Better Order Management: The Secret to Your Success in Online Retail

Although the modes of retail have changed drastically over the years, the concept remains the same – the sale and purchase of goods or services from a business to an end-user. What once used to be chains of physical stores and multitudes of storehouses to provide for each of them is now steadily becoming online mega-stores, websites and apps. Transactions are happening at a much faster rate than they used to, as new markets keep being discovered. But a basic tenet of sales stands the test of time and technology: better order management results in better sales. Here we give you a few good reasons why you should drop everything else and start making your order management better.

How Better Order Management

Leads to Better Sales

1. It Helps You Deal with the Growing Number of Sales Channels

It is imperative that adding new sales channels in your arsenal means that your business is growing steadily. But new sales channels come with their own set of problems. New sales channels mean integrating them to the existing inventory, making sure that the warehouse is stocked to provide for the new customers, managing shipping through new sources and territories, etc. Having a multi-channel order management system goes a long way in integrating and managing your new sales channels. Even when your business grows to an extent that you are seriously contemplating a dedicated website or even a mobile site, an order management system will be your best friend while adding new sales channels.

2. It Drastically Reduces Errors in Shipping, Packing and Inventory

A growing business also means a growing amount of paperwork. Invoices need to be printed, shipping labels need to be organised and correct orders need to reach the customer in time. For a small sales channel or two, this can probably be done manually. But this will take you only a small way. After that, you need automated assistance to curb confusion, manual errors and oversights. An order management system automatically prints your correct invoices, takes care of shipping labels and updates and tracks inventory till the end of an individual sale process.

3. It Helps Avoid Overstocking and Under-stocking

A delicate balance connects a warehouse to the sales channel. A healthy warehouse is a ‘well oiled’ warehouse where products keep moving and getting replaced. Mistakes in inventory management lead to understocking and overstocking – case one where there is demand for the product but it is out of stock in the warehouse, and two where the product is eating up space in the warehouse but is unable to move because of lack of demand. Avoiding both cases requires stringent planning and foresight. With the data that is recorded with an order management system, the job of strategizing a bulk sales cycle becomes much more clinical and efficient, thus avoiding under-stocking and overstocking.

4. It Reduces Staffing Costs

Better order management, and employing an order management system reduces staffing costs. This is quite easy to understand – since an order management system is the virtual brain of your business, it takes care of various areas of operation like reception and recording or orders, transitioning them to the warehouse, updating and tracking inventory, managing customers through automated emails, printing shipping labels and invoices, etc. This means that instead of employing individuals or teams to handle these jobs, you can rely on a trusted order management system.

5. It is the Key to Customer Satisfaction

Like we said in the introduction, however evolved the modes of retail are than before, the key to success still remains customer satisfaction. Better order management results in a tight ship, where every order is taken care of with due diligence. A customer is kept informed of the status of his/her order throughout processing, and is never kept in the dark. Since the internal systems and links between the inventory and sales channels is strong, unpleasant situations like back ordering and out-of-stock don’t arise and the customer can be sure that their order reaches them in time. Result, the customer is satisfied.

To know more about better order management and other queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-retail solution providers, and we are always happy to help.

Think You Can Manage Your E-Commerce Campaign Without a Software Provider? Think Again!

Online marketing is a tough game to play. With multiple social media platforms and email, not to mention websites, forums, apps, even games, anything and everything goes in making your ecommerce campaign a success. Of course, you have to face extremely stiff competition and you are more accessible than ever to your customers whether you like it or not. So, do you think you can manage your e-commerce campaign without a software provider?

A marketing campaign usually has two parts – planning and execution. A great marketing strategy can fail miserably if one does not have the right mode of execution and there is no point to accumulation of technology if there is no strategy behind it. A marketing software essentially provides you with a bit of both. It gives you automation technology that makes your job of managing multiple online platforms easily, and it also collects and analyzes data then becomes the bricks to a great strategy. Lets look at what you will miss out on, if you miss out on a marketing software provider.

Why do You Need a Software

Provider for Your Marketing

Campaign?

1. Because it lets you manage multiple platforms effectively

An effective ecommerce campaign is made up of different strategies for multiple platforms coming together to serve a common purpose. A marketing software makes life easier for you by automating the execution of your strategies on your website, mailing list and other social media platforms. Its basically a means to cut down on tedious manual labour and focus on the strategic part of your operation.

2. Because it bridges the gap between marketing and sales

A rookie mistake is to treat marketing and sales as two different spectra of a sphere. Sales is the core of your company, and every branch of your planning and operations must be a supporting act for it. It is paramount therefore, that your marketing strategy must run in tandem with your sales strategy. Marketing softwares help convert leads into quick sales and analyze your sales to help you decide where and how a marketing strategy can be employed.

