eCommerce

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. 

BOPIS: Buy Online, pick up in-store

It’s now becoming imperative for brands to turn towards eCommerce solutions for their success. New technologies and models are being used to optimize eCommerce functions, one of those models include BOPIS. 

BOPIS or otherwise known as the Buy Online, Pick Up in Store- is slowly becoming a way for retailers to drive in-store foot traffic and connect their offline and online experiences. This experience offers shoppers who have become too busy to browse items in-store and are more comfortable buying online. The model allows its retailers to blend the online and in-store experience with customers to offer a more convenient way to shop.

Furthermore, a study shows that 92% of retailers currently use a BOPIS model to increase purchases. Additionally, 98% of retailers have seen additional in-store purchases from BOPIS customers. 

So, how does BOPIS Work?

With the shift in shopper behaviour, and shoppers preferring more choice and flexibility in orders, BOPIS model has come to be more efficient. Consumers with BOPIS are able to complete their purchases or make returns quickly and conveniently. This model acts as a key in delivering orders by enabling customers to conveniently select which items they want to purchase immediately, and picking it up at the store. Here’s how the process works:

1. Customers buy online, through the website or mobile app: 

Customers complete their purchases either online or in-app, simultaneously they select the time and store location to pick-up the purchased products. With real-time inventory visible at hand, the consumer can choose when and where to pick up their products.

2. The store fulfils the online order:

There are two procedure that can be followed in this step

  • When and if the item is in stock at the chosen local store, the store associate uses an app to locate, pick and pack the order. They then hold it for the customer while an email is sent out letting them know it’s ready for pickup.
  • Now, if the store does not have the item in stock, the associate orders it from a store or warehouse facility. Once it arrives, the customer is notified and can pick up the item at his or her convenience.
3. The customer picks up the order:

Customers then go to a designated online pick up area where a store associate hands over the items. Some stores even offer a curb-side pick-up – where a customer can drive up to the store location and receive their order without leaving the car.

Now, Why are Customers choosing BOPIS?

There is a shift in the shopping experience, customers are now looking for a more convenient shopping experience where they not only save time but money too. Here are the factors that contribute to the shift:

1. No shipping fees:

Unless a retailer offers free shipping, a customer pays a significant amount on getting their items shipped. But with BOPIS, customers can save both money and time by picking up their order in-store rather than paying to ship a single item.

2. Quicker service:

Getting items in the hands of the customer fast is essential, and BOPIS can offer exactly that. Customers can order an in-stock item online and have it ready for pick up in an hour than it is to wait two days or longer for delivery. 

3. In-stock Insurance:

BOPIS serves as a kind of insurance that the item customers want is 100% at the store of their choice when it’s ready for pickup

Benefits of BOPIS:

1. Extra purchases from customers:

Customers when they go in-store to pick up their order, they may have a look around and browse for more products. This creates a perfect opportunity for increased upsells at the given location.

2. Lower shipping costs:

Shipping orders can be expensive for the retailer, with labour and packaging costs quickly adding up. Retailers can save on last-mile shipping if customers pick up items from the store, while still offering a fast, free shipping option.

3. Better inventory management.

With BOPIS, businesses no longer need a separate online and in-store inventory system. Orders can be fulfilled both from the distribution centre or store shelves, this, gives retailers access to a larger inventory. By combining and optimizing the two systems.

4.  Fewer returns:

Customers who place their orders and pick them up from a store, though, have the ability to inspect their product before ever leaving the premises. This decreases the return rate and can save retailers a substantial amount of money.

Various retails giants and brand both in India and international have introduced this BOPIS model, they include in the Indian retail giant 

Shopper Stop: that offers an Express Store Pick Up. Which theoretically is based on the BIOPIS model of self-pickup. A customer can shop online and collect their order from the preferred Shoppers Stop store at their convenience.

Walmart: International retailer offers a curbside and in-store pickup for customers on the go. Walmart’s grocery pickup combines the convenience of online shopping with the ease of never leaving the car, all at no additional cost.

