Author: alisha
Indian Retail: Embracing a Marketplace Mindset

Indian Retail: Embracing a Marketplace Mindset

The Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic, fast-paced, and profitable market segments. Global retail giants consider this market to be the 5th largest investment destination in the world owing to its expected growth of nearly USD 3600 billion by 2020. Riding on factors like the changing economic landscape and easy credit options, coupled with rising income of consumers, the retail space is enjoying a consistent growth, contributing to almost 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Furthermore, the increased digital connectivity of the dominating millennial population exposes them to global trends, creating an opportunity for retailers to meet the ever-changing lifestyle demands of the modern Indian consumer. Of all emerging trends in the retail industry, the rise of online retail has taken the industry by storm, especially in recent years. Driven by domestic startups and robust investments from international investors and ever-increasing internet users, India is expected to become one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world. Retailers with physical stores are exploring online retail to be at par with the changing trend and address competition from the newer players. In short, e-commerce has brought about a revolution in the Indian retail space.

But how does one successfully thrive amidst this ever-expanding and disruptive market? As the need of the modern consumer surpasses tangible products and extends to best user experience or online journey, their changing behaviors call for a smarter approach to retail. That is where the need for a smart marketplace strategy comes into play. By leveraging all digital channels and diverting resources towards online store management, retailers are now being able to target more customers across smaller cities and towns, where earlier it was impossible to reach physically. Furthermore, with marketplace management services offered by the marketplace giants, retailers today are not afraid to embrace new trends and explore the new domains with open arms.

And thus from the traditional brick-and-mortar stores to the vast, virtual marketplace, the Indian retail industry has come a long way, letting every marketer and retailer enjoy their very own piece of the pie!

Festive Season hacks to nail online Marketplace management

For every Indian, this is the most awaited time of the year, when everyone strives to give and get the best things money can buy. Festive season shopping has evolved from store hopping to marketplace shopping, with grander shopping experiences and options. If you are a retailer or a marketer, you would want to invest all your time and efforts in your E-commerce marketplace management and make the most of this festive season:

Here are a few hacks to guide you through:

Personalize
The best way to reach out to different regions and cultural communities is to personalize your message/product for each of them. For example, for buyers in Chennai, it would have more impact if you use a regional connotation in your brand messaging, that your local shoppers can relate to.

Use the impact of scarcity
Psychologically, customers are always driven by a sense of urgency. For example, ‘Last 3 hours of sale’ or ‘Last 5 items remaining’ (for vanity products) have more chances of conversions than running a ’30-day festive sale’. Use the effect of scarcity to push customers through the marketplace funnel.

Avail the benefit of fulfillment services
With an increased demand for products, consider opting for fulfillment services offered by marketplaces, like FBA by Amazon. This helps you with on-demand warehousing, dedicated logistics, sales support etc. You can also look for a marketplace management service to manage operations, while you can focus more on the strategic aspects of your E-commerce business.

Create product mixes
Most shoppers look for a mix of products to gift this season. You can promote product combos based on what the marketplace is promoting or create your own combinations, based on your sales numbers. This is also a good time to add giveaways with slow-selling products and clear up the inventory.

Automate your processes
When you are running around to fulfill increased orders and deliveries, you cannot slack at any point in the entire process. To make it easier and more efficient, implement an automated inventory management system which will monitor inventory, delivery, returns etc.

With these smart hacks, you can get the maximum value in terms of sales, visibility, and traffic, and turn the festive season into the most successful time for your retail business.

Impact of the GST bill on Indian eCommerce

Introduction

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The GST Bill is one of most significant tax reforms that independent India has ever taken up. This bill, when implemented will remove all the confusion over the multiple taxes that prevail at the national level and in various states.

In today’s post, will try to understand the impact that the proposed GST bill will have on Indian eCommerce industry.

Current issues prevailing in the industry

The eCommerce industry in India has seen a phenomenal growth over the past few years and is poised to become the second largest online market after China.  The new age tech-savvy customers are demanding personalised attention and unique shopping experiences which is forcing the eCommerce industry to come up with unique and innovative products and experiences.