3. Because it helps shorten the sales cycle

Shortening the sales cycle is important because it is the sign of a healthy business. It means that products are going out as quickly as they are coming in and all processes are running smoothly. A marketing software helps you to deliver highly relevant content to your target market using various media platforms at the right time to boost your sales.

4. Because it provides real-time data and analysis

Marketing data and trends are precious in the world of online sales. Since a campaign is planned to last for at least a month around a sales cycle, it is imperative that the real-time data of the campaign makes a huge difference in the execution of strategy. This is where a marketing software shows most of its potential. Valuable data like clicks-per-page and viewership across various metrics is arranged and collated to be analyzed, which means you can continue with a smarter, more informed marketing campaign.

 

So this is why you need to rethink your choices when it comes to a marketing software provider. Get in touch with us at Browntape for any queries or more information. We are happy to help!

E-commerce Photography: Do I Need to Hire a Professional?

Photography series – Part I

So you have some nice products ready to sell online. All you need now is pictures of what you’ve painstakingly produced, or put together. You decide to click some shots of each of your items, probably touch-up the photos a bit in a popular image processing software, and finally upload them on to various marketplaces. You think this was easy – why pay a professional for it when you can do it yourself for much less cost! But then you notice that the marketplace rejects the pictures. Or it doesn’t, but your products don’t sell enough. Or they do, but the number of requests for returns and exchange is higher than you expected. Now you sit and back-track your steps.

Is it my fault?

There are a number of people and several online sources that will tell you that you need not spend money in good equipment, nor hire professional services to photograph what you want to sell online. You will find innumerable suggestions on how to do it yourself, do it at home and most of them may sound pretty convincing. To top it, you probably have a great Instagram following, your pictures on Facebook gather likes  to the tunes of 3 digits, and your family and friend circle call upon you to click the mandatory group photo (or selfie in some cases). But all this goes to say that photography as an art form is probably what your area of interest and expertise is. But e-commerce photography? That’s a different space altogether.

What? How are the two different?

So what would you say photography as an art is? What is its purpose? It captures a subject, portrays emotion, reflects the perspective of the photographer, provides an unexplored angle to a mundane thing, or is abstract. Much like other creative spaces, photography as an art form has a great degree of involvement of the artist – it’s about his imagination and his perception of the subject.

Now having read that, the difference between photography as an art and e-commerce photography is glaringly obvious. E-commerce photography is done with the intent of selling and of minimizing returns. It aims to do justice to the product by exhibiting it exactly as it is without enhancing or applying filters to make the picture seem more beautiful. An e-commerce photographer must step out of his own shoes, and put on those of a prospective customer. What would a customer want to see, need to know, like to find out? Product photographs have to answer those questions. If not done right, e-commerce photography can either create an illusion of a product which a customer would be disappointed with when he receives his purchase, or would show the product in poor light and lead customers to never pick that product.

Fashion gown non-ecommerce

Fashion Photography is gorgeous, and creative. But does it help your customers decide whether this would suit them or not?

gown e-commerce photography

E-commerce photography is technical, focuses on presenting facts correctly and has less scope for abstract creativity – but it helps your customers understand if this product is for them or not.

 

OK, so what should I do?

As an online seller, you owe it to the prospective customers to replicate the real-life store experience. Of course, there is no way for them to touch and feel the product. However, the sense of sight can come quite close to providing that experience with the help of the right photographs. If you are selling on portals like OLX and Quickr, the photos you click with your 10 Megapixels phone or even from your DSLR will work just fine. But when you’re selling on popular, leading marketplaces, or on your own e-store, hire a professional e-commerce photography service and help reduce the shock your customers get when they finally receive their orders. Quotes are clichéd and you’ve probably read this one before, but we’ll still remind you: if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional for the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

We at Browntape believe e-commerce photography should be taken seriously. With a team of experienced photographers and editors, we click over 500 photos a day across our fully-equipped studios. If you need any help with e-commerce photography, feel free to reach out to Browntape.

Taxation Rules in the E-Commerce Sector in India

The e-commerce sector in India is developing at a frenzied pace, currently estimated at $2.3 billion and slated to leap at $38 billion in the next five years. Names like Flipkart, Ebay and Amazon have become the stuff of households, what with the more than 250 million strong internet user base in India. Setting up an e-commerce startup is becoming easier and easier, with help coming in in terms of developers, designers and inventory management systems. But one thing that most prospective business owners miss talking about is the taxes. At the end of the day, you are selling products and services, and are liable to pay taxes on them. The change in the selling platform from offline to online means two things – 1. the amount of transactions occurring every day grows exponentially, making them more difficult to tax. 2. The variety of products in the market becomes seemingly unlimited, and since tax laws are product and service specific, it becomes tedious to take them into account.

In fact, major e-retail product providers like Flipkart and service providers like Uber are already under scrutiny from government bodies. Here, we tell you what you need to know about taxes in the Indian e-commerce sector.