Shoppers continuously crave convenience, which is why retailers should adopt the buy online, pick up in-store model (BOPIS) to compete against giants like Amazon, Flipkart, etc, that are now ruling the market. With efficient utilization of a website or app for ordering, at least one brick and mortar location, and real-time inventory capabilities. This BOPIS model can certainly be nailed.

How to reduce returns on eCommerce this festive season

With the ongoing festive season and the onslaught of the pandemic, eCommerce is one industry that is experiencing growth. It has flourished with a 20% year on year growth, and this growth has only accelerated with COVID-19. But, as online spending is increasing, so are the returns. 

A new survey conducted by Yopto, gives insight into returns and how return cost could hit up to $550 billion in 2020. Further, this study also reveals that the best way to reduce product returns. 

First, we need to understand:

How does the return policy of a company impact the consumer’s purchase decision? 

A store’s return policy almost directly influences a consumer’s purchase decision. Hence, disregarding return policy is simply not viable. The survey further found that about 70% of the survey participants said return policy is important in making their purchase decision. 

Furthermore, the study shows that 59% said they wouldn’t order from a store that charges a returning fee. And about half of the participants say they have abandoned an online order because of the return policy.

The return policy is one of the best business strategies, and rather than companies focusing on the customer’s ability to return, they should focus on reducing the customer’s need or desire to return.

Why do consumers return products?

Another survey conducted across various brands states the following reasons as to why products are returned:

  • 65% of the surveyed shoppers cited ‘fit’ as a reason for their purchase returns
  • 39% stated that the product description not matching the item 
  • While 33% said that products were as  they looked different in person
  • 35% of shoppers also admitted to over-ordering when buying online, and this indirectly affected returns

They also found that

  • 43% of millennials buy with the intent of returning the products
  • And 46% of Gen Z to buy with the intent of return

This behaviour varies with the industries, and items such as household items, tea, coffee, etc, are placed without the intent of returning. With that being assessed companies can better their technologies and communication in order to reduce returns.

Reduce returns by:

  1. Updating Product Listings

An accurate product description can reduce returns tremendously. As stated earlier with 39% of shoppers citing a difference in purchase and description return product, updating of product listing will reduce this number. 

  1. Customer Reviews

Helpful information from customers motivates further purchases. Unfiltered comments, photos, and videos from other shoppers act as powerful pieces of content to gain shoppers trust. These reviews not only provide information but also boosts shopper confidence in their buying decision.

  1. Filter the Reviews according to topics

Filtering reviews according to topics helps the shoppers to make decision-based on criteria like fit, fabric, quality, etc, more efficiently. With accessibility to relevant and useful information, they will be allowed to make the best purchase decisions and thus reduce returns.

  1. Answering customer  questions

By offering a Q&A section for products, consumers will get quick and reliable answers from both other buyers and the company itself. This will thus help to bridge the gap between how the product is described online versus how it looks when the buyer receives it. 

  1. On-site galleries

Galleries of real customer photos and videos will also reduce the gap between how the product looks online and in person. This will help in bridging the online-offline gap for potential buyers and instil trust.

Opportunity in returns:

Furthermore returning of products can act as an opportunity to enhance the customer experience. By making the product return a positive experience it will create a good impression for the company and enhance loyalty.

It was seen that 92% of shoppers are likely to order from the store again if the returns were easy.

Additionally, a follow-up on the return via SMS, email, or call to will help in personal communication. One can offer a coupon code, discount or membership program to re-engage the shoppers. 

By using the following steps and realigning activities one can reduce returns and increase their profit margins. 

Rise of ePharmacy in India

The onslaught on the pandemic saw the rise of various industries including E-Pharmacy, which offers users the convenience to purchase medicines with just a push of a button.

E-Pharmacy is an online medical shop where one can purchase pharmacy products from the comfort of your home. Just upload a prescription on the app and place an order for the pharmacy products you need.

This sector according to Frost & Sullivan is creating a paradigm shift in the Indian medicine market. It’s likely to reach over $3.6 billion by 2022 & presently contributes close to 2–3%. By the end of the year, it will capture 10% of the total market. 

ePharmacy is changing the landscape:

With discounts on medicines and giving users the convenience to purchase medicines and get the delivery right at your doorstep. Noting the rise of ePharmacy, investments have been on an influx. Various acquisitions are taking place, including Karexpert, C-Square and Netmeds. 

