How to Choose the Right Marketplace for Your Products

Once you decide that you want to sell online, the first question that you have to answer is where. There are a lot of options. You can either go for one or more of the innumerable sales channels that make up the online retail horizon, or fly solo and open up your own online store. Also, if you do go for the sales channels option, which ones do you subscribe to? And how many of them? These are tough decisions, and we are here to help you with them.

Let’s understand first what an online marketplace offers you. An online marketplace is your virtual store – your customers will be able to browse through your products here and make purchases. What online sales channels do is they assist you in this process in the following ways –

  1. They let you create product catalogs and list them on their virtual real estate
  2. They provide you with a customer base
  3. They act as middlemen during the transaction
  4. They assist you with the logistics part of the process

In return, they take a certain percentage commission from each sale. You also have to adhere to their rules and policies, and they have the power to penalise you if you don’t. Essentially, the store might be yours, but it’s their mall. As opposed to this, having your own online store gives you back your sovereignty in the virtual world. Let us look at the pros and cons a little more deeply.

How to Choose Where to Sell Online

  • Analyze Your Product

If you are just a retailer, it does not make much sense for you to open your own online store, especially in popular product categories like electronics and apparel. These are high volume markets, with a massive demand and a supply that just barely matches it. As opposed to that, if you are a manufacturer too, or are selling a niche product, you can really develop your brand from ground up in the online world. Subscribe to a marketplace which is popular for selling products in your category.

  • Logistics Support

Think about logistics before subscribing to marketplaces. If a particular sales channel is inept in providing logistical assistance around the area where your warehouses are situated, you will be in a tight spot. If you plan to start your own marketplace, study logistics providers carefully. We have already written extensively about logistics providers here and here.

  • Marketplace Popularity

Sales channels like Amazon and Flipkart are pretty much synonymous to online retail in today’s market. The top few sales channels generally are the consumers’ first choice when it comes to shopping online. Subscribing with one or more of them means you get access to that big a customer base. Having your own online store means starting from scratch.

  • Competition

The other side of the coin is the immense competition that one finds on these huge online sales channels. There are multiple sellers jostling together for the same product, differentiated only by little things like product descriptions, photographs and seller ratings. It sure is a tough market.

  • Brand Image

Subscribing to an online sales channel doesn’t give you much room in terms of growth. Here, people don’t buy products from ‘seller123’; they buy products from Flipkart or Amazon. You are reduced to a nameless provisioner. This is bad because this way, you cannot grow your brand image. On the other hand, on a dedicated store, you can carefully tailor your brand image by harnessing the power of social media. Amazon recently started allowing sellers to use their dedicated website to funnel transactions through their Amazon accounts. This way, you get all the benefits of subscribing to an online store while preserving your brand image.

  • Subscription Cost

Different sales channels have different subscription costs and commission plans. In return, they also offer different essential and optional services. It is better to shortlist a few channels and then carefully go through their specific plans to choose the ones that you want to go for.

For any more information about sales channels and online retail in general, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!

Tier 2, 3 Cities as Potential Markets for Online Retail

India’s online retail market can be subdivided into two parts in terms of the geography – the so called tier 1 cities, which include the metropolises and the highly developed industrial and cultural hubs and the tier 2 and 3 cities which include the so called developing regions around the country.

The disparity between these two parts is pretty blatant – tier 1 cities are prioritized in terms of most amenities, they are valued more within a state since they contribute more to the economy and thus they also tend to be more glamorous. In fact, until recently it was thought that the online retail business wouldn’t have much support outside the tier 1 cities. Turns out this is a gross misconception. Although it is true that the online retail business has a huge market in tier 1 cities, the contribution of tier 2 and 3 cities can scarcely be ignored.

Why Should You Focus on Tier 2, 3 Cities for Online Retail?