Due to the ever increasing demand, multiple domestic and foreign transactions, the eCommerce ecosystem in India has turned out to be highly complex in nature.  Due to this complexity, the industry is facing various issues such as:

  • Determining the role of the online market places while computing their tax liabilities

  • Liability for undertaking the waybill compliance: market place or seller

  • Liability for Deposit Entry Tax

  • Provisions under the prevailing VAT for discounts, bundled offers, returns , cancellations and replacements

  • Provisions under the current VAT for the sale of digital content such as eBooks and software products

  • Determining the state in which the sales has happened, especially in cases where the products have to be moved between states before reaching the end customer

  • Complexities associated with credit blockage

  • Service tax and other compliance related issues

Impact of the Proposed GST Bill on Indian eCommerce Industry

The Central Government of India has proposed the GST bill with the intention of creating one nation market place and that means that the bill is a huge boon for the Indian eCommerce industry. It is set eliminate all the complexities involved in their transactions.

According to a report released by Price Waterhouse Coopers, here is the impact of the GST on the Indian eCommerce sector:

Pricing impact

The output rate of tax could be higher for the company compared to the current service tax rate. However, the companies should have a higher credit pool than they do in the current regime, which could reduce the prices of their services.

Place of supply in case of B2C

Place of supply in case of B2C transactions would be the location of the service provider

Place of supply in case of B2B

In case of B2B transactions, the place of supply would be the location of the service recipient. It will be important to examine whether there would be rules to define inter-state service or intrastate service. This could be important to understand additional compliance requirement for e-commerce companies.

Compliance Requirements

Currently, e-commerce companies discharge their output service tax liability through centralised registration. Under GST, the centralised registration option may not be available. Hence, e-commerce companies would need to as such obtain registration in each state where they have their place of business, resulting in increased compliances.

How much inventory to stock for your eCommerce business?

How much inventory to stock for your eCommerce business?

Introduction

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On time deliveries are extremely important for improving the credibility and reputation of any eCommerce company, and this is only possible by maintaining your inventories efficiently.  Inventory management ensures that you maintain optimum levels of all the resources such that neither there is a shortage nor there is a surplus of them.

There is one quantity that meets all your business requirements, however, there are certain industry best practices that help you in deciding the ideal quantity that meets your business objectives.

Best Practices for determining the Optimum inventory

t2The goal of inventory management is to maintain enough stock that addresses 3 important aspects:

  • Planned sales
  • Sudden surge in sales
  • Delays in vendor deliveries

We can determine the ideal quantity by calculating the forward weeks of supply or the number of weeks of planned that the current inventory represents.

Here are a few industry standard practices that help you to maintain the right levels of inventory at any point of time:

Forecast

Demand

Forecasting is the process where we observe the market demand and understand the ideal quantity that will allow us to meet the demand. As a thumb rule, maintain at least one or two products as a stock so that you do not receive out of stock notifications. Make sure to delist the products that are out of stock and display friendly notices such as “Only one piece left” etc. to inform your customers about the exact number of products available for sale. You may also try and work on improving your product descriptions and images. Better images will receive more attention through search engines and on market places, and the viewer count can help you to determine the possible demand for your products.

Inventory Auditing 

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Regular audits help us to ensure the exact number products that we have in hand. It is advisable to conduct these audits atleast once a month in order to get a realistic picture of the numbers, however this frequency again depends on the average weekly sales.

Centralized Inventory System

Centralized Inventory management systems, like an ERP, integrated with your eCommerce platform are highly advisable, especially if you sell in different geographies and on multiple channels. These systems will give you real time information on the exact quantities available in hand.

Drop Shipping

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is a great technique, especially if you are a start-up and would like to share your inventory costs with your suppliers. Drop shipping method is based on the “endless aisle” concept where in the suppliers maintain the inventory and ship the products as and when an order is placed. In the entire transaction, the supplier remains anonymous and the customer feels that the eCommerce store made the sale.