Reliance struck a deal with Netmeds’ parent firm Vitalic for about $83.2 million for 60% stake in the pharma marketplace. This deal grants Reliance a 100% ownership of Vitalic’s subsidiaries which are valued at about $134 million. RIL has said by April 2024 it wants to expand its ownership to 80% in Vitalic.

Reliance previously invested ₹10 crores in health-tech app Karexpert and integrated the services with Jio Health Hub. C-Square sold 82% stake to RIL, the company is entering a new rising vertical and is likely to dominate it.

ePharmacy is seeing exponential growth with many people opting for online purchase of medicine and consultation, this is resulting to be beneficial for the ePharm companies.

Netmeds delivers medicines, personal and baby care items, along with booking doctors and diagnostics on its website and app. This company had been looking for a buyer, and the pandemic provided that, through the deal with Reliance.

“Netmeds enhances Reliance Retail’s ability to provide good quality and affordable healthcare products and services. It also broadens its digital  commerce proposition to include most daily essential needs of consumers.”

Isha Ambani,  the director of Reliance Retail Ventures

The news of the RIL and Netmeds deal comes a week after Amazon announced the launch of its e-pharmacy service in Bengaluru, which it plans to expand in the rest of the country soon.

Amazon struck a deal with Netmeds, 1mg, PharmEasy and Medlife, as an attempt to expand in the ePharmacy market. 

Factors contributing to the growth of online pharmacies in India

  • ePharmacy companies are compliant with the IT Act & the Drugs and Cosmetics Act – legalities enable the industry to grow constantly. 
  • A significant amount of external funding is occurring in this market, with fundraising visions crossing the 150 million mark. 
  • This industry has also experienced government compliance with the draft of the pharmaceutical policy in 2015. The Niti Aayog’s three-year roadmap on the development of e-pharmacies too eased the growth.
  • ePharmacy offers pocket-friendly checkup packages to the customers, discounts, free consultations, etc, initiatives like this have helped the industries growth.

The future of ePharmacy

  • Consumer awareness: aligning activities to educate the common consumers with the policies, legality, etc will help the industry grow stably.
  • Quality assurance: purchase assurance & safety policies should happen by dealers before selling and buying the medicines online.

With the demand for increased convenience and instant solutions, ePharmacy has the potential of becoming a hit. Rural areas too show tremendous growth, which will allow the online medicine market to expand throughout India. 

Firsts to watch out for this Festive Season

The festive season is right around the corner and it’s experiencing a 75% jump, against the nearly $4 billion gross sales last year. This jump will record a two year high, with the gross sales amount predicted to reach $7 billion. 

A report by Redseer found that last year online retail recorded was 3% with as much as 135 million online users purchasing online. But with the onslaught of the pandemic, social distancing, and financial crunches, consumers now prefer online shopping with its convenience and festive sales. To adapt to this surge of sales eCommerce companies have adopted new strategies to meet the demands. 

eCommerce Preparation: 

Flipkart has announced that it will be creating jobs for 70000 people which will include posts in its supply chain management.

The Walmart owned e-commerce giant has cited the upcoming festive season and the Big Billion Days sale for this mass recruitment drive. Additionally, Flipkart has partnered with Max Fashion, Max has a strong presence in the fashion vertical and with this tie-up, both the brands will experience higher reach and profitability. 

Amazon India, keeping up with its competitors has introduced 4 new languages, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, in order to woo the consumers and offer a more personalised shopping experience. Furthermore, with plans to make 10 new warehouses operational, this expansion will create thousands of jobs this festive season. The consumers can expect steep discounts & cashback across all classifications, and with Amazon’s, Alexa and voice-enabled shopping experiences consumers can shop easy.

Entering the market, the new competitor JioMart will pose a challenge to the other two giants, by combining both online and offline retail. However, being new to the eCommerce industry Jio will likely pose a limited threat

This festive season, consumers interestingly have shown interest, not in conventional electronics items but essentials, including groceries and work-from-home products such as laptops, single-item furniture, kitchenware and comfortable fashion. And according to reports 50Cr. Studies suggest Indians will buy 50,000 Lakh items this festive season. 

