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!

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!

What is Affiliate Marketing? Should You Outsource it?

Affiliate marketing is a process of earning commission by promoting products or services of another company along with your product. At first glance, the concept seems a bit off – why would you spend resources promoting another brand if you could use the same to promote yourself? But in reality, affiliate marketing, when done effectively, can lead a hard source of recurring income without a lot of effort.

Affiliate marketing is a common occurrence, and many companies widely use it. Yet, their success varies and is dependent on how effectively the marketing is strategized and executed. But let us first understand clearly the idea of affiliate marketing.

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

Here is a simple example – Suppose you are a manufacturer of shoes. You have a store in the mall where you sell your product. One day a manufacturer of socks visits you and asks you to recommend his brand of socks to your customers. In return, he says, he will give you a 10% commission on every sale of his product that you facilitate. This is a type of affiliate marketing.

Consider these two possibilities. First is that the plan is successful and you get a new steady source of income along with your core business. You strike up similar deal with a few other manufacturers and reap the benefits of affiliate marketing. Now, imagine that you take his deal, and you recommend his brand of socks to your customers. Your customers buy them, but soon realize that they are really bad socks. As a result, not only do customers stop buying the socks and put a stop to your commission, but they also stop buying your shoes since you gave them a bad recommendation.

So we see that affiliate marketing can be a tightrope. One little slip and the whole system is liable to fall down. The idea is to create affiliate marketing strategies so that they add latent value to your product in the long run.

Here are some of the common affiliate marketing strategies that are generally employed by merchants.

  1. PPC Affiliate Marketing

The easiest way of getting into affiliate marketing is with PPC or Pay Per Click. In this model, you are completely uninvolved in the product that you are marketing. This means that you are just renting out space for an advertisement on your virtual real estate and getting paid every time a customer clicks on it. The product you are promoting does not have to do anything with your business interest. It is a simple arrangement purely based on commerce.

Sometimes this strategy can end up being pretty obtrusive and frustrating for the customer, especially if it comes in the form of unwanted and rampant pop-ups that frequent the internet. If done correctly, you might find it to be a viable strategy to earn passive income without doing much work for it.

  1. Related Affiliate Marketing

The shoes and socks example that we viewed previously is a perfect example of related affiliate marketing. Here, the product you are promoting is related to your business. It is here that you have to be a bit careful, and thus, a bit more involved with the marketing process. ‘Only promote products that you can trust’ seems to be the basic dictum here, and with good reason.

  1. Involved Affiliate Marketing

Involved affiliate marketing is when you personally trust and favor a particular brand of product that is related to your business, and you take an active part in the promotion campaign through your online real estate. Here is where affiliate marketing comes of age, so to say. You can pick a range of strategies to market the product you are promoting. You can even pair your product with it to provide schemes and discounts that would benefit both you and the other party.

Should I Outsource Affiliate Marketing?

It depends upon how much you want to get into it. Generally, companies like Flipkart, Amazon and eBay have their own affiliate marketing or partnership programs. Through these, you can redirect your customers to buy your products from your Flipkart listings (as an example), and get a percentage commission for every sale.

You need to know that generally the commission rates are more if this transaction occurs on a smartphone via the online sales platform’s app. The commission rates also differ according to the category of product that you are promoting. For example, on Amazon you would earn 4% commission on consumer electronics but a 15% commission on the sale of clothes and shoes. Read through the above links to get to know about the affiliate policies of each of these organizations.

If you really want to get into affiliate marketing, just partnering with a large online sales conglomerate is not enough. Instead, you would want to track down specific players to do business with and chalk out specific plans to execute it. In essence, one would have to treat it as another marketing plan.

But why would you want to spend so much time and resources on promoting a product that is not even yours? Hence, the solution is to simply outsource the process and only remain involved in the executive decision-making. At the end of the day, it is your business that comes first.

If you have any doubts on affiliate marketing, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online sales solutions providers, and we are always happy to help!

Building a Profitable E-Commerce Retail Business: A Dream or a Possibility?

Published by Browntape on iamwire.

The e-commerce industry in India has seen a tremendous growth in these last few years. It was valued at USD 12.6 billion in 2013 and is expected to be a USD 50 billion industry by 2023. The shopper base in India is expected to cross 100 million by 2016 and mobile commerce is expected to drive this growth. With so much scope for growth, e-commerce start-ups are still shutting down everyday. E-commerce giants, in spite of growing revenues are facing heavy losses that are widening each year.

