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!

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.

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.

Track Your Remittance: New Browntape feature

The best part about selling online on multiple channels is getting the rewards – payment. But payment procedures on e commerce sites are not as easy as they sound. A large company like Flipkart sells around 10 products per minute, and on a good sales day, makes more than Rs.600 crores in a day. Moving this big a capital around is not a joke, especially because it has to be distributed between a large number of sellers after deducting commissions, costs, taxes, etc. individually. Online sites then have a simpler method to follow through with these transactions – remittance cycles.

As a seller, you have a remittance cycle of generally 15 to 30 days. At the end of every cycle, you get paid for all the products you sold within that cycle. Sellers generally have to sign up with the website’s preferred payment gateway (Flipkart – PayZippy, Amazon – PayPal, etc.). We previously made an exhaustive list of all payment gateways that you can subscribe to in India. The payment gateways have their own convenience fees that they charge you for using them. This would generally be different from the website commission charged to you. Apart from that, you may also be penalised for not complying with certain company policy. Your final remittance at the end of the cycle reflects the net amount you receive after deducting all these aspects.

Browntape’s Track Your Remittance Feature

Although it all sounds well and good with the remittance policy, there can be an alarming lack of transparency in the actual transaction. Payment gateway convenience fees change with the time period and the amount to be transferred. Penalty policy changes from website to website. There may also be the issue of cashback or withheld payments.

If you are an online seller subscribing to multiple channels, it can be quite a difficult task to sift through all the transactions and keep a track of your exact remittance for every website, especially because the remittance cycles for each website would vary.

This is where Browntape’s Track Your Remittance feature comes in handy.

What Does it Do?

Track Your Remittance feature from Browntape gives you the complete breakdown of your remittance at the end of each individual cycle for every sales channel that you subscribe to on your dashboard. This breakdown is easy to analyse and is stored, per cycle, into your Browntape account, for easy access and reference. You are notified at the end of every cycle for each of your channels and the capital is reflected in your net profits, which you can analyse according to your convenience. This means that your money is transferred to you with complete transparency.

Browntape is the only multi channel order management system in India that offers a detailed breakdown of the remittance cycle. For more information about this feature and other queries, get in touch with Browntape and try our 30-day free trial. We are India’s leading order management solutions providers, and we are always happy to help.

How to Save up on Logistics Costs

An oft-neglected area while planning an ecommerce business is logistics. Logistics is the actual process with which your product is stored, transported and delivered to your customers. So, while it is important to fiddle with your website UI to make it more engaging, and promote your venture online so that people shop on your website, it is also important that you sort out your logistics and keep checking up on those systems in regular intervals.

A typical company will spend around 5% to 50% of their costs on logistics and supply chain management, depending on the sector. The costs incurred on logistics are also some of the most volatile numbers that you will encounter. The main reason for this is that they are influenced by multiple factors, like the rising fuel prices, government policies, changing tariff laws, warehousing costs and in case of overseas shipping, international trade laws, etc. A typical overseas package will get delivered in about eight to ten days, while actually being in transit for only about 5% to 10% of the time. The rest of the time it will be sitting in a warehouse along with hundreds of other boxes, waiting to undergo security and customs checks, loading and offloading and other paperwork.

So how to make your logistics more efficient on the pocket? Here are a few tips that can help.

Tips to Cut Down on Logistics Costs

  1. Understand Your Supply Chain

The first step to cutting down logistics costs is to poke around under the hood and thoroughly understand your supply chain. If you are an online retailer, start from the point when you purchase your goods. These goods are then transported to your warehouse. Once an order arrives, the product must be packed, tagged and handed over to your logistics provider.

Most large online marketplaces offer their own logistics services if you sign up with them, but for your standalone website, you have to make an effort to find a trustworthy shipping partner. We previously made a comprehensive list of shipping partners, along with their pros and cons, which would be helpful here. Once your product is deployed, it lands first and foremost in your shipping partner’s warehouse. Here it is sorted according to its destination zone, and shipped off.

Then begins its journey, replete with pit stops and sorting, until at last it is delivered to your customer’s doorstep. Of course, the details of every product’s journey vary, but this is a general gist. Understand the true costs of shipping your product as it passes through these phases and check for bottlenecks.

  1. Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouse efficiency is a pillar of good supply chain management. We previously wrote about why you should be conducting a weekly audit for your warehouse. An efficient warehouse means that you can locate, tag and ship your product off in the least amount of time. You need to test the warehouse to see if there is wastage of space, whether products are stored in a way that they are easy to access, whether there is a virtual record of all the products moving through the warehouse and whether the packing and tagging processes are fast enough. Be on guard to find a few bottlenecks and sort them out.

  1. Use an Inventory Management System

You can save a lot of time and money by using an inventory management system to do the grunt work for you. An inventory management system is essentially a service that helps you manage multiple aspects of your job as an online retailer. All your inventory and orders are saved online, which means it is easy for you to track them down. Your customers are provided with automated emails informing them of the status of their package. Spending a little on an inventory management system ensures that you save up by making your transactions and logistics highly efficient. Try to automate as many processes as you can.

  1. Consider Having Multiple Shipping Partners

Thoroughly compare the shipping costs of various shipping partners. You don’t have to choose one and stick with them. Instead, you can sign up with multiple partners depending upon their efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness in different geographic zones. A particular shipping company may have a better reach, or higher efficiency in a particular geographic area. Why deprive yourself of this benefit? Similarly, if you have multiple suppliers from a particular geographic area, don’t hesitate to consolidate.

  1. Reverse Logistics

We repeatedly stress how important returns are for your business. Providing a free returns policy is a must in today’s world. But what about return shipping? Reverse Logistics, as it is known, must not be taken lightly. Talk to your shipping partner about reverse logistics and streamline the processes related to it using periodic audits and automation.

These are a few things you can do to make your logistics more cost efficient. To know more, just 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!