Top 5 Online Marketplaces in India compared

If you’re looking to get into online retail, subscribing to an online marketplace is arguably the quickest way to do so. The market for online retail in India has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. In fact, this Nasscom report says that the Indian e-commerce industry will touch the $100 billion figure by 2020. It is no wonder that there are innumerable online marketplaces for a retailer to choose from. There are online megamalls that let you sell virtually anything under the sun, and there are niche marketplaces like this one that lets you sell only socks. Each marketplace has its own pros and cons, and in this post we are going to compare the top 5 largest marketplaces in India.

Every retailer has a basic set of queries before subscribing to a marketplace. In fact, we have written about the things you need to consider before subscribing to a marketplace right here. There’s subscription fees, packaging and logistics support, payout periods, popular product categories, size of the marketplace, competition, etc. Here, we’ve done a hands on comparison between Flipkart, Amazon, eBay, Snapdeal and ShopClues. These five online sales channels eat up a lion’s share of the Indian online retail market. So let’s see how they match up against each other.

Indian Online Marketplaces: A Head-to-Head Comparison

  • Basic Comparison

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Although eBay is the oldest player in the Indian market among the ones that we are looking at, it is Flipkart and Amazon that are the most popular marketplaces in terms of the number of sellers. A common trend can be seen while analyzing the most popular product categories – apparel, footwear, mobile and consumer electronics seem to be the most sought after products in the Indian marketplace.

  • Pricing

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Flipkart, Snapdeal and Shopclues do not ask for subscription, listing or payment gateway fees. While eBay looks expensive as compared to its competitors, it makes up for this by offering really low commission rates on sales.

  • Logistics

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All the marketplaces that we are considering offer shipping assistance, although only Amazon and eBay allow self-shipping. While Flipkart does not offer packaging assistance, its shipping charges are slightly lower than the rest of the competition.

  • Miscellaneous

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Flipkart seems to be running the game when it comes to social media presence an m-commerce. With m-commerce slated to be the future of online retail in India, these numbers become extremely important.

To know more about these online sales channels or in case of any other query, 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!

How to Create an Effective Call to Action

A Call to Action, or a CTA is probably the oldest, most effective and indispensable marketing tactic around. You can find it being used by a black market ticket vendor outside a box office, TV advertisements, billboards and the internet – virtually every place where someone is trying to sell you something. The anatomy of an advertisement has seen many changes over the years, fuelled by creative ad men and the needs of the format.

But a CTA is a tried and tested method of hooking a customer. The reason is simple – a CTA is supposed to be strong and assertive enough to rouse the customer into buying a product or a service. In fact, it is the most direct and assertive tool in a marketing arsenal to entice a customer. A Call to Action is an unabashedly honest attempt to ask the customer to buy a product, sign up on a website, subscribe to a newsletter, et cetera et cetera.

But of course, there are good CTAs and then there are bad CTAs. But how does one differentiate between them? How does one tailor the perfect CTA? Well, a perfect CTA would ideally mean that it rouses every customer into action. Although that is wishful thinking, one can create a CTA that is persuasive enough to increase your sales voluminously.

Here, we break the CTA down to pinpoint the decisive characteristics that make it either effective or ineffective. Let’s take a look.

Characteristics of an Effective CTA

  • It is Personal

Before employing a Call to Action, you would generally explain what your product or service is about, and how it would benefit the customer. This is the bait. But it is also a bit impersonal. Everyone reading it is going to know that you offer a 30-day free trial on your service, to everyone that subscribes. It is a general notification. But then comes the CTA. ‘What are you waiting for?’ it says. ‘Reclaim your life NOW.’ it says. And the reader goes, who? me? This is the power of a good CTA. It immediately shifts focus from the product to the customer, putting them under a spotlight. A good CTA talks to the customer personally. It is a strong presence, a voice of success that is meant to lead individuals to accomplish their dreams by buying the product.

  • It is Assertive

It has to be. Marketing is a mysterious domain, and you never know what strategy might work. But the chances of an advertisement with a CTA that sounds something like ‘Please please buy our product. Maybe you’ll find it useful’, will generally not work. The beauty of a good marketing campaign is that it makes the customer feel like you are doing them a favor by taking their money, and not the other way round. A CTA must thus be assertive, creating a sense of urgency around the product. It’s a call to action, after all. Of course, being too assertive can also be a problem. You don’t want to scare away your customers.