Conclusion

While there is no set rule on the ideal quantity, we can always arrive at a number by considering various factors such as average weekly sales, hikes in sales, unexpected cancellations or reorders etc. Since every retailer has a unique mix of products and customers, it is highly advisable to spend considerable efforts in terms of time and understanding on the ideal number of products required for meeting the demand of the business.

The 4 Ps of eCommerce merchandising: Product, Pricing, Position and Placement

ecommerce-merchandisingIntroduction

E. Jerome McCarthy conceptualized the 4 P’s of marketing that used Product, Price, Place and Promotion for managerial decision making. Though technology has changed many aspects of marketing, we feel that it would be wise enough to revise our basics from time to time to understand the role of traditional marketing concepts in the modern times.

The 4P’s of eCommerce Merchandising

As we have seen, the 4 P’s of Marketing are Product, Price, Place and Promotion, now let us understand their relevance to eCommerce:

Product

Before the digital revolution, customers had the privilege to touch and feel the product that they were planning to buy. In the case of products sold over the internet, it is very difficult to understand about the product without physically seeing it.

Tech savvy customers now resort to social media to seek reviews and recommendations. The features of your product, price, and its performance will surely be the key differentiators that will decide the life of your product in the market. So make sure to offer only products with the best quality to stay ahead of competition.

Price

Price is one of the most important factors that influences a customer’s purchase decision, so maintaining a healthy equation between price and quality is the key for the success of your product.  Till you build a value for your brand, make sure to offer the best product at the most competitive price.

Place

Place refers to the place where you sell your product. It could be your own website or a market place like Flipkart or Amazon. The choice of a right place to sell your products definitely influences the sale of your products. Choose the right place that offers maximum visibility to your products and helps you to reach your desired target audience.

Promotion

Promotion refers to the process that you choose to tell the customer about your product. We now have different channels of marketing such as email, social media, search engine, content, targeted etc. The choice of medium depends entirely on the product and the target audience that you desire to reach. Also, marketing in this digital era is highly measurable and data driven. So, keep a tab on the performance of your promotions to understand which channel or medium is offering the best return on investment.

Conclusion

Over the years, the 4P’s of marketing have evolved to a great extent. Thanks to the technological advancements, marketing is now a highly measurable activity. Make sure to define the right Key Performance Indicators for your campaigns, monitor their performance at regular intervals, and analyse your returns to evaluate their performance.

 

Boost your sales on marketplaces with these 4 tips

Sure you have a cool, well-designed website for your brand. And of course, you want to direct all possible traffic onto it. However, in a dynamic e-commerce sphere, you have to be flexible and adopt a ‘sell anywhere’ attitude to stay in the running and sell your product. Listing your brand on online marketplaces, such as Flipkart, eBay, and Amazon is a great way of doing this.

The benefits of being listed on a Marketplace are numerous; the most important one is undoubtedly the reach that it gives your brand. Marketplaces offer retailers large customer bases and all the trust and credibility associated with their brand, helping you boost your domestic and global sales. This also means greater revenues and far lesser operational costs. Sounds amazing right? Apparently everyone thinks so.

Here are 4 simple tips to boost your sales in an online marketplace and ensure that your brand stands out.

Keywords – Unlock sales with the right ones

Your brand may be a well-established one or just another one in an ocean of unknowns. But none of that matters if it does not come upon a customer search. As an etailer, ensure that your product descriptions align with the keywords that users are searching for online. By doing this, your product would pop up every time certain keywords are searched for and your brand is well within the customer’s line of vision.

Working with Multichannel – Taming the beast

Multichannel embodies the ‘sell anywhere’ approach that implies a seamless presence across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy and Flipkart, the brand’s website and its brick-and-mortar stores.

Managing inventory – Updating stocks and handling dispatches – across various channels can be quite challenging when you are selling across many platforms and marketplaces. It is recommended to adopt multichannel inventory management solutions. Tools such as Stitch, sync data across many channels and manage sales across different marketplaces for you.

Product Information – Saying it like it is

Well-written product descriptions can go a long way in creating brand awareness and setting your product apart. Clear and concise descriptions with a little creativity mean that the customer knows exactly what he is buying ; while being drawn in by the catchy tone.