Everyone wants to get on to the e-commerce wagon today, but it is clear that the e-commerce pie is not one that is up for sharing. It is a game of survival by all means. Smaller players without deep pockets are facing the heat, and eventually burning out. So, the question remains. Is it really possible to build a profitable e-commerce business in the current scenario? While there is no miracle method to this, here are some points that we feel could lead to sustainable profitability.

Keep an Eye on the Bottom line

Most e-commerce companies today work on the premise that profits will become important only after a certain scale is achieved. While this is an unconventional method of doing business, it is not exactly a sustainable one. The topline might be important in order to raise money from investors, but the bottomline is more important if the business wants to become self sustainable. While its counterparts in India are struggling, Alibaba in China has been able to consistently make profits. The basic reason is simple. Alibaba understood its customers from the get go and created a business model that was profit driven instead of revenue driven.

Focus on the Profits

Simply put, a company is said to be making profits when it is earning more money than it is spending. At a transactional level, you could say your products are selling at a profit, if your product’s selling price is more than the cost price.

In an e-commerce business, the cost per transaction is twofold. It includes:

  1. The cost of the product (manufacturing/procuring)
  2. Operational costs in delivering the product to the customer.

The operational costs in ecommerce include at least the following:

  • Real estate costs – Rent for warehouse, office/shop, electricity, water, etc.
  • Human resources – Employee salary, CA/lawyer charges
  • Logistics – Courier charges, packaging charges, etc.
  • Marketing – The heaviest spend of the lot, in order to get the attention of your customers.

In today’s e-commerce world, the maximum spend for any company is towards the human resources and marketing. Just in the 2 months leading up to Diwali, Flipkart and Snapdeal spent over Rs. 200 crores on marketing. While both companies saw a surge in their sales during the 2 months, it is not clear if either made a profit out of the same.

Even at a smaller scale, an e-commerce business needs to keep in mind the operational costs while pricing their products. To reduce the effects of operational costs, an e-commerce business should look at increasing the number of transactions as much as possible. For an e-commerce website, increase in transaction is again, directly proportional to the marketing spend. Sounds like a vicious circle doesn’t it?

But there is a way out

Many brands that are selling on their own e-stores also sell on marketplaces today. Basics, a popular retail brand, which has been promoting their online store heavily, has also listed its products Flipkart. Popular online brands like Chumbak, Cbazaar and Happily Unmarried, who are doing well with their own e-stores, also have presence on top marketplaces. Young Indian brands like Rangrage that are gaining popularity on their own e-commerce websites, also list their products on marketplaces like Snapdeal, Flipkart etc.

While listing your products on marketplaces doesn’t exactly rule out marketing spends completely, it exposes your brands to the millions of loyal customers that have already been acquired by the said marketplaces, for no extra cost. Being present on as many online channels possible increases sale prospects and thereby revenue.

Take Advantage of Multi Marketplace Customers

While selling on multiple marketplaces exposes you to multiple customers, it also requires work. According to expert sellers, a loss leader strategy works best for the short run. Pick out 10-15% of your catalog where you feel the demand is high, and keep your prices super competitive. While you might make very small profits at a transactional level, your reputation and star rating as a marketplace seller will increase and lead to further sales of other products.

Your reputation on a marketplaces is very important. Pay special attention to it. Treat your marketplace customers the same way you’d treat your loyal or repeat customer. While it might look like a very small thing, sending emails to your customer at every step of the order process helps greatly in impressing them. It might be a good idea to automate these processes by investing in a good multi marketplace management software for the purpose.

Successful multi marketplace sellers also send brand material and personal notes to customers to create brand awareness. In the long term, customers who have been served multiple times turn into loyal customers for the said brands. Also, selling on marketplaces puts you directly in touch with actual customers, who you can shift to your own websites with coupons, email marketing, etc.

According to Browntape’s category managers, people who have their presences on the right mix of marketplaces seem to do better in terms of revenue and profits than people who concentrate solely on their own online stores. The marketing and running costs of multi marketplace selling is lesser and the sales generated from marketplaces, especially during deals and sales are much higher. But the profitability that they add for each business is different and the more hands-on a brand is, the better success they achieve online.

