How Natural Printing teamed up with Browntape to streamline operations and increase profits

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Natural Printing Pvt. Ltd. (NPPL or Natural Printing) is the brainchild of two friends, Mayank Bhatia and Shephali Mittal, over a casual conversation and a cup of tea. Soon enough, they took up the idea and started pursuing it seriously, with a little help from their friends.

Natural Printing first made its foray in the business world by creating chic, customized corporate gifts for MNCs. Inspired by the rising ecommerce wave, they decided to change their approach and start selling their products online in 2013. The two categories that Mayank and Shephali decided to focus on were bags and personal care. They created two brands for each category – Bendly and Hill Fresh. Now they are planning to enter other product categories by establishing new brands.

Natural Printing teamed up with Browntape during their online entrepreneurial journey. This case study is an account of the various challenges faced by the Natural Printing team, and how they overcame them to become one of the top sellers in their categories with the help of Browntape.

Transitioning from Corporate to Online Sales: Challenges

Establishing a brand in the online retail market from the ground up is no easy task. NPPL started off as an exclusive caterer of corporate gifts for various multinational companies. They established their business by nurturing a network of friends and acquaintances and growing it. But there were some stark disadvantages to the corporate market.

  • The orders came at irregular intervals.
  • Even with large volume orders, payment would always be an issue.
  • There was very little scope in terms of growing a brand.

After two years in the field, Mayank and Shephali started feeling a stagnation in the market and a need to explore uncharted territories of the online world. But this would take a lot of planning.

They were also aware of the differences between the two markets:

  • While the corporate market worked on a made-to-order basis, the online retail market required you to have a stocked warehouse all the time due to the anticipated steady flow of orders.

  • Creating listings, registering to various online retail channels and smoothing out operational bottlenecks were the next concern.

NPPL started focusing on two labels – Bendly in the bags category and Hill Fresh in the personal care category. The assistance provided by various online retail channels that they subscribed to turned out to be very helpful. After setting up and settling down in the business, the next challenge appeared – that of business expansion. Although the two brands were experiencing steady sales, the company was looking for further growth in the online retail market. Lack of funds and intellectual manpower were the main reasons for this stagnancy.

Teaming up with Browntape

The online retail market is tough because one needs to always be on top of the day-to-day operations, customer grievances, returns, logistics, etc. This leaves very little room to plan for business expansion issues like entering into new categories and creating new labels. There are two ways in which this problem can be addressed. The first is to hire an employee base and train them to handle the daily operations.

A simpler way is to tie up with an ecommerce solutions provider and let them take over the menial tasks. This is where Browntape came to NPPL’s rescue.

While looking for ecommerce experts to associate with, NPPL found that Browntape had an edge over the competition since they provided support in listings.

What pleasantly surprised them was that Browntape’s team of experts was ready to take over operational areas like onboarding to new marketplaces, listing products, reputation management, handling customer queries, creating invoices, and many more. As a result, Mayank and Shephali were free to do tasks that really mattered in the long run, from managing the brand identities of their labels to expanding into new marketplaces.

“So business has grown with certain speed with support provided by Browntape and we are looking forward to touch new heights with them,” Mayank beams.

Results

The results of this business decision are quite tangible. Since January, sales have increased by a steady 30% each quarter. In fact, sales in the current quarter have already surpassed the figures in the January/March quarter.

NPPL dec-feb edited

Natural Printing’s sales soared in February 2015 after tying up with Browntape.

Apart from that, Amazon has awarded “No.1 seller in messenger bags” to Bendly. This is as much a result of the trendy and vibrant designs as that of the successful collaboration between NPPL and Browntape.

Vijin Nair, Category Manager for NPPL, Browntape says, “A success story in our industry can be ensured only with the perfect combination of product and presentation. We combined NPPL’s value-for-money products with the best customer service and well-defined brand promotion strategies to take it to greater heights.”

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.

India and China in E-Commerce: Rise of the New Frontiers

Although the country in focus when one talks about neighbourhood rivalries in the Indian context is generally Pakistan, in terms of economic growth our real competition lies in China. India and China are two of the fastest growing economies in the world, apart from being two of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) – a group of countries slated to be economic superpowers in the foreseeable future. These two countries are similar in many respects – each is endowed with vast natural resources and geographical and cultural diversity. At the same time, each has been facing a similar set of problems, especially those related to population explosion, political turmoil and economic fluctuations.