  • United They Stand

As of the 2011 census, there are 8 tier 1 cities in India – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. As compared to these, there are as many as 3,133 tier 2 and 3 cities and more than 1,233 rural hubs. While one third of India’s 1.2 billion population lives in tier 1 through 4 cities, only 8% of these reside in tier 1 cities. This means that, an online seller cannot ignore the combined volume of the more than 4,500 cities and hubs that make up the rest of India.

  • Mobile Power

Mobile technology is revolutionizing the tier 2 and 3 markets, according to this Forrester report. Half the shoppers in tier 3 cities are already on mobile, as compared to the one third from tier 1 cities. Cheaper smartphone technology and the growing range of connectivity in Indian towns seem to be the root cause of these figures, and an online retailer must not ignore them. In fact, the m-commerce market in India is slated to reach $19 billion by 2019.

  • Women are the Dominant Force

The same Forrester report further asserts that women are the driving force in tier 2 and 3 online retail markets. In fact, they spend more than twice as much money online as men from the same geographical markets do. This is an important piece of information for online retailers to consider while building a sales and marketing strategy.

  • Indian Online Retail Market Geography

According to this Accel Report, the top three markets for online retail in India are –

  1. Delhi-NCR
  2. Karnataka
  3. Maharashtra

Similarly, the markets with very little e-commerce presence are –

  1. Bihar
  2. Uttarakhand
  3. Chhattisgarh
  • New Buyers

In 2011, the cities of Pune and Ahmedabad were upgraded to receive the tier 1 status. As more and more cities develop, their markets will grow. In fact, many tier 2 and 3 cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. It has been estimated that 70% people from tier 1 and 2 cities who do not currently make online purchases will do so in the next 12 months. As services like internet become more and more available to newer areas around India, tier 2 and 3 markets – unsaturated by over competition and having room to breathe, are the real markets to watch out for.

To know more about tier 2 and 3 markets, or in case of queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solution experts and we are always happy to help!

Hottest Product Categories in Indian Online Retail

Online retail profits have been leapfrogging for the past few years in India. Especially with the advent of cheap smartphone technology and the enthusiasm online retail platforms have provided in terms of m-commerce, online sales have truly skyrocketed. The first question every prospective online retailer has in mind is – ‘What do I sell?’ There are differing answers to this question, depending upon various perspectives.

One way is to figure out the most popular product to sell and enter the extremely competitive market. Since a large market base is divided by many suppliers, you are bound to get a small share, but the opportunity for growth is slow. The other way is to create a market base using a niche product. This article makes a good case for this strategy. Also check out Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Phenomenon, which describes this course of action, is detail.

The point is, whichever way you go, you do need to know about the current demand trends in the market. These trends can directly affect you, or they can affect you through a secondary market basis. But it is important to know. Therefore we are providing information about the Indian online retail market in this post, and its current demand trends and hottest product categories. Let’s take a look.

Demand Trends in the Indian Online Retail Market in 2015

Market Description

The total turnover of the e-commerce market in India is supposed to hit $16 billion in 2016. Of this, nearly 31% belongs to online retail and 61% belongs to the travel industry while the rest can be chalked up to wholesale and other services. According to the data gathered by Accel India, the number of internet users in India will grow to more than 400 million by 2016. Of these, more than 60% generally frequent e-commerce websites. The conversion rate from visitors to buyers is expected to jump to 2.9% from 2.7% in 2013. This means that the gross turnover due to online retail will exceed $8.5 billion in 2016.

Hot Product Categories

According to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, or IAMAI, mobile phones and their accessories are the highest selling items on online retail websites like Flipkart and Snapdeal. The online retail industry, growing at the rate of more than 33% currently, favours various product categories in the following order –

  1. Mobile phones and accessories: Mobile phones and accessories hold a 41% market share with sales worth around Rs. 9,936 crore.
  2. Apparel, footwear, etc.: Personal items like apparel, footwear and other accessories come second in the race for the most popular online retail category. They cover around 20% of the market with sales upwards of Rs. 4,699 crore.
  3. Consumer Durables: Consumer durables like kitchen appliances and other accessories account for 14% of the online retail market. The sales in this category have been worth Rs. 3,404 crore.
  4. Laptops/notebooks/other electronic items: Laptops and other electronic items consist of 10% of the market with sales up to Rs. 2,780 crore
  5. Home furnishings: Home furnishings show sales of Rs. 1,059 crore
  6. Books: Books have garnered sales of Rs. 648 crore.