Building a profitable e-commerce company definitely looks possible, and in a fairly short period of time. The trick is to utilize the opportunity and exposure that existing popular marketplaces present and building the business slowly and steadily, with a cautious eye on the bottom line of the business.

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

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

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

Why do You Need a Software

Provider for Your Marketing

Campaign?

1. Because it lets you manage multiple platforms effectively

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

2. Because it bridges the gap between marketing and sales

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

3. Because it helps shorten the sales cycle

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

4. Because it provides real-time data and analysis

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

 

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

Why Email is an Online Seller’s Best Friend

The online selling marketplace is a typical example of an aggressive ecosystem. You have to adapt quickly to all the technological changes around you to survive, and thrive. Although email is a technology that has been around for many many years, it’s applications in terms of online sales are some of the most effective ways to increase your business. For an online seller, email is one of the only few ways to have an actual dialogue with the customer. Of course, there are other, more sophisticated ways of networking, like Facebook and Twitter. But as a recent study shows, email is still an online seller’s best friend as compared to social media. Facebook/Twitter have their own advantages in the world of online sales, which consist of consolidating a mass outreach and creating a trustworthy and accessible online presence. But in terms of hard selling figures, email beats them all. In the last four years, the online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customers acquired through email to nearly 7 percent. Here are 5 reasons why email is the way to go for you as an online seller.

What Email Does for an Online Seller

1. Emails are Private

In fact, they are the one of the only means of online communication that are exclusively built upon the idea of privacy. Let us start with the first step – acquiring an email address. Acquiring an email address of a customer means that they trust you enough to do business with you. This is a very valuable thing for an online seller, much more valuable than a Facebook ‘Like’ or a re-tweet. Now you can employ this email address in various aspects of your strategy, from customer management to marketing. Hence, first rules first – Do not flood an inbox with spam. Nobody likes that. It will only spoil the newly established customer-seller relationship.

2. Emails for Customer Relationships

While Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are essentially ‘social media’ platforms, email is your own personal mailbox. Many online sellers do not realize this difference between these two tools of marketing. What is the point of sending a stock email privately to a lot of people if it can be sent publicly to reach a wider margin? Instead, you can employ email for another task – survey, feedback and customer relationship establishment. Update your customers with the status of their order. Ask them at the end of the transaction whether everything went according to their convenience. This is what emails are for – private channels that help you build trust. Most good inventory management systems consist of tools that can automatically send emails to your customers regarding the status of their orders.

3. Emails for Marketing

For a seller, marketing strategy objectives can be broken down into four important parts –
1. Get them to the store.
2. Make them buy something.
3. Keep them coming back.
4. Get their friends along
.
Social media platforms are more than adept to handle step 4. But emails work wonders for step 3. This is essentially the extension of the same philosophy that led to the advent of online stores – ‘If you can’t get them to the store, get the store to their home’. Well, ‘if you can’t get them to the site, get the site to their inbox’. Of course, a certain deft touch is required in doing this, rather than plainly mailing an online catalogue. With the power of the internet, we can easily access and identify shopping patterns are search strings employed by our customers. There are tools available in the market that can analyse this data and provide a clear strategic direction. The focus should be on sending relevant emails. That is the key.

4. Emails for Cross Selling

Cross selling is one of the most lucrative techniques for making profits in the sales world. The concept is very easy, and follows the ‘Would you like to buy some ink to go with the pen you just bought?’ strategy. Product pairings and groupings are common factors in cross selling, but understanding the customers’ habits and interests also helps a lot. Because cross sells are so customer specific, emails are the best way to go about with them. The best way is to personalise your mails with sales pitches for the products that you want to cross sell. Remember, emails are just the baits. Selling comes later.

5. Strategizing the Email

All of the above is great, but to use email as an effective tool in your online sales arsenal, you need to be able to use it right. We see many bad sales emails popping up everyday in our inboxes. Common practice is to just delete them without opening. How to get out of this conundrum? The idea is that email is not the happy ending in itself, but just a means to the happy ending. View an email as a start to a conversation. As we discussed above, an email is a private space between you and the customer. Thus, give a precise, brief pitch and invite the customer to reply. Once the contact has been established, things happen much faster.

If you want more automated emails at every step of your customer purchase cycle, get in touch with us at Browntape. Our inventory and order management software also takes care of customer emails, in a step towards making your customers happier.