Being a successful e-commerce business can be very rewarding, but it also requires a lot of careful planning and effort to make it that way. Previously, we have discussed how an online business operation can be divided into three parts – the pre-order stage, the ordering stage and the post-order stage. We have already discussed the order management stage in detail here. Now, let’s look at the processes involved in the pre-ordering stage of an online business.
‘Ordering’ is the aspect of a transaction where the customer initiates contact with you for the express purpose of buying a product. Even though this might arguably be the most important step in the life cycle of a seller’s business, the preparation that goes on before the ordering step is the key to a successful transaction. There are a few systems and best practices that need to be firmly in place for an online business to be ready to successfully take an order. Let us look at 9 major areas in an online transaction that you need to take care of during the pre-order stage.
What to do during the Pre-Order Stage?
1. Do your market research
Probably the first step to take when you are setting up your online business. Nothing beats thorough research when it comes to getting ready for your online sales. Your market research should be broken up into audience research, product research, brand analysis, scanner research, etc. There are many tools available online that will help you conduct a thorough market research.
Filling up your stock should be your next major concern, after market research. The data you have acquired from your market research should be helpful in deciding the amount of stock you wish to warehouse. Be careful while sourcing your inventory, and use trustworthy wholesalers. Create and manage warehousing spaces according to your requirements.
3. Product pricing
Pricing your product can be a delicate balancing act between your costs as a manufacturer/retailer and the amount a customer is ready to pay for the particular product. Again, your analysis and research should come in handy at this stage. Remember that prices are seldom permanent. Keep an eye on your competitors’ pricing with respect to yours, and understand the pitfalls of overpricing and underpricing your product.
4. SKU coding
SKU coding is like the catalogue to the library that is your inventory. And without proper SKU codes, your inventory will just end up being a huge indecipherable pile of products. Having clean, easy to access SKU codes will make your inventory management process very easy. Browntape is one inventory management system that will seamlessly integrate your SKU codes into the day to day processes and transactions. You can benefit from our previously written guide on how to create good SKU codes.
5. Create marketplace accounts/website
Now is the time when you proclaim yourself as an online seller. You can create seller’s accounts on various online marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, Flipkart, etc. according to your preferences. You can also create a dedicated website for your products instead of employing the services of any of these sales channels. Browntape is a multi-channel inventory management system, which means that it will integrate your presence on multiple online sales channels together so that you can easily access all your transactions on one page.
6. List products
Once you have created the necessary accounts on the sales channels of your preference, you need to fill them up with your products. Please make sure to provide accurate and precise information about your products. Be honest and professional in all the content that you display, since you will continuously be judged on the basis of the tone of the information that you provide here.
7. Payment processing
Finally, you will need to set up systems for processing payments from the customers. This means providing tax information, company registration documents, etc. to your online sales channel, so that they can set up a payment gateway for you. Many sales channels have dedicated online payment services in their repertoire, eg. PaisaPay for eBay. At the same time, if you own an individual website, you will need to collaborate with services such as PayPal to get online payment processing available.
8. Packing and Shipping Setup
Major online marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon and eBay among others provide fulfilment models when it comes to packing and shipping products. Signing up with them means that you get to benefit from their packing and shipping tie-ups. But if you own an independent dedicated website, or are affiliated with a marketplace that does not provide these services, you need to set up and manage a shipping and courier provider. Your choice of shipping provider will be based on your location, the service provider’s trustworthiness and quality of service. In this case, you will also have to create systems for shipping costs and managing product returns.
Finally, advertising and marketing are important issues that you will have to think about during the pre-ordering stage. Your goal is to increase the brand visibility by using various means available to you. With various social media platforms, this becomes extremely easy and cost efficient. You will have to spend some time and resources into creating a good level of brand recognition and coming up with a simple and effective marketing strategy. Creating a positive buzz around your brand will definitely go a long way into increasing its sale value.
Now, you are ready to sell your products online. We will look at each of the above points in detail in the subsequent posts, but if you have any queries or doubts regarding the pre-ordering process or anything related to e-commerce business, get in touch with Browntape. We strive to help you achieve success in the online marketplace!