These are some of the sales figures for the year 2014-15. We hope these will help you in your strategy to sell on online platforms.

For any help or queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions experts and we are always happy to help!

Want to sell overseas? Here’s 5 online marketplaces to explore!

India has one of the fastest growing e-commerce industries in the world, in terms of both supply and demand. With the total turnover of the Indian e-commerce market slated to cross $16 billion in 2015, its growth can only be described as meteoric. But it is no wonder that an entrepreneur would look at the overseas market for sales. Overseas markets offer some obvious benefits over the Indian e-commerce market. Firstly, the rate of exchange makes a huge difference when it comes to profit markups. Secondly, a product may find itself in a refreshingly unique position in an overseas market as compared to the oversaturation it might face in the domestic one.

The Indian e-commerce market is starting to realize the importance of this foreign investment. Of course, a lot of strategizing is required before making the decision to enter a foreign market. Doing so prematurely may be disastrous for your business. The important factors to consider before entering an overseas market are the trade routes, rates of exchange, recognizing potential markets, shipping costs, customs and taxes, etc. Once you have done these calculations and zeroed in on a potentially lucrative market, you can look for ways to enter it. There are many ways to enter the overseas markets. Having your own website is probably the easiest, although you would have to put in a lot of effort in branding and marketing it for a foreign customer base.

There are a few Indian online marketplaces that let you sell your products overseas. We have compiled a list of the top 5 such marketplaces.

Marketplaces that let You Sell Overseas

  1. Amazon

Amazon.in recently started allowing its third party sellers to sell their products overseas. Amazon is especially tapping the market for ethnic apparel, handcrafted items, shoes, yoga books, etc. for its US and UK customers. As of May 2015, when the service began, over 200 sellers had already started using it to sell their products on the global market. Amazon is especially looking at the 25 million Indians who live outside India as a viable target market.

  1. eBay

eBay India also provides the service of letting its third party sellers sell their products overseas In fact in 2012, eBay rallied so that its online sellers with international sales would get an ‘exporter’ status, thus giving them various tax and customs exemptions. Selling internationally with eBay is quite easy, and the company provides a range of tools and tips for sellers wanting to do so.

  1.  Alibaba

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba also facilitates Indian vendors to sell their wares on the global market. In fact, the number of Indian listings on Alibaba is second only to China. For its Indian venture, Alibaba has partnered with ICICI bank and the Indian logistics provider Mypacco.com.

  1. Etsy

The go to site for everything handmade also lists Indian sellers. Although this is just a one way street – Etsy does not deliver in India. Indian handcrafted products, though, are a hit on the platform, as witnessed by sellers like Everything Indian and Anek. Etsy does not provide shipping and logistics services for its Indian sellers, so these responsibilities have to be borne by the vendors themselves.

  1. Craftsvilla

Craftsvilla is another Indian company that lets you list your products on the global market. Craftsvilla has already garnered a reputation in India and abroad for its tasteful and authentic handcrafted products. To be an internationally listed seller on Craftsvilla, you need to complete the VillaPay seller registration on their website.

These are some of the top online platforms that let Indian vendors sell their products on the global market. To know more about individual procedures or for any other queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions providers and we are always happy to help!

Top 5 Price Comparison Sites in India

Price comparison sites are the lifeblood of online retail. A good online customer spends as much time on a price comparison site as they spend on the actual online sales platform. It is no wonder that today there are quite a few price comparison sites available for the Indian online market.

Price comparison sites are extremely useful for online sellers too. They provide a detailed database to compare competitor prices and help you strategise accordingly. So it is important even for online sellers to know the good price comparison sites in India. With this aim in mind, we have compiled a list of the top 5 price comparison sites that operate in the Indian market. Take a look!