The description for this Body Shop product speaks of quality while highlighting the product’s natural ingredients

Investing in some good photography is also viable as the customer is impressed by the visual aspects of products. As customers do not have the luxury of a touch-and-feel experience of the product, clear and representative images can make all the difference.

Customer Reviews – Happy user stories

Customer reviews, ratings, and feedback can essentially make or break your brand reputation in an online marketplace. Your customers are here primarily for their loyalty to the marketplace – and not so much for your brand. They might not know much about your product or business. Over 61% of customers refer to reviews and feedback to get a sense of whether a product is recommended by others. While any kind of review is good and improves your products rankings, too many bad reviews would deter potential customers from making a purchase. Negative reviews and feedback have to be taken seriously and addressed. Guaranteed return policies and a great product should be sufficient to draw in rave reviews.

Positive reviews are great, however a few negative reviews make good reviews look better as the reviews seem more legitimate.

With more retailers flooding marketplaces with their goods, high competition and virtually similar products are the norms. Retailers have to strive to raise the bar and ensure that they grab the customer’s attention and translate it into sales.

Are eCommerce Apps for Retailers Losing their Shine?

Are eCommerce Apps for Retailers Losing their Shine?

Smartphone apps infographics with a hand holding a phone with linked circular icons for shopping cloud computing mail wifi analytics speech and route finder or maps

Earlier in the year, Flipkart’s Myntra.com announced that they are going to roll back their “App only sales” strategy and restart their website. This has given rise to a lot of speculation on the future of mobile apps and mobile eCommerce. Are mobile apps losing their shine? Do I need a responsive website or an app or both? What is the right strategy for my mobile presence? , are just some of the many questions that need a serious thought.

Mobile apps have become extremely popular for the convenience and ease of use that they offer. The apps personalise the content and offer push notifications to send information on the latest offers. They also use the native functionalities of the smart phone such as the camera, compass, GPS and contacts to engage the customer with the app and to improve their buying experience. However, challenges such as lack of screen space, the necessity to download the app on the mobile, smart phones with limited features etc. are forcing users to uninstall the app and return back to the website. Nearly 50% of these app customers visit the website on their mobiles first and then return to the desktop version. If your website is not ready for the mobile, you are most likely to lose these customers.

Considering these challenges, companies are now showing interest on developing websites for the mobile. These websites are light weight and do not need any additional downloads for their usage and offer an app like experience to the customers.

Both mobile apps and websites have a major role to play in a customer’s journey. While the mobile websites help a customer to discover your business through search engines and communities, apps offer a more personalised and engaging experience to the customer. So, the right mobile strategy can only be built after thoroughly understanding your business requirements and the kind of experience that you intend to give your customers.

5 Must-dos for your eCommerce business before the festive season

5 Must-Dos for your eCommerce Business before the Festive Season
5 Must-Dos for your eCommerce Business before the Festive Season

The Festive season is here. As an online seller, you know that this is your time. You know that if done right, this can catapult your eCommerce business to a different level. It’s the best time of the year for this industry. People spend more. They try more brands. They create new relationships with brands, which are crucial to marketers.

Customers you acquire now will continue to purchase with you. So remember – this is a golden opportunity for your eCommerce business that you should seize. You’re targeting a huge revenue spike this festive season. But wait – Its important to make sure your operations are in line with your revenue goals. Do your preparation work beforehand.Do it now, if you haven’t already.

Here are some of the absolute essentials that you take care of for your e-commerce store before the customers start streaming in:

• Step 1: Right Merchandising: Assess the trends of the market. Remember, you should always keep an eye on the recent trends catching everybody’s eye. Stock your store well and showcase the best products – best price, best design, best value. Work backwards and ensure you know your profit margins per product. You will have to heavily discount a few products, but set targets for overall growth in sales as a part of that offer.

• Step 2: Appeal to Early Shoppers and Gifters: Try to figure out the people who shop early and the ones who look out for the items just before the festivities start. Try to maintain the stocks likewise so that they are satisfactory for both the types of shoppers.

