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!

5 Tips to Stand Out While Selling on Online Marketplaces

An online marketplace is a tough place to survive in. The amount of competition is enormous and the demand is relentless and both these things mean that you always have to be on your toes while operating your online store. The size on the Indian online marketplace is rising at a meteoric pace. In fact, the Indian online retail industry was worth $13.5 billion in 2014, and is all set to cross the $16 billion mark in 2016. With a market volume like this, it is extremely difficult to make one’s mark. How can one differentiate oneself from the competition while selling virtually similar products off the same online sales platform?

It becomes slightly easier for sellers with a niche product to offer and a dedicated website to sell it from. But what about somebody who is selling through a large online sales platform? A typical customer would rarely look into a seller’s background in detail other than checking their rating to see if they provide a decent service.

So what can be done in a high-pressure low wiggle room situation like this to stand apart from the crowd? Let’s find out!

How to Stand Out on an Online Sale Channel

  1. Hit the Right Keywords

Most sales begin with a keyword search string. Something like ‘Poncho raincoat’ or ‘Blue ink pen’. Something that the customer feels is the obvious way to search a product. Your job is to make sure that these expected keywords related to your product are included in its description so that your product pops up every time the keywords are searched. This is essential because the volume of products and sellers is so high on a typical online marketplace that it is first important to be in the customer’s range of vision. Remember, the first step to stand out is to be seen.

  1. Good Photography

Let’s perform an experiment. Log on to an online sales channel like Amazon or Flipkart and just search something. Anything. Now, just browse through the list of results. What do you notice first? The image, right? That small thumbnail of an image is a make or break for online sales.

We wrote an article previously about how to photograph your images for online marketplaces. The image of your product is the closest the customer is ever going to get to actually experiencing it before buying it. In fact, most online marketplaces require you to take high-resolution pictures from multiple angles for your customers’ benefit. You can actually impress your customer by investing in some great photography for your product.

  1. Be Creative with Product Descriptions

Again, the important thing to understand is that the customer cannot actually hold the product. It is up to you to provide the most comprehensive description for them. This is also your chance to impress them with some creativity. Fiddle with the design of your product description so that it forms an interesting narrative. Engage your customers and make them stay on the page longer.

  1. Engage in Social Media

There is a line that divides the space between the real world and social media. People go to a restaurant and order food, once the food is served, the click an image and put it up on instagram. How can you prompt your customers to interact with your brand on social media? Social media highlights experiences (and cats) – the ambience at a restaurant, the rainy day from the window, and receiving a product you ordered in the mail. Nudge your customers to interact with your brand on Twitter and Instagram. Impress them with the packaging and ask them to pin an image of it up on Pinterest. There is so many ways with which you can stand out using social media. Just be creative!

  1. Offer a Great Returns Policy

Finally, something that every customer wants – a guaranteed returns policy. This will surely make you stand out amongst the crowd of competitors as somebody who truly cares about your customers’ interests. Here’s an article we previously wrote about the importance of a good returns policy. Do check it out.

This is what we have on how to stand out among competitors on an online sales website. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. 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!

Web Commerce and Mobile Commerce – What’s the Difference?

The world of online retail is a complicated one, with multitudes of applications and technologies powering it. Yet, it seems like there are two main branches that have split from it and are going into two slightly different directions. These are e-commerce, or electronic commerce and m-commerce or mobile commerce. Although e-commerce and m-commerce are based on the same fundamental principles, there are a few decisive differences between them.

Firstly, e-commerce has been around for much longer than its mobile powered sibling. To give you an idea, in 1971-72, the newly developed ARPANET (a predecessor to the internet) was used to arrange a sale between the students of Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, later described as ‘a seminal act of e-commerce’. The introduction of Windows and Mac personal computers in the early 90s meant that a large network of consumers with access to the internet was being built. Jeff Bezos launched Amazon, the first true online marketplace, in 1995.

On the other hand, the mobile revolution truly began in 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone. Steve Jobs’ words ring true today when he proclaimed during the initial iPhone launch, that mobile devices were not just a means to communication, but a way of life.

With the smartphone market bustling with competitors trying to appease an unrelentless demand, it was no wonder that this technology was employed by the then established e-commerce players to amp up their sales. What they soon realized was that the mobile sector was much more fertile and responsive than they had ever imagined. Although the m-commerce sector has not generated as much revenue as the traditional e-commerce sector yet, it is catching up at a breakneck speed.

In this article, we will discuss some nuances of m-commerce and e-commerce, their fundamental characteristics, and their pros and cons.

e-Commerce vs. m-Commerce

  1. Computers vs. Mobiles

Although the scope of the definition of the term e-commerce can arguably be widened to include an transaction as long as it is done on electronic devices via the internet, with the e-commerce/m-commerce dichotomy in play, we will focus on transactions done via the traditional electronic media like personal computers and laptops under the purview of e-commerce. Then this issue comes down to the efficacy of computers versus mobiles. Have we truly come to an age where smartphones and not computers are our primary computing devices?

