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What To Look For In An E-commerce Consultancy Firm?

Brands globally are ramping up their e-commerce businesses. It’s being taken seriously by the top management across sectors. When brands look at establishing an e-commerce roadmap to exploit the potential to maximize online revenues – they know that they’ve got to build out an e-commerce department. And then starts the question – do we build that team in-house, or do we outsource it? What are the consequences of that decision? 

At Tenovia, we believe that getting the right team in a fast-growing space like e-commerce is tricky – and the cost of the wrong hires can set a brand back by 6 – 12 months. And that’s why at the core of our belief – we’ve built a model where we work as the outsourced ecommerce department for a fast-growing brand. 

The idea of this blog post is to help you consider some factors when selecting an e-commerce consulting firm

Tips to remember while selecting an e-commerce consultancy firm

  • Look at the firm’s services 

Look at the team’s services – will they work for you as a team extension? Can their services be bundled up and also be deployed in parts. 

  • Look at the firm’s portfolio. 

Look at the track record of the consulting firm/agency. One good way is to see the brands they’ve worked with. Go through the case studies. Ask them to talk you through their most successful projects. 

Look for how their expertise can help your brand increase e-commerce revenues

Moreover, looking at their existing portfolio gives you a better idea of their work and their ability to understand various products and market demographics. A portfolio will tell you about the clients and size of companies they would have worked for. This will help you understand how well the firm can gel with your business. 

  • Look at the firm’s expertise areas.

Do they have the expertise in your industry? Or do they have the expertise in the functions where you need the most help? Remember – e-commerce is a large space – and it has its niches of expertise in multiple functions such as merchandising, supply chain, warehousing, logistics, cataloguing, customer service, marketing, analytics, and others. 

  • Look at the firm’s competencies in the three areas.

Your ideal e-commerce partner would be good in Technology + e-commerce business strategies and execution + digital transformation.

Gauge the capabilities of these competencies as well. 

  • Team size of the e-commerce agency

Will the e-commerce agency be able to provide enough resources to breathe life into your e-commerce business? You want to know the team size that would be working on your account. If possible – ask for profiles of the team members who would be working on your account. 

  • Do metrics and KPIs drive them? 

As you’re trying to set up your brand’s eCommerce business – make sure that the e-commerce consulting firm that you hire is driven by metrics and clear KPIs so that they can help you create an organization in which you can hold multiple members (whether in the house / outsourced) accountable. This needs metrics and KPIs to be defined and tracked. 

  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of your e-commerce agency

All agencies / consulting firms have their strengths and weaknesses. Best way to find out your agency’s strengths and weaknesses? Ask them. 

The bigger the dream – the more important the team. So make sure you know you’re well enough. 

  • What’s their roadmap for you?

E-commerce offers exciting opportunities for your business. A consultant’s strong understanding of the marketplace and its policies help formulate your business plan for e-commerce. They offer tried and tested solutions and abundant resources to create a roadmap suited to where you are in your ecommerce journey. A strategic roadmap will provide you with the liberty to track your goals, quantitatively and qualitatively for both short term and long term basis. 

The Consumer Protection (eCommerce) Rule

The Consumer Protection Act: 

This act came to effect on August 9, 2019. However, the act only came into force on July 20, 2020. This act protects consumers, from unfair trade practices in eCommerce and to facilitate consumer welfare.

The rules impact: 

(a) all goods and services available on either digital or electronic networks, it also includes digital products

(b) all models of eCommerce, such as marketplace eCommerce and inventory eCommerce entity 

(c) all eCommerce multi-channels including single-brand retailers and single-brand retailers in single or multiple forms 

(d) all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of eCommerce.

(e) all eCommerce entities that are not in India but systematically offer goods and services to consumers in India

Duties

eCommerce entities: 

  • Corporate Entity: The rules set out that an eCommerce entity shall be a corporate entity under the Companies Act 2013 (regardless of the origin) or an office, branch or agency outside India owned or controlled by a person resident in India.
  • Nodal Officer: This requires an eCommerce entity to appoint a nodal person or an alternate senior is a resident in India, to ensure compliance with the Act or the Rules.
  • Disclosure of Information: An eCommerce entity requires one to provide the following information on its platform: 

(i) its legal name

(ii) the principal address of its headquarters and all branches

(iii) name and details of its website

(iv) contact details of customer care as well as of grievance officer

(v) details of the importer or seller of imported goods and services. 

This will hence ensure that the customer has all the information required for the eCommerce entity which will reduce the cases of fraud.