• Step 3: On-time Logistics: Meet with your logistic partner’s account manager. Talk to them about your higher estimate of orders. And ensure you are aware of their workload as well and then plan accordingly. Maintain punctuality during the festivals. If you need to ship orders earlier in the day, please change your process to suit the overall higher load on the logistics partner. You need to understand that the customers are about to buy some item that they are looking forward to gift someone or for themselves during the festival. Therefore, you should not delay the delivery process. If you have to tweak the messaging on the site to clearly indicate this, please do so.

• Step 4: Offer Value not blind discounts: Festivals are the periods when people look out for mind boggling offers. You should consider that almost all of your rivals in the market will be giving out offers to attract customers and hence you too should go with the flow. However, you should be careful in demarcating the offers and discounts according to the profits before you really give out any. Be smart about offering discounts – Incentivize social shares with discounts, offer higher discounts on larger order values.

• Step 5: Increase Capacity: Keep it in mind that your website will be visited by innumerable customers during the festive seasons. Therefore, you should be aware whether your server is able to handle the traffic. Also hire more manpower if needed. Ensure you’ve got enough packaging material to take care of increased orders.

A Strategic Insight into Ecommerce Inventory Management

Accurate information and its privacy, form a strong platform for any business model. An organization that intends to serve its customer efficiently without compromising on quality of service invariably relies on a strong Ecommerce Inventory management. A sound online Inventory management channel is undeniably the most effective tool to manage both single shelf and multi-product warehouse facility.

Objective of Online Ecommerce Management Solutions

Any management solution brought to boost Ecommerce productivity focuses on reducing operational costs and minimize wastage. It is achieved by establishing the following objectives:

? ACCURACY of Inventory achieved by reducing human error
? ACCOUNTABILITY towards proper counting and management of each item while it is on e-shelf
? SPEED of data capture through seamless automation to reduce man hours
? MOBILITY to make quick adjustments and replace faulty items/process once detected in the supply chain
? FORECAST AND ANALYSIS to perform market research, observe market trends, analyze and understand required stock levels

Components of Online Inventory Management Solutions

It is very important to establish the differentiation between inventory and assets if you are dealing in Ecommerce. If the focus is on an automated Ecommerce Inventory Management, the basic asset components are:

o Inventory management software
o Mobile and computers
o Label printers

These form the platform for any business to take off as an Ecommerce model. For cutting down the cost and minimizing the inventory write-offs, modern day Inventory management solutions offer a simplified approach. It includes:

? Ware-house integration system to connect your multiple suppliers when products begin to go out of stock without any manual intervention.
? Inventory management, also called product management to monitor, set and manage product threshold limits. It covers sensitive Ecommerce circumstances like
Out-of-Stock flags, cancelled orders, Order duplication and bulk orders automatically. It distinguishes the core items from the non-core items in the inventory list.
? Inventory tracking system provides a snapshot of how each item from exclusive suppliers are performing. It highlights the number of products, published/unpublished items, blocks and skips, cancellations, non-performing goods and other countable factors.
? Order Management System and Integration is the core of every online Ecommerce Management solution. To ensure logical link between inventory and order management, their integration is the primary application achieved through a comprehensive Ecommerce management strategy.
? Mobile and Wireless Infrastructure to track every update and change the way your inventory moves through the chain. Wireless infrastructure empowers the Ecommerce services to achieve the feat in a real-time scenario. Always build an infrastructure that is scalable and can accommodate upcoming disruptions/innovations.
Don’t Overlook MRO in Ecommerce Inventory Management

For any inventory management to run smoothly, activities should occur smoothly. That requires maintenance! When it comes to saving on inventory management, most Ecommerce Management consultants overlook the need to manage maintenance, repairs and replacements. In order to save recurring costs in handling utilities, online management solutions can be integrated with Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) inventories.

MRO inventory management can be integrated with all Ecommerce solutions with controlled access to reduce cost and wastage in the long run.

Shopping experience have reached newer heights with carefully stitched Ecommerce management of inventory that maintains demand-supply balance all the time with guaranteed stock safety, minimizing all possible human errors.

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