Demographics:

Covid-19 has caused a surge in first-time users of tier II & III cities. Reports done by Redseer and Unicommerce suggests that shoppers from these regions will be the top contributors to online sales during this year’s festive sales with more than 50% of purchases coming from Tier-II and beyond locations. While people from metro cities and tier-1 cities will be contributing to 35% and 25% of the sales respectively. 

Logistics & Supply-chain: 

The logistics and supply chain will determine the success of the festive season and the performance of the companies, hence Industry executives are working with sellers and brands to overcome supply-chain and investment issues and meet the surge in demand. A higher number of shipments are likely to occur with its peak being 7.5-8 million shipments a day during the festive season. Hence, efforts are taken to create a seamless supply chain with a glocal outlook.

The firsts this year: 

  • Massive Growth: COVID-19 has enabled massive growth in new consumers, that prefer to shop in a manner that is convenient, safe, and hygienic and the eCommerce space meets these requirements
  • Offline recovery: Physical shopping is still weak as consumers are still apprehensive about visiting touchpoint areas like malls and retail outlets.
  • Demand: Surge of demand will likely occur in eCommerce platforms with its sales and offers for products in the category of work from home/ study from home, this has subsequently will increase the demand for categories like small electronics, home furnishings, and electronic accessories.
  • Jio: Jiomart has entered the retail market with its online and offline retail stores. This will play a moderately strong role in growing sales in smaller cities, especially if strong integration with fashion/electronics commodities.
  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat: A strong push towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

With digital adoption, the shift with traditional offline shoppers moving online, and a change in consumer behaviour. This festive season will offer opportunities for eCommerce companies to grow and learn about the current consumers and their dynamic market. 

THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON ECOMMERCE

COVID-19 shifted the whole ecosystem of markets and has made an impact that can be deemed long-lasting. Consumer behaviour has seen a change, purchase decisions have seen a shift and the usual flow of businesses is left disrupted. But along with the many disruptions, this pandemic has brought about changes and enhanced technological growth. The eCommerce and marketplace sector have specifically witnessed this growth.

The pandemic has accelerated India’s e-commerce market almost threefold and sped up growth that is pegged to be around $85 billion by 2024, even with other sectors being negatively impacted. 

India has seen a rise in the number of FTUs or first-time-eCommerce-users in India, who had previously been inhibited to shop online. Some eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal have even returned to the level of pre-COVID time. Other eCommerce players like Grofers, BigBasket, Lenskart, etc have also seen a rapid increase in various services. Many new players are entering into this marketplace noting the opportunities available. eCommerce companies can further expect: 

  1. An influx of online shopping: 

As stated with a record number of FTUs in India and brick-and-mortar and kirana stores closed and with lower footfall than usual, there is an increase in sales on eCommerce platforms.  There has been a switch from malls and supermarkets to eCommerce for everyday commodities. Companies can use this to their advantage and provide good deals. Companies like BigBasket had seen such an influx and demand of goods that they had to restrict access to their website to existing customers only, while Grofers – a rival, had faced a similar situation.

A conversation with TN Hari, Head of HR from Big Basket in April 2020 helped gain insight into changing consumer behaviour and adaptations to the new normal. As rightly predicted, the shift from offline to online in all sectors has been perceived as the need for the hour.

  1. More efficient and convenient models:

Online shopping offers the convenience of not having to go out to shop and waste time waiting in lines and scrolling through items, all it takes is just a click on a button to purchase a product that will be delivered right at your doorstep. However, eCommerce platforms should ensure efficiency in logistics and supply chain flow. Myntra’s End of Reason Sale had integrated and collaborated 400 offline stores of more than 60 brands. The items that were purchased shipped directly from the brands’ stores to the consumer’s doorsteps. Allowing for a more seamless supply chain and providing convenience to the consumers. There is also a significant rise in the number of convenient shopping models like BNPL gaining prominence among the Indian consumers.