What are the Types of Taxes that I can Expect?

1. Value Added Tax

Value Added Tax, or VAT applies only to the sale of ‘goods’. The value here, refers to the modifications made to a product before it is sold to the customer. For example, a company selling plain white t-shirts under a brand name adds value to the product in terms of the brand. It will thus have to pay VAT for the sale of the t-shirt. At the same time, a company dealing with ‘services’, like Uber, or OLX will not have to pay VAT since they are just facilitators of a particular service.

2. Service Tax

For service oriented businesses, the government uses Service Tax. ‘Service’ includes practically everything today. The list of taxable services, that was limited to 3 in 1994, has grown to a 114 today. That’s not all, this list is growing at such a rate that the government has decided to go the other way and bring out a list of ‘non-taxable services’, rather than accounting for each and every possible service.

3. Sales Tax

Sales tax is levied on the sale of a commodity, which is produced or imported and sold for the first time. If the product is sold subsequently without being processed further, it is exempt from sales tax. The sales tax in India is levied under the authority of both the Central Government Legislation (Central Sales Tax) and the State Government Legislation (Sales Tax) depending upon whether the sale of goods is inter-state or intra-state.

Which Tax do I Pay as an E-Retailer?

The net taxes that will be incurred upon your business will be comprised of both the above taxes, depending upon the business model. As we saw above, if your e-commerce business does not involve you providing ‘goods’ directly to customers, you will be exempt from VAT or sales tax. But it tends to get more complicated in the real world. Here is an example – if you are providing a product, say alarm clocks, for sale online, you will be charged with sales tax. Depending upon whether the buyer and the seller are in the same state or different, intra-state or inter-state sales taxes will be incurred. But, if the seller charges the customer for the delivery of the product, then he/she is also providing a service to the customer and thus, service tax will be levied. Finally, the product itself will also dictate the type of taxes – the taxes on selling a car will be different than taxes on selling the aforementioned alarm clocks.

What do I do to Reduce My Taxes?

Its very simple – analyse the structure of your enterprise and the relationship with the customer. What exactly are you providing to the customer? Is it just a product or is it a service too? If it is both, are you charging for the service? As an example, if you provide free delivery to the above mentioned alarm clocks, you will not have to pay taxes for the service you provided. In essence, it all comes down to analysing your business and modifying it to suit your needs.

For more information and queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading multichannel inventory management solution providers and we are always happy to help!

Pricing Strategy: It IS Rocket Science

The other day, I went on eBay to buy myself a handheld microscope. What I noticed was that there were multiple sellers selling what seemed to be the same product at different prices, starting from Rs.599 all the way to Rs.1299. It seemed like a very easy choice to not think further and buy the cheapest product, but I faltered. I thought about the cheapest version and how it might be a fake, and the most expensive one, and how it might be overpriced. The result? I ended up buying seemingly the same product from a seller who had priced it at Rs.999. I don’t know whether I made the right choice that day, neither can I attest to the fact that whether a concrete strategy went into deciding the price for the Rs. 999 product. All we can infer from this story is that a) pricing is an intricate art based on a myriad amount of factors and b) sellers who get their pricing right are ultimately successful. Of course, many factors affect pricing, from supply and demand to brand image. But there are a few factors that purely affect decision-making in a very subtle, psychological manner. In this post, we are going to introduce you to some very interesting pricing strategies that might help you in your online sales.

4 Mind Boggling Pricing Strategies

that can Improve Your Sales

1. Is it 99 cents or is it a dollar?

This is the mother of all pricing strategies. The genius who came up with the idea of selling a product just short of a round figure thought this – because we read from left to right, the first figure that we see hits us the most. So, instead of pricing a product for say, Rs.100, when you price it at Rs.99, you’re still in the nineties. This small psychological kink impacts sales so much that now it is a rarity to see products prices not ending with a 9!

2. Similar items, similar prices?

It makes sense to price similar items similarly, right. For example, if you are selling a round neck t-shirt and a v neck t-shirt, same color, size and fabric, you wouldn’t think twice to put the same price tag on them too. But look at this research from Yale University about pricing similar items and you’ll be surprised. Researchers found that, when presented with two similar products with exactly the same prices, more than half the customers deferred from buying. While, even slightly changing the prices resulted in 76% of the customers buying one or the other product.

3. Anchoring

You will find this sales tactic most commonly in the bustling flea markets and thrift stores around you. Anchoring is a cognitive bias that results from the human tendency to heavily rely on the first piece of information that it receives and make their subsequent judgement based on it. So when a street vendor quotes an exorbitant price and then bargains it down to something that seems reasonable, it only seems reasonable because your brain is anchored to the initial unbelievably high price. But we are not asking you to bargain with your customers online. But by simply showcasing a very expensive product next to a normally priced one, you can make the latter seem really cheap. Restaurants use this technique in their menus all the time.