Changes in India's Consumer Protection Act 2019
  • Grievance Redressal: An eCommerce entity required to establish a grievance redressal mechanism and appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.
  • Unfair Trade Practice: An eCommerce company should not adopt any unfair trade practice. Manipulation of the prices of the goods or services on its platform such that it can gain an unreasonable profit, should additionally not be done.
  • Cancellation Charges and Consent: eCommerce entities must not impose cancellation charges on consumers. Additionally, the rules also bar eCommerce entities from automatically recording consent of a consumer for purchase including in the form of pre-ticked checkboxes.

Marketplace eCommerce Entities

The rules suggest that the marketplace eCommerce entities need to ensure that sellers on their platform provide the description pertaining to the goods or services on their platform is accurate and corresponds directly with the actual features of the goods or services. They additionally need to disclose and display information about the sellers offering goods and services on its platform including information about the return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, and grievance redressal mechanism, etc. Furthermore, inter alia, terms and condition need to be displayed too. 

Sellers on Marketplace eCommerce Entities

The rules also prohibit sellers from adopting any unfair trade practice, including posing as consumers to post product reviews, misrepresenting the quality or features of any goods or services. The sellers additionally, cannot refuse to take back goods or discontinue the services. The rules also impose that the sellers need to appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal, the advertisements for the goods and services they offer need to be accurate and disclose information the necessary information, the country of origin needs to on the pack, additionally, guarantees of authenticity or genuineness of imported goods, and other guarantees or warranties need to be applicable and valid

Inventory eCommerce Entities

The duties and obligations of the inventory eCommerce entities are similar to that of the sellers. They too need to disclose information, like the country of origin of the goods and services, etc. They further need to deliver the goods on time and have to guarantee the authenticity of the goods. 

E-commerce under Consumer Protection Act soon

The grey area of the Act: 

Price: 

Furthermore, eCommerce as said earlier cannot manipulate the price of the goods or services offered on its platform. However, there is no guidance on what is considered as ‘unreasonable profit’. For example, a luxury designer could sell a serum 3 times the price of a regular face mask, but would this be considered as an unreasonable profit? 

Contractual information: 

Any seller in the eCommerce marketplace must disclose all contractual information which must then be displayed on its platform. Similarly, every inventory eCommerce entity is also required to display contractual information required to be disclosed by law. However, it again becomes unclear about which contract information needs to be displayed? Is it the information between the seller and the marketplace eCommerce entity? 

Timeline for compliance: 

The eCommerce Rules have come to effect from July 23, 2020, and no grace period had been given for compliance especially to the offshore eCommerce companies that systematically offer goods or services to consumers in India. Generally, a grace period for compliance allowed in order for businesses to manage their affairs to become compliant. However, this is not the case under the eCommerce Rules. This thus can affect the functionality of the said entities

These rules aim to bring transparency and accountability in the provision of information disclosed to the consumers. It also reduces the possibilities of unfair trade practices by large sellers. With the increase in eCommerce activity especially in present times, these rules will address consumer grievances and prescribe practices that benefit consumers. Hence, for entities to comply with the rules, they will have to fundamentally overhaul their websites and will have to invest significantly in legal compliance. 

Is your online store festive ready?

This year’s festive season is unlike any other, with Covid-19 and various restrictions taking ground people can now only assume the results. Experts predict the shopping trends adopted in  2020 are here to stay. Unicommerce further reported that India’s e-commerce industry has witnessed an order volume growth of 31% for Q3 2020 ended in September, compared to that of last year. All these factors have taken form and resulted in dynamic growth and demand for various online stores. 

The festive season has always contributed to a heavy portion of sales for companies, and with the onslaught of the pandemic eCommerce companies can expect a boost of sales too. This year’s festive sales is likely to account to $4million dollars, additionally, a lot of firsts are to occur this festive season. Companies need to offer a seamless experience to their customers while not running dry of resources. 

Here are some tips for your online store this festive season:

Website load time optimization

Ensure that your online store is ready for the festive season’s high demand. Your store needs to offer optimum user experience, ensure that your store loads quickly, and offers convenience.  The ideal time for page load speed is three seconds – after that, the visitor might lose interest and leave your store. Additionally, page load speed is a vital Google ranking factor too.

User Experience

Your online store needs to offer the best user experience. Analyse your customers and find out what they prefer. Your eCommerce store must have a solid infrastructure that has a regular updating policy. In order to offer your user with the best user experience, you need to 

  •  Evaluate your overall online store experience
  • Update your strategies 
  • And optimize your checkout page

Secure your online store

Security is an essential factor when a consumer is making an online purchase. Hence, one needs to ensure that the online store has the right certification and security to boost customer confidence. Trust badges/seals are known to boost customer confidence in site security.