Top Price Comparison Sites in India

  1. Junglee

Junglee is Amazon’s pet price comparison website for India. It began as a virtual database that was used to acquire information off the internet and provide it to enterprise applications. But it soon grew into a single window source for location, comparison and transaction of millions of products across the internet. You just need to search for the product you are looking for, and Junglee will find all the Indian online marketplaces the product is listed on, along with the pricing.

  1. CompareRaja

CompareRaja was launched in July 2012, and has been one of the leading price comparison sites for the Indian market. Apart from thorough price comparisons and some sweet deals through coupons, the best part about CompareRaja is that you can access it via their website, their iOS/Android apps or their Chrome/Firefox extension.

  1. MySmartPrice

MySmartPrice offers price comparisons chiefly in the categories of electronic gadgets like computers, laptops and mobile phones, men’s’ and women’s’ fashion and home appliances. They offer comprehensive listings and price comparisons and also have a Chrome extension.

  1. PriceDekho

PriceDekho is one of India’s leading price comparison websites with over 1.5 crore products from more than a hundred online sellers. They have been chosen as the best price comparison website in India for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014 by “Website of the Year India”. They also have Android and iOS apps for price comparison.

  1. 91Mobiles

91Mobiles is a price comparison website that specializes in electronics, particularly in mobile phones. It has a wide array of products and one of the most comprehensive listings when it comes to electronic items. What we really like about this website is that they also have in-house reviews for their products. Check out their website or their app.

Apart from the above, honourable mention should be given to CNN IBN’s CompareIndia, MyPriceIndia and SmartPrix.

If you want to know more about price comparison websites, or anything else related to online retail, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions providers, and we are always happy to help!

How to choose the right domain for your online store

It can be a daunting process to set up a new website, especially if that website is crucial for your business. If you are an online retailer looking to branch out and host your own online store, this article is for you. Designing a website is just a fraction of this process. Various intrinsic systems that actually run the website have to be coded and set up. But before one goes into the business of actually making the website, one has to go through a few steps – your website’s domain has to be registered and a web host has to be appointed. But what is domain name registration?

Every website that you visit on the internet is registered to a domain. It’s like finding somebody’s phone number in a phone book. You look for John Smith in the book and you find the number. Similarly, when you type www.browntape.com on your internet browser, the computer searches through an online directory of domain names and addresses to locate the address for the Browntape website. These addresses are numerical, and usually go something like 179.121.134.0. This number is the address of your website, and you need to register that address with a registry so that other computers can find it by searching for your domain name.

For international domain suffixes like .com, .org, .info, etc. the official registry is the ICANN, or Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers. For an Indian domain name like .co.in, the authority is called INRegistry. There are many licensed domain name registrars that register your website domain in these authorities. They charge you according to the fees required to register your domain type plus a certain amount for the services that they offer. Many domain registrars also provide extra services that include 24×7 assistance and troubleshooting, customer service, etc.

Things You Must Know Before Registering Your Domain

  • Do a Thorough Background Check

The domain registration business is full of sharks and crooks that are out to get your money. Scams are pretty common here, especially since you rarely physically visit the domain registrar’s office. Firstly, you must check whether the registrar is truly affiliated with ICANN and INRegistry. Thoroughly check their reviews and if possible talk to a few people who have subscribed to their services.  Reading the fine print here is extremely important, because many outfits are designed to scam you on the basis of your signature on the dotted line.

  • Check for Customer Support

Once your site is live, tech support is going to be your basic necessity. You don’t want to be in a situation where your website is down due to DNS errors, errors in transferring the domain or transferring administrative privileges and you don’t have anyone on hand to fix your problems. This delay would cost you valuable time and money. Many registrars offer you basic plans with nominal tech support and ask you to upgrade for a more hands-on support experience. You shouldn’t mind spending a few bucks extra at the outset rather than to suffer heavy losses in the future.