  • It Employs the Carrot and the Stick

The carrot here can be anything from an assurance to ‘unbelievable benefits’, a promise to ‘experience the thrill of adventure’, a ‘secret to success’ or ‘an offer that comes only once in a lifetime’. It is something that the customer will not be able to say not to. Seriously, who can ever say no to the secret to success? But you are not selling the secret to success. You might even be selling a hair transplant medication. But what you are really selling is the confidence that comes with a fuller head of hair. And if that confidence is not a secret to success, then I don’t know what is. On the other hand, the stick – ‘Hurry, before the offer expires.’, ‘Early birds get 10% off’. These statements tell you that if you don’t buy/sign up with this product NOW, you will be at a loss. Notice that each of these statements is short, smart and succinct. No beating around the bush.

  • Risk Reduction

Call to Action statements work best when the customer is satisfied that there is no risk involved in doing so. This is mainly because Call to Action statements are designed for an immediate, even impulsive response. This means that you have only a few words to convince your customers that they won’t lose anything if they respond to the call to action. This is where you tell them that the 30-day trial is absolutely free.

  • Attention Retention

Finally, a CTA should be to the point. You cannot have a very long or a very boring CTA because it defeats its purpose. Going back to fishing analogies, a good CTA is like a hook – short, sharp and with bait stuck to it.

For more info on how to write a good CTA, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

5 Ways to Improve Abandoned Cart Emails

Imagine a typical shopping experience. A customer is on your website, browsing your products. Maybe they like an item or two. Maybe they mindlessly add those items to their shopping cart. And then, maybe they lose interest, or receive an important email or remember that they had to feed their cat or simply change their mind. In essence, they abandon their shopping cart.

If you’re wondering how plausible this scenario is, take a look at the numbers. Studies show that around 67% shopping carts are abandoned before a customer completes a sale. What these means is that among every three customers who add merchandise to their carts, only one ends up completing the transaction. Does this mean that you are missing out on two thirds of your potential customers? Yes. But there is a way of significantly decreasing this number – the good old email.

Well, you might never be able to convince all your potential customers to buy items from their abandoned carts. But you sure can persuade a lot of them, and it adds up to be a big number. Ignoring it means that you are ignoring a significant number of your customer base. Here’s the thing – many abandoned carts may be due to valid reasons. The customer might realize that they don’t actually want the product, or maybe that they cannot pay for it at the moment.

But in many cases, the customer is on the fence. And with the right amount of persuasion, they will end up buying your product. The most direct way to do this is email. But with emails come age-old problems like spam and click through rates.

Here are a few tips that would help you craft the most persuasive abandoned cart emails and close the sale.

Tips for Better Abandoned Cart Emails

  • Personalize

The abandoned cart email has two main functions. The first is notification – you need to notify your customer that their cart was loaded and ready to be processed. The second is to hook the customer into actually going ahead with the transaction. This is a subtle art, and your email must reflect your deftness. You need to make your email sound personal, rather than a long drawn sales pitch. Use the shopper’s first name, and maybe a little line about the specific ways in which the products in their cart could help them. Since the purpose of this email is notification and persuasion, make it crisp and easy on the eyes.

  • Make it Fun

Get a designer to craft a fun email for your abandoned carts. Design something that attracts attention. The viewer’s inbox would be filled with corporate emails. What makes your mail stand out? It could be funny, good looking and cheerful. Finally it all comes down to the design and the copy.

  • The Carrot and the Stick

Of course, some people would need more incentive. Maybe a small offer that would push them over the edge? This is the carrot. Now for the stick. Add a sense of urgency to your mail. Sometimes the factor that pushes people to buy things is the fact that it might get sold out. Warn your customers that the more they delay, the lesser their chances are of owning that product.

  • Timing is Key

How many times would you send an abandoned cart email to your customers? Well, ideally the first mail should reach them within 24 hours of abandonment. But just a single mail is generally not enough. Customers tend to procrastinate, and they might need to be reminded of their abandoned cart again. The time intervals between subsequent emails would depend upon a few factors. It does not make sense to send a barrage of emails to a customer and fluster them out of a sale. The frequency of mails should depend upon the products in the cart. What category do they belong to? How expensive are they? The more expensive the product, the more time a customer would need to think over before buying it. Basically, it all comes down to the difference between a nudge and a push.

For any more advice on abandoned cart emails, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions providers are we are always happy to help!

5 Simple Ways to Retain Customers and Make them Shop More

Customer retention is the name of the game. If you are an online retailer, you cannot thrive in the market without conserving a loyal customer base. Oftentimes, this is the major conundrum that the average online retailer has to face – how to retain customers? But why is customer retention so important?

Loyal customers are like equity. And the more loyal your customers are, the higher its value. One cannot create a successful business without having customers shop more than once at their store. Look at the numbers – nearly 35 million people shopped online in India in 2014, and the number is expected to go to 100 million in 2016. Although the market is steadily rising, so is the competition. The only way to survive, then, is customer retention.