This is a long drawn debate, but the point of contention is not whether phones can truly take the place of computers, but rather, when. Today’s high-end smartphones pack enough processing power to be at least comparable to the average laptop. Issues like hard drive capacity still fall in favor of laptops, but that will not be so for long. The rise of mobiles is similar to that of personal computers when they were first introduced – a few key players dominating the OS sector, while many hardware manufacturers competing with each other in terms of power and design. The only difference is that mobile technology’s agility and refined architecture means that the consumer can get more, faster.

  1. Personalization

The Mobile Age is the age of personalization. Just look at any smartphone advertisement. They talk about your phone, and how you can click the best pictures of intimate moments with your loved ones with your phone, how you can watch your favorite videos on a screen that would be too small for a group of people. How you can ask Siri or Cortana or OK Google anything that’s on your mind, and they will find the answer and tell it only to you. Computers were traditionally supposed to be used by a family, and you can see that in the way they were advertised. A mobile is yours and yours only. This goes for the apps within it, including the ones for m-commerce.

This leads to a few hypotheses, if you will –

  1. Mobile consumers will tend to have a shorter attention span, since they don’t have to sit in one place and look at a screen. They are on the move.
  2. Mobile consumers are used to the device remembering their personal details – their name, their address, even their interests and past purchases.
  3. Mobile consumers also expect a higher level of automation. They are used to it because of the device. For example, they will prefer to sign in with Facebook or Gmail, rather than type out their email address and a password, twice.
  4. A mobile user is accustomed to a smaller screen, as opposed to a laptop user. Depending upon the operating system they are on, they are also used to a certain design language that defines the operating system. The only way they are going to feel at home on your app is if you work with the overall fabric of the system.

Today’s mobile user is accustomed to watching a TV show on the PopcornTime app, then going on WornOnTV.net to find an outfit a character wore, being redirected to the relevant online retail app with the outfit in stock and ordering it, all in the time that would take you to boot up your personal computer. This is the beauty of mobile.

  1. Cost of Operation and Familiarity for a Consumer

Here is where computers are still ahead in the game than mobiles, for now. Smartphones are connected to the internet via wireless telecom networks. Computers can go online with a simple broadband connection that is cheaper in India, and free in many Western countries. Innovations like Google’s Project Fi are on the verge of breaking out of this mould.

Secondly, the older generation of consumers is just not as familiar with mobile devices as they are with computers. Call it a heuristic bias, but that is the case. Of course, in a very few years this too will change.

  1. The Future

The future of online sales resides in personalization. The biggest flaw of online retail was that the organic nature of a sale was lost through it. That you could not build real relationships with your customers and you would soon end up dealing with entities rather than individuals. With the amount of personalization mobile technology offers, and this includes everything from smartphones to smart wearables to smart devices, one truly sell to an individual again.

To know more about m-commerce and e-commerce, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions providers, and 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!

Contractual manufacturer to Online Brand – BagsRUs’ journey with Browntape

bagsrus

For 22 years, Mihir Desai steered his company in the direction of contractual manufacturing. With focus on comfort, reliability and durability, each product is made combining the latest designs and functionality aspect in mind.

Being contractual manufacturers, top quality bags of different kinds were made by BagsRUs for various brands and corporates over the years. While the bulk production of bags kept happening, BagsRUs as a brand hadn’t made a foray into the retail industry.

From manufacturing to retail

BagsRUs had a number of reasons to stand out in the crowd:

  • Only the finest and most durable raw materials are used, based on national as well as international standards.
  • Designs were at par with most popular and unique designs.
  • Comfort and functionality was the focus for every product.
  • Rigorous and specific quality checks are done for every product.
  • Value pricing was a given.

BagsRUs experimented with different kinds of bags to expand product portfolio into chiller bags to store cold beer, shoe string bags, sari bags, shirt bags and so on.

Based on the above Browntape suggested BagsRUs foray into the ecommerce world. Within 6 months, it witnessed a giant leap in sales. And as is said, the rest is history. It has become an independent fashion brand loved by all and has come out with a number of new products since entry. All that with the help of Browntape!

bagsrus sales1

Becoming online brand BagsRUs

Mihir already had the following advantages:

  • Manufacturing – New products could be introduced and existing products could be tweaked according to industry demand.
  • Control on pricing – Since there was no third party involved, all the products could be priced in such a way that it gave value to the brand and the brand.
  • Quality – Only top quality raw material are used for each product, which ensures customers get what they pay for, thus keeping them happy.
  • Bulk products – Any product could be produced according to required numbers, thus keeping stock-out situations at bay.
  • Control on the supply chain – Again, due to the absence of middlemen, products could be sent directly to customer or marketplace as per requirement.

Browntape helped to enhance the above in making online brand BagsRUs:

  • Photography

Photography is one of the most important aspects in online selling. In the absence of the feel and touch factor, images of products grab customer eyeballs and impress them. They play a very important role in the customer’s purchase decision.

Also, online marketplaces have specifications about images and these have to be kept in mind for approval. Browntape’s inhouse photography team clicked images of the products in line with the specifications while also highlighting the unique features of each product.

  • Product Content

BagsRUs products are unique and innovative, and some of them have functionalities, which are difficult to highlight through images. For example, one interesting product was a duffel bag that could convert from a backpack into a sling bag by changing the strap. This was highlighted in the product description.