In terms of e-commerce, China is already Asia’s largest e-commerce market, surpassing Japan. While India lags behind in terms of scale of operations, the rate at which the e-commerce industry is rising in India is nothing short of meteoric. In this article, we will compare the two countries within the context of their e-commerce industries, in terms of their beginnings, market sizes, government support, growth rates, major players and other important factors.

E-Commerce Scenario in India and China

Beginnings

The idea of e-commerce was first planted in both India and China around the same time. The first B2B marketplace established in India was IndiaMART, established in 1996. It might sound surprising today, but the introduction of e-commerce in India can arguably be attested to IRCTC, a website that is a cause of much chagrin to the Indian consumer today. The Indian government launched the IRCTC ticketing website in 2002, with the aim to provide railway tickets without the hassle of standing in a queue at a reservation counter. In 2003, Air Deccan announced its own online ticketing website, and companies like Yatra.com and MakeMyTrip.com followed suit.

Online retail truly began in India around 2007 with the introduction of eBay, with homegrown companies like ShopClues and Snapdeal entering the market soon afterwards. Amazon launched its subsidiary in India in 2013, the same year when the online retail giant Flipkart set foot in the market. Today, the Indian e-commerce industry is worth $5.3 Billion as of 2014.

The Chinese chapter on e-commerce must begin with Alibaba. Incepted in 1999, Alibaba has grown into the largest online marketplace in the world in a matter of years. In 2003, Bossgoo, a B2B marketplace was established in China. Soon afterwards in 2004, DHGate, China’s first B2B online transaction platform forced other Chinese B2B websites to move away from the yellow pages format.

Markets

http://www.borderfree.com/global-insights/comparing-ecommerce-opportunity-in-china-and-india

Source: Borderfree

Although the Indian and Chinese B2C e-commerce markets are looking at around 30-40% rise every year, they differ vastly in terms of maturity. The Chinese e-commerce market is much more mature as compared to its Indian counterpart. Experts believe that in terms of size, the Chinese market is about 80 times larger than the Indian market. While the Indian market was estimated to be worth $5.3 Billion at the end of 2014, the Chinese market was valued at a whopping $217 Billion.

There are many reasons for this disparity. The lack of penetration of the internet technology in India is a major factor. Most areas in India outside the handful tier 1 and 2 cities experience slow or non-existent internet. China on the other hand boasts some of the largest numbers in terms of internet users. Recent figures indicate that the number of internet users in China is around 600 million, which is around twice the size of those in the USA.

The other factor is the unequal income distribution in the two countries. Although they have roughly the same population size, the Chinese urban middle class accounts for a much higher percentage as compared to India. On the other hand, India has a higher percentage of low income consumers, which becomes an impeding factor for the growth of the e-commerce industry in India.

Major Players

One reason why the Chinese have gained a seemingly unassailable lead in the e-commerce market might be because of the difference in the composition of players in the two economies. Today, there is no one clear market leader in the Indian e-commerce market. Companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon are almost neck-to-neck in the race to become the face of Indian online retail. Even with their billion dollar turnovers, the stark reality in India is that the online retail market only comprises of around 30% share in the total e-commerce market in India. The other 70% can be attributed to service and travel related websites.

While India’s Flipkart failed to cling on to its first mover advantage, China’s Alibaba capitalized on it to become one of the top two e-commerce conglomerates in the world. Alibaba alone boasted a market value of $231 Billion in 2014, coming dangerously close to Amazon’s market value of $241 Billion. Apart from Alibaba, the other major players in the Chinese market are JD.com and Amazon China.

As can be seen, the Indian players have a long way to go before they can match themselves with the likes of Alibaba. In fact, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rehan Yar Khan estimated that the Indian e-commerce market today is where China was in 2007.

Government Regulations

E-Commerce in India is governed by the Information and Technology act of 2000. This blanket act is meant to cover all aspects of cyber law and electronic commerce, including cyber stalking, child pornography, hacking, cracking, network trespassing among other issues. There is no singular, specific law governing e-commerce in India. The Competition Commission of India stands as a sole regulator for all markets in India including the e-commerce market.

The Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China stipulated the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to be the governing body for electronic commerce. Further in 2004, China adopted the Electronic Signature Law, which is widely recognized as the first law in Chinese e-commerce legislation. This law is considered a milestone in the regulation and propagation of Chinese e-commerce, and is one of the reasons for its rapid ascent in the global e-commerce scenario.

It is clear that with governmental support, internet penetration and maturity, the Indian e-commerce market will surely catch up to China. But in how much time remains to be seen.

For more information on this issue or any other query, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts and we are always happy to help!

Cross Border Ecommerce – Everything you need to know