  1. Increase in essential and corona virus-related products:

Shopping habits and consumer behaviour has seen change during the pandemic. Ecommerce companies are being required to sell essential items as a way to have an edge and meet consumer demands. Products like soaps, sanitizers and health care items have a market of its own now. ePharmacy has seen an increase in India, with numerous investors looking on ways to invest in ePharm companies. Amazon has also noticed the shift in consumer behaviour and adapting to the pandemic is said to have prioritised delivery of essential items garnering appreciation and an increase in its sales from customers. 

  1. Digital transformation: 

Kirana stores have been the crux of Indian System. But, now with the virus outbreak, people are looking out for alternatives. This has offered digitalisation and upskilling of Kirana stores to adapt to changes. Companies like Flipkart in an attempt to streamline this unorganised sector have tied up with these stores for provisions and delivery while still supporting their development. 

This pandemic has gauged a segment of shoppers that previously have not purchased online to now rely on it. Consumer buying habits are constantly changing and companies need to follow efficient ways to get FTUs hooked on while still retaining existing customers. 

With the rising adoption of Omnichannel solutions across sectors and focus on digital transformation eCommerce companies have seen and will continue to see tremendous opportunity and growth amidst COVID.

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.

THE BUY-NOW-PAY-LATER MODEL IS HERE TO STAY, AT LEAST THESE ECOMMERCE GIANTS THINK SO

The pandemic has seen major shifts in the market and one among the many are payment methods. In the pre-COVID period, consumers opted to pay for over 60% eCommerce transactions in cash (Cash on Delivery), but after the pandemic, it is safe to quote that the vast majority is opting for digital transactions. This digitalisation has led to new developments in the eCommerce marketplace. With various companies trying to woo consumers, a number of options are being offered to enhance the buying experience of consumers and make it more convenient.

One such option that is taking this industry by storm is the Buy-now-pay-later payment method. This feature allows the consumer to purchase the service or product at that instant and as the name suggests pay for it later or in installments. Further delving into the topic, a few companies take an interest in the cost of the product while others take the principle as credit. The credit from Buy-now-pay-later service is essentially the same as a credit in a credit card, but with a digitalised disguise.

Various Indian companies have jumped on the BNPL wagon, with an attempt to have an edge over their competitors.

FLIPKART

Flipkart, an eCommerce heavyweight has also featured the buy-now-pay-later scheme. Although, the working of this service is still in the beta stage, and is only available to certain android users. The working of it allows customers to purchase products up to a predefined credit limit without having to pay immediately. However, the outstanding amount needs to be paid by the 10th of the next month.

“Everybody loves shopping, and everybody loves shopping on Flipkart. But, scrambling for cash for COD purchase or getting out your debit or credit cards for online payments and typing in OTPs every time you make a purchase can be a hassle. If only there was a simpler way to make all this easier. Well, now, there is.”

Flipkart

Features:

  • Instant credit up to ₹5,000
  • 30-second application process
  • One-click checkout
  • Zero cost up to 35 days
  • Single bill for all purchases

With the festive season fast approaching, the BNPL option may just be the feature that lets people let loose and shop to their heart’s content.

AMAZON

eCommerce giant, Amazon, has also launched a pay later feature to its Indian customers. Under these payment options, customers can avail credit with zero interest rates on any listed products. The customers are provided with an option to repay the amount in monthly installments up to 12 months. However, there are various requirements in order for a person to avail of Amazon’s pay later option including being 23 years old and above, providing valid identification along with their PAN card, bank account number, etc.

Key Benefits:

  • Get an instant decision on your credit limit by the lender.
  • Credit card details not required.
  • No processing or cancellation fee.
  • No pre-closure charges.
  • Seamless checkout on Amazon.in using Amazon Pay Later payment option.
  • Simplified tracking of expenses and repayments on the EMI specific dashboard

The Pay Later feature is also a mobile-only experience that enables a smooth buying experience on the app.

PAYU

LazyUPI, a product offered by PayU Finance, is also following the Buy-now-pay-later model but has integrated it with a UPI. This unique digital service works on the same lines and offers credit across online and offline platforms. It allows customers to make part-repayments and has a minimum amount due along with conventional interest rates. These services have provided opportunities for start-ups to model around the buy-now-pay-later option and have given a fresh sense of innovation to mobile wallet services and eCommerce platforms. Various eCommerce platforms including  Big Basket, Myntra, MakeMyTrip, etc, have integrated this service into their sites.

