOP development (process solutions) for retail ERP implementation is one of our core expertise areas.

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    Author Bio

     Nikhil Agarwal

    Nikhil Agarwal

    Chief Operations Officer


    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.