The point is that everybody knows this. Its out in the open. So every seller is essentially doing everything they can to gain and retain customers. They are offering loyalty points and discounts and referral points and bonuses. It is an online quagmire, and you have to create your niche here.

Let us tell you how.

How to Retain Customers and Gain Their Loyalty

  1. Define Your Target Demographic

First things first – do not try to sell to everyone. It will be a waste of time and effort and you wouldn’t gain much out of it. Instead, demarcate a section of the market that you want to focus on. This will be decided on the basis of your product, your logistics systems and your marketing reach. Once you do this, pull your energy into creating novel ways to retain a customer base in this zone. As your customer base grows, you can think about expanding your target demographic.

  1. Customer Service

The key to customer loyalty is customer service. A new customer needs to be shown that all their needs would be met with you. This means running a tight ship in terms of all your processes. Basically, do not give the customer a chance to complain. But we all know that not having a complaining customer is a fantasy. So keep your lines of communications always open. Make sure you are always polite in interaction and deft at conflict resolution. Be prompt and timely in your responses and make sure that the customer is satisfied with your service. Find ways to bridge the gap between you and the customer. like offering customer service on social media.

  1. The Feel-Good Factor

You have to give your customers a happy shopping experience. Make sure that they feel special when they are shopping with you. This can be anything from festive packaging to a freebie gift. For example, if you are an electronics equipment provider, you could provide free servicing after regular intervals. Depending on the sector you are working on, you could provide online and offline help to loyal customers that sign up with you. Anything that makes a customer feel special comes in this category.

  1. Online Marketing

The online community is like a giant water cooler. The chatter that you hear on various social media websites ultimately trickles down into public perception. Having a social media presence is a must in today’s day and age. But more than that, you must really give a thought in meticulously sculpting your online persona. A piece of advice is to be knowledgeable about the sector that you are operating in and share your knowledge. Know how to initiate a conversation, and make sure you don’t become one of the countless memes and examples of companies being making a fool of themselves on the internet.

  1. Reward the Returning Customer

It is the second time that a customer shops at your store that you have them hooked. Show them that it means a lot to you that they chose to shop with you again. This does not necessarily have to be via gifts and loyalty points. Even a smart website design helps make the customer feel special. For example, Amazon allows users to create a new account with an already registered email address, automatically disabling the old one. This beats having the users to scour through their mailbox looking for that long lost password to access their account. Show the user that the system recognizes them and is happy that they came back. Interesting loyalty programs and rewards can be crafted too, like offering deals to social media followers for a discount for the third time shoppers. Be creative!

This is what we have on customer retention. To know more or to ask questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

5 Actionable Ways to Improve Customer Loyalty on Your Online Store

In the cutthroat world on online sales, customer loyalty means everything. It means more market share, higher profits, higher brand recognition and a stable, growing business. Customer loyalty has two important benefits – firstly, it means the conversion of a one-time shopper into a trusted customer who would always come to you for their shopping needs. Secondly, it drastically increases the chances of word-of-mouth marketing, or customer referral, which is arguably the most effective way of business expansion in the online world.

Loyal customer base is like capital – a valuable resource. And one must treat them that way. A lot of work goes into creating and nurturing a trusted customer base. It requires a solid branding strategy and impeccable customer service. Your customers would be loyal to you if and only if you are loyal to them. Think from the point of view of a customer, for instance. What do shoppers look for in a business? Availability and choice are of course important aspects, but in the online world, there is no dearth of these two (unless of course, you are running a niche business, in which case, you must amp up your market analysis).

Apart from these obvious concerns, a customer looks for a good shopping experience. That means a wholesome user experience design for your website, and avoiding the obvious mistakes that tend to irritate the average customer. The consumer also looks for good customer service – your response time to their queries, your reactions to their feedback, and of course, issues like your returns policy, serving time, etc. These are points that not only can make or break a sale, but also build or destroy customer loyalty.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve customer loyalty on your online store, in detail.

How to Make Sure Your Customers Return to Your Online Store

  1. Rethink Your Customer Service

This one is obvious. This is the crux of all customer loyalty strategies. If you don’t have good customer service, all the other resources that you employ in revamping your company image are a waste. Be courteous and always ready to listen. Do not hesitate to admit to your faults, whether in a private conversation or on a social media platform. Work on that returns policy, and try to provide your customers with a hassle free shopping experience.

  1. Rethink Your Brand Image

Point 1 is a necessary but insufficient condition to increase customer loyalty. What you also need is a brand image that your customers can relate to. They should feel at home, when you are serving them. The only way to go about this is to deeply study your customer demographic and tailor your services accordingly. Think of it as creating a personality for your website. A good exercise is to actually imagine your website as a person and model it in a way that your customer base would want to be friends with it. Try it! What do you think would be the gender of your website? Does your existing website sound like it is too full of itself? What would be its favorite films? Although the question of personal choice is a quite subjective one, the question of public perception can be satisfactorily attempted by considering a few sociological implications. Most importantly, give your website and your social media images some personality to distinguish them from a run-in-the-mill online store.