  • SSL Certification

For an online retailer, SSL certification is of paramount importance. SSL certificates are tiny data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s files. When installed on a web server, they create a digital padlock and provide a safe connection between the server and the browser. Typically, SSL certificates are required for monetary transactions over the internet, among other secure data transfer. As somebody who is in charge of overseeing hundreds of online transactions, you must make sure that your domain registrar also provides you with SSL certification.

  • Web Hosting

Although there are many organizations that offer specialized web hosting services, it makes more sense to avail them from your domain registrar itself. This way you only have to deal with one tech support team instead of two and it might also be cheaper for you in the long run.

  • Pricing

Finally, the pricing. One big misunderstanding about web hosting is that the prices depend upon the domain name. That is not true. You don’t have to pay more for a longer domain name, for instance, or a better one. What the pricing depends upon is the suffix that you want to register to. International suffixes like .com would cost a bit more, as compared to something like .co.in. Here is a list of a few reputed domain registrars and their pricing policies.

If you need any more info about domain name registration for your online store, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

5 Best Marketplaces to Sell Handmade Items in India

India has an incredible history and culture of arts and handicrafts. Every region in India has a particular craft as its specialty – from Rajasthan miniatures to Kalighat in Bengal. Apart from these traditional arts, there are many talented individuals adept at making some of the most interesting and beautiful works of art and craft around India. Online retail gives all of them the chance to showcase their art and earn a living using them. Of course, these talented entrepreneurs tend to be invisible in the online megastores like Flipkart and Amazon due to the sheer size and scope of the platform. But there are platforms available, which not only facilitate, but also celebrate these handmade, handcrafted items.

Etsy is a perfect example of a similar concept applied to a marketplace. Anyone can sell anything on Etsy, as long as it’s hand made. This makes Etsy a vibrant space full of extremely talented individuals and some amazing works of art. Unfortunately, Etsy does not operate in India. But that does not mean there aren’t any alternatives.

Let’s check them out!

Online Marketplaces for Handicrafts in India

  1. CraftsVilla

CraftsVilla proclaims that it is an online marketplace to discover India. The website sells products like traditional apparels like sarees, hand crafted gift items, home decor and accessories. The products come from individual suppliers and artisans who are working with traditional Indian handicrafts and arts. While big conglomerates are always on the lookout for smaller marketplaces to swallow, CraftsVilla has been maintaining its niche.

  1. AfDay

AfDay, or Art for Everyday, is an online marketplace started by founder Rashmi Daga, an IIM-A alumna. Her vision was to bring the Indian consumer closer to various designers and craftsmen who create art out of everyday objects. A great USP for AfDay is its Custom Made section, where you can request the designer to create customized products according to your taste.

  1. ItsHandMade

ItsHandMade is a Bangalore based startup that specializes in selling handmade novelty items and accessories. You don’t need to be a wholesaler or a business owner to sell on ItsHandMade. You can be a one-time seller, or a seasonal seller or a perpetual seller according to your inclination. As long as you are not a mass producer or a retailer, you are good to go. This is good because you know that all products sold on this website are actually handmade!

  1. SaffronArt

SaffronArt is the biggest online marketplace for artworks in India. Like most art markets, it is auction based. It sources paintings and sculptures of artists of the likes of M.F.Hussain, S.H.Raza and even Amrita Shergil, all stalwarts of Indian art. And at the same time, you can find artworks of contemporary artists, folk artisans and handicraft specialists. and other collectibles.

  1. The India Craft House

TheIndiaCraftHouse is one of those rare websites that present the rich folk and handcraft heritage of India in a contemporary format. All the products are sourced directly from artisans or NGOs working closely with folk and artisan communities from all corners of India. Another interesting thing about this website is the ‘Shop by State’ option, which lets you explore the traditional and folk craftsmanship from different states of India.

These are some of the best online marketplaces for handicrafts in India. To know more get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions providers and we are always happy to help!