4. Use your words carefully

A Carnegie Mellon University study showed a very interesting phenomenon that highlights how important even the smallest details are in the way you present your price. Sales for a DVD subscription rose 20% when the content was changed from “a $5 fee” to “a small $5 fee.” That simple. Another research paper argues that even a comma can change the way a customer feels about a price. As you can see, you really need to use your characters carefully.

For more interesting pricing strategies and other queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading multi-channel inventory management solution providers and we are always happy to help!

Why Stock Count Audit Should be a Critical Part of Your Weekly Process

Auditing inventory is not the most exciting part of an online retailer’s life, but it is one of the most important. There is no doubt about the fact that accurate inventory is a cornerstone of the sales business. While moving hundreds and thousands of products every week, it is no wonder that one might fall into one of the many pitfalls that come with managing inventory. Failure to keep track of your stock accurately can lead to potentially embarrassing situations for your business and may also lead to much graver problems. In this post, we will tell you exactly why it is so important for you to do a stock count audit on a weekly basis and ensure that your warehouse is running like a well-oiled machine.

Why should you audit your stock

on a weekly basis?

1. Because it prevents items from going out-of-stock

The warehouse is a very busy place with complex mechanisms. It is usually delicately balanced between the extreme ends of supply and demand. The dominance of either end leads to a very unhealthy warehouse. Nobody wants to admit to their customers that the item they want to purchase is out-of-stock. Not only is this a mark of unprofessionalism, but it is also one sale lost. This is why the statistics of the warehouse should always be up-to-date and refreshed regularly.

2. Because it prevents overstocking

Then there is the other extreme – overstocking. Every product in storage is an expense, because you are spending a certain amount of money towards its storage. Ideally, products must keep moving through the warehouse, replaced by new ones. Being lethargic towards your weekly stock figures can lead to overstocking of products. One must especially keep an eye on the slow moving products and their shelf life.

3. Because it benefits your balance sheet

Everything you buy and sell has an asset value. It will appear on your balance sheet as a tangible profit or loss. If you are making a balance sheet on a weekly basis, to check the position of your investments on the go, it makes sense that you parallelly make a stock audit. Maintaining your inventory audit will thus lead to up to date accounting.

4. Because it minimises theft

You don’t want to audit your stock after three months only to realize that a few items are missing/stolen. These instances happen all the time in warehouses, and the most efficient way to minimize them, apart from a few handy security cameras, is regular stock audit.

5. Because it gives you a unique sales perspective

If you do have a great month, your balance sheets will reflect it. What they won’t reflect is the type of items sold and their popularity. Doing a weekly stock audit means that you will have information handy on which of your products are hitting popularity in the market in real time. This is a very agile way of doing business, which means that you can easily take a decision to push or pull products in the market for short periods of time based on your stock analysis, making the most of a sales boom.

6. Because it will help you on your yearly audit

Year-end audits tend to be painstaking procedures and the one thing that can make them simpler is your weekly stock audit reports. Now, instead of trying hard to tally SKU codes with sales reports, all you will need to do is collate your up-to-date weekly audit reports and tie them up with the yearly sales report. It is simple data confirmation as opposed to the more time consuming data entry.

For any doubts or queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading multi-channel inventory management solution providers, and we are always happy to help!

Vastra 2014

Browntape at Vastra 2014

Vastra 2014

Vastra 2014

Conducted by FICCI and RIICO, Vastra 2014 viz “VASTRA- an International Textile and Apparel Fair 2014” saw not only people from the apparel sector, but from all walks of life. Held in Jaipur from 29th to 31st October, the event had the support of several state governments including Rajasthan’s, Gujarat’s and Andhra Pradesh’s.

Browntape set up stall there, sharing exhibition space with other popular e-commerce names such as Flipkart, eBay etc.

Browntape's Stall at Vastra 2014

Browntape’s Stall at Vastra 2014

In a span of 3 days, we interacted with over 500 individuals and businesses, and more than 200 visitors registered with us at our stall. Some visitors were glad to have met us since they were looking for a multi-channel ecommerce solution, and now they found one. Some others walked in with purchase enquiries, several of who even closed the deal with us in a matter of days. To our delightful surprise, several of these visitors were from beyond the apparel sector as expected considering the exhibition focused on apparel. We had a fair representation from Jewelry, Books, Gift Items, Handicrafts etc. among other categories. It was an experience rich in diversity – we met exporters, dealers, manufacturers and retailers, Indians and foreigners.

The exhibition wasn’t limited to all work. One evening was well spent at the Networking Party where service providers and clients didn’t talk business with each other, instead shared a joke or two over good food and drinks.

browntape's vastra selfie

The Vastra Selfie

Such events give a face to the name, and Browntape is excited to be a part of many such happenings!