  1. Start with Your Friends

Build a network. The first step to do so is to start with your friends. Encourage them to share your brand image (if they are close friends, then force them to). Find their friends and make friends with them. Give them offers that they would like to avail. Speak out on issues that you think they would care about (#NetNeutrality). Watch your network grow. Customer loyalty is not a static idea. One has to keep working at it, changing gears, strategies and plans to be successful. There is no upper limit for customer loyalty.

  1. Provide Incentives

Provide tangible reasons for customers to come back and shop with you. Come up with offers and bonuses that they can avail if they shop with you again. Companies like Starbucks regularly use this strategy and come up with offers like this. It is all about understanding the needs of a customer and crafting an offer that would make the average customer feel enticed.

  1. Talk to the Customers

Use email newsletters to let them know about your offers. Use social media to interact with them. Social media doesn’t have to be constrained to Facebook or Twitter. Instagram has been experiencing massive popularity due to its easy to comprehend pictorial format. Instagram for businesses is actually a great way to keep up with your customer base and have conversations with them in an exciting, engaging platform. Keep posting interesting images and you will surely reap the benefits.

In case of questions or doubts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

How Can Your Online Customers be wooed into Coming Back and Purchasing More?

Success in online sales works in mysterious ways, at least seemingly so. It is a medium where you cannot directly interact with your customers, or give them a long speech about how their lives will change for the better if they buy your product. You also end up becoming one seller in a sea of thousands, each trying to create a niche for themselves. How does one succeed in a cut-throat market like this?

One solution to this problem requires you to alter your thinking drastically – stop looking at the big numbers and start focusing on individual customers themselves. The big numbers might include your annual profits or the size of unique customer base that you have. These numbers matter, but there must be a strategy in place to connect these macro components of your campaign with the much-neglected micro components – individual customers.

Trust on the internet can spread like wildfire, but for that to happen, one has to make sure that they get recurring customers. Recurring customers might not be the Holy Grail of online sales, but it sure does come close. The fact that you have a large recurring customer base means two things – firstly, the consumer trusts your product and services enough to come back and avail them, and secondly, the would not hesitate to indulge in word-of-mouth marketing for your brand, ultimately increasing your customer base.

So how does one convince customers to come back for more?

How to Create Recurring Customers?

  • Provide Excellent Customer Service

Ironically, the first point in our article about marketing has got nothing to do with marketing itself. But it is also the most important point in the whole article. You might have amazing marketing strategies in place, but if your core service is bad, then people are not going to return to you. One cannot survive with an All Bark, No Bite mentality.

So first things first, offer great customer service. Be courteous, admit your faults, and make sure that you handle those returns. A few sweet gestures here and there will definitely not hurt. Most importantly, your aim is to convince your customer that you are having fun serving them, and they will have fun availing your services as a consequence.

  • Be in Touch

Be in touch with your previous customers via email. Share your newsletter with them. Which means create a newsletter if you haven’t already. Do not be obtrusive, but do not be dormant at the same time. Come forward on important social issues that will affect both you and the customers. For example, the internet will love you if you raise your voice on the issue of Net Neutrality. Flipkart did it, and they are reaping the fruits.

  • Get Feedback

Make sure you receive customer feedback every time you make a sale. Show your customers that you are ready to improve your services. If you see a lot of customers complaining about a particular issue, don’t hesitate to change your policy. And once you do, don’t forget to inform your customers about how thankful you are that they helped you improve.

  • Social Media Marketing

While social media is not a platform where you can directly sell your wares, it is an immensely important thing. Think of social media platforms like huge virtual water coolers where people meet up and decide what is cool and what is not. You want to be a part of those discussions.

Campaigning for your brand is a tricky thing, because it tends to annoy more than entice. Use our advice from point no. 2 and show your solidarity on issues like Net Neutrality on Facebook and Twitter. The idea is to create shareable content, that is, content that can be passed on between groups of individuals. Incite your customers to follow you on social media websites and tailor shareable content according to your needs.

  • Offers

Finally, everything cannot work on goodwill. You have to offer your customers something tangible in exchange of their loyalty. Create offer codes that customers can avail if they are shopping for the nth time. Give them discounts or free goodies with every subsequent purchase that they make. Think of novel offers that you can create that would lead to a customer coming back to shop from you.

This is what we have on creating recurring customers for now. If you want to talk more, or have queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!