Selling, Delivery and other Fulfillments

Consumer experience is vital, a clear path must be laid down right from selling your product, right to shipment, delivery and overall offer fulfilment. You can ensure the same by 

  •  Expanding sales channels.
  • Setting out a clear path for shipment and delivery 
  • Enhancing packaging and unboxing experience
  • Ensuring a clear return policy is in place

Mobile optimization

Mobile selling is growing tremendously, with that one needs to ensure that your online store is able to function efficiently on mobile phones. Optimisation of online stores on mobiles are a must, this reduces the loss of visitors and ensures ease and convenience for the users.  

Customer Support

Enhance customer support and ensure all the customer queries are answered. Strong customer support will result in maximise conversions through consumer engagement. Achieve this through chatbots on the online stores, and 24×7 customer support system. 

Festive Marketing and Promotions

Consumers need to adopt efficient strategies to sell their product in the best way possible. Marketing and promotion of any product are vital this holiday season, companies need to prompt their festive season sales as creatively and strategically as possible. Here are a few pointers to ensure the same: 

  • Promotional strategies to engage customers
  • By integrating marketing efforts.

Post-festive season

Once, all of these tips are in place you need to then analyse the rate of success of your strategies, hence post-festive season one should

  • Measure the Success of the festive season campaigns: 

Set goals and measure the KPIs, this will help the overall store performance. 

  • Evaluate data and take necessary actions

Once the necessary data has been evaluated, necessary actions need to be taken to better the same. Wherever inputs need to be increased or decreased needs to be managed and done. 

  • Use data for future strategies

The data from the festive season sales should undergo analysis this will eventually enable better growth and strategies. 

With online orders increasing and online stores need to ensure user experience to be smooth from start to finish. By following these tips one can ace this year’s festive season sales. 

Key Factors to Help Brands Decide the Right Discount for Products during a Sale Period

Starting a business and taking it forward requires a good amount of planning and implementation of novel ideas. Through various advertisements and other promotion techniques, the glory of your brand can be propagated by the word of mouth. Among the many strategies they take up, the most attractive one for the customers is the discount offers for their favorite products.

Nobody likes the idea of losing money even if it’s for the purchase of their favorite products. People always look out for discounts because it provides a feeling of not losing so much money even though it may be only partly true in reality. Since its crucial point in marketing and sales, the company should give proper care while deciding the discount rates for different products.

Providing discounts for materials is a great way of luring customers into your shops and gaining desired profits. But any action done without proper research and calculations can be of fatal impact to you and your brand’s financial structure. Any mistake could result in the deterioration of your name and product.

Therefore it advisable to look out for the necessary details before granting discounts to customers. First of all, align all actions to a fixed list of objectives. The right amount of background work on tentative discount rates and corresponding profit reports can help you taste success. Following are a few steps you should focus on:

The category and quality of your brand 

It is crucial to identify the category of your brand before placing it under any discount rate. For instance, if a particular product of yours falls under the category of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), it is not desirable to fix a high discount rate. It also directly depends on the quality of your product and brand name. If it is not premium, then the rate of discount should solely be focused on the available stock and target income. ‘Buy one get one free’ offers are the best ones to implement in such situations. 

The season of the market 

The requirements by customers vary a lot with corresponding to the seasons or festive occasions. The retailers have to keep these in mind while deciding on the discount price. This has to go in tally with the availability of products. In case you need to empty the old stock of products, then devise a plan including mass discount rates. The sales should be controlled according to the intake and response from buyers. 

The aging of your product 

Since the sales market is a very unpredictable place of action, the businessmen should be alert and vigilant. You have got the responsibility to sell off as many products as possible and also devise a plan for dealing with those which couldn’t get sold. While providing alluring discount rates, no compromise should be made on the quality of the product. This shouldn’t be leading to the dissatisfaction of customers. There should be a proper balance between the two.

In desperate cases where the product is aged a lot, some compromises need to be made while fixing its discount price. The resulting tension can be solved by clubbing them with other products and providing combo offers. If you are planning to get rid of your liquidation stock, the end of season sale (EOSS) is the best way to go about it. Flash sales during festive seasons can also help in increasing customer response.

Keeping up with the annual target 

Before starting on a business venture, the primary work should be done on the paper regarding the flow of income. A record of the total earning, income, and expenditure should be kept up to date. The profit and loss (P&L) statements should be monitored every month. Based on the balance sheet, the discount offers should be implemented to cancel off payment loss. If in any case the revenue target of the previous month is not met then it should be added and compensated in the next month’s sales. The discount rates in flash sales should be fixed accordingly.

Eying on the competition 

Before fixing the price of a particular product of your brand, you should be aware of other rival brands offering competition in the same area. The difference in prices of the two brands can make a huge difference collectively. By understanding and analyzing the trends in the market, you’ll get a clear picture of how to implement the plan. Even the slightest 1% increase in your discount price can result in a massive profit gain for your brand.

By keeping all these points in mind and acting accordingly, you could surely devise a plan and fix the discount rates for the products in a way that ensures final profit.

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