Descriptions were customised to suit each product and highlight unique features, incorporating SEO and keywords.

  • Product suggestions

Browntape gives constant directions about promising products that will help online sales based on market trends and demands.

  • Daily operations

The Browntape team handles the entire daily ecommerce operations for BagsRUs. Once the cataloguing is taken care of, the team proceeds to listing on the identified marketplaces. Based on the inventory and order management done by the team, BagsRUs team just has to keep the products ready and ship them as per customer orders.

  • Discounts and offers

Different marketplaces have different offers at different times. Also, understanding the pulse of the customer and the seller is important for this; seller should be able to fulfil the order once placed by customer. Browntape keeps track of these and decides the ideal ones for BagsRUs so that the right customers are reached at the right time.

Do you want your story to be the next Browntape success story? Contact Browntape today and we’ll  be happy to help you with your online selling operations.

Online selling requires a dedicated team and continuous efforts to see effective results. A good team and seamless set of processes are a must for smooth operations. Browntape Enterprise Services understands this and helps retailers to take their retail business online. Once on board, Browntape will handle all the daily operations while the retailers can focus on quality and variety of their products.

How did Browntape multiply 60-year old Renka’s online sales in just 6 months?

Rahul Renka

Established in 1958, Rosy Hosiery Mills (RHM) has been in the business of manufacturing and exporting a number of products including fabric, garments, home furnishing, baby products and accessories. Their products are designed n tune with global style and colour trends, and have been well received by customers over the years. On the manufacturing front, they produce about 3,000 kgs of fabric/6,000 pieces per day.

Tryst with E-commerce

Over the years, RHM went from being just a manufacturer to brand Renka, known for women’s clothing, but sold only in the local markets. With almost 60 years in existence and three generations, the family decided to take the leap into ecommerce and enter the world of online retail. In the second half of 2014, Renka was listed on online marketplaces like Amazon and Snapdeal. But they failed to click and they could not complete the expected sales target. However, in October their sales started picking up and they their revenue multiplied in just three months! Today, Renka is among the top online sellers of winter apparel. How did that happen? Browntape!

Renka’s sales picked up after Browntape started managing their ecommerce operations

Renka’s sales picked up after Browntape started managing their ecommerce operations

Manufacturing – Renka’s advantage

  1. Profit margins not compromised- Being a manufacturer, the biggest advantage Renka had was the absence of middlemen, this helping to ease the cost factor. Without cutting down on profit margins, they could price products such that sustainability wouldn’t have to be compromised.
  2. Bulk products – As they were producing products in bulk, a stock-out situation never happened. Each design had 40-50 pieces in different sizes and colours.

Why did it fail to take off in the online space immediately?

Timing! When RHM started selling online, it was not the time people were buying winter items. Hence the traction was low. But the key while selling online is to keep selling after analysing the factors involved and making sure the right elements are applied at the right time.

How Browntape uplifted online brand Renka

A quick study of the brand revealed the following about Renka:

  • Styles and designs in tune with industry trends
  • Competitive prices
  • Stringent quality checks
  • Capacious warehouse

Capitalising on cues from Renka’s existing retail channel, Browntape formulated their online sales strategy:

  • Strategic timing

Different products sell better at different times of the year. A diary or a journal may sell more in December or January, while a normal notebook may sell more in May or June. Sales of gold jewellery picks up during Dhanteras, which is considered auspicious for buying gold jewellery. And so on. From October, customers would start checking out winter wear and Browntape accordingly advised Renka to churn out a larger quantity of products in different sizes and colours. So when sales started picking up, Renka was ready to fulfil the incoming demand without disappointing customers for which they received good reviews.

  • Consistent quality

Again, being a manufacturer, Renka could ensure one of the most crucial aspects was on track – product quality. Even one bad product can hamper the reputation of a brand (we know how social media is customers’ favourite to vent out or share opinions), thus leading to drop in traction.

  • Daily operations

Right from cataloguing to listing to order processing to inventory management was handled by the Browntape team, thus freeing Renka team from the headache of monitoring marketplaces and sales. All they had to do was pack products according to the orders received and send them out to customers.

  • Good seller rating

Seller rating on a marketplace is testimony of the seller’s products and performance. With Browntape’s seamless daily operations, Renka was able to fulfil all orders on time thus keeping customers happy and inviting positive reviews. With consistent good reviews, Renka’s rating ranked higher and impressed more customers.

  • Participation in online sales

Marketplaces have different deals and offers at different times, it becomes a tedious task to monitor and keep track of these. Browntape did this for Renka and decided on the right offers to participate in so that products would catch the eyeballs of the right customers.

Do you want your story to be the next Browntape success story? Contact Browntape today and we’ll  be happy to help you multiply your online sales.

Online selling requires a dedicated team and continuous efforts to see effective results. A good team and seamless set of processes are a must for smooth operations. Browntape Enterprise Services understands this and helps retailers to take their retail business online. Once on board, Browntape will handle all the daily operations while the retailers can focus on quality and variety of their products.