Key Benefits:

  • One tap payment
  • Settle payments every 15 days
  • Repay with EMI
  • Integrated across 250+ sites

The buy-now-pay-later concept in layman terms is similar to that of a credit card. However credit cards too are evolving into the BNPL model, as it fits better with millennial consumers that are looking for convenience and affordability. Credit cards offer high rates of interest and low transparency, but with few eCommerce platforms offering a zero-interest-rate and a long payback period, one can certainly understand the rave behind this service. 

While BNPL offers convenience consumers should look out and align themselves with certain habits to ensure maximum efficiency:

  • Note the limit and have only one BNPL account at a time
  • Budgeting needs to be made important to avail the BNPL option
  • Be committed to repaying the companies to avoid interests

The Buy-now-pay-later model is not a new concept and can be compared with the Indian Khata system, where customers were allowed to pay the entire bill at one-go which was typically towards the end of the month. This age-old concept was given a digital spin and the buy-now-pay-later model was created. With the disruptions and numerous opportunities that lie ahead, brands need to keep an eye out for this service and invest to integrate it with their current functioning.

CONTENT MARKETING FOR E-COMMERCE – How Content Can Change Your eCommerce Game

eCommerce is one of the biggest platforms for businesses to rise and shine above all. It helps the business to reach every potential customer and get them going with the required goods or services. But, that is not all as people’s living standards and tastes dynamically influence the demand. Thus, they expect the best of services offered to them by the various business concerns.

eCommerce giants have developed numerous strategies to counter this issue via advertisements, discounts, incentives, SAP Hybris, Intershop, and WCS. But this isn’t sufficient to lure customers and gain their trust over the internet.

Content marketing for eCommerce has gained immense significance to provide exciting content to the customers. Strategies such as tips and tricks, DIYs, and much more are more important than the price competition among different sellers.

Content marketing strategies such as video descriptions for products and other related videos or images can help convert sales into revenue. Referred to as A+ pages on Amazon, content marketing for eCommerce includes the use of HD images, videos, infographics, and FAQs to attract buyers. This brings customers to finalize their decision to buy goods and thus bringing in revenues.

On the other hand, a brand store page on Amazon is also beneficial to create multiple pages for your brand and discuss your visions, business ethnic, product values and use. In short, you can create a complete nutshell for your brand online.

Integrating content and eCommerce

  • SEO optimized content to drive traffic

The best way to drive customers to your website is by using Search Engine Optimized content to highlight your website amongst other competitors. This makes your site the top most searched website and brings more customers as they tend to fall for the topmost searched website. Content marketing for eCommerce has SEO tools as the topmost priority amongst all others. SEO optimized content for eCommerce and marketplaces can refer to well laid out product descriptions, bullet points with key attributes that people are actively looking for A+ pages that act both as SEO rich branded content and an extended content piece to enhance sales by adding value.

  • Using images to bring reality

One way to attract customers is by uploading the products’ images by the business concern. It will entice customers to get attached to the business and rely on the standards of the products sold. Also, you can post about the best products to buy in a particular season. Good images with well thought out cataloging and direction can enhance the buyer’s decision by highlighting key features and attributes that make the product unique.

  • Amazon Ad copies.

eCommerce can be a thriving option when you partner with other eCommerce giants such as Amazon by selling the products using their platforms. One of the ways to follow such a path is Amazon Ad copies wherein you can pay for the advertisement section when someone types a related keyword.

This is similar to using SEO optimized content for being the topmost website. There are two options for the advertisements – headline ads and sponsored ads. Amazon content strategies help eCommerce businesses gain advantages over others.

Final Word

eCommerce uplifts the company and helps gain a competitive advantage over the vast market. Also, the eCommerce websites following serious content marketing strategies differentiate them from mediocre pages. Certain websites lay focus on providing services to the customers, thereby neglecting on luring customers and enhancing their customer-business relations.

Content marketing is the major difference between a product page and a mediocre page and has immense significance while extending vision towards the growth and development of eCommerce. Also, the product pages use rich content such as images, videos, and quotes to stabilize the customer’s interest and provide them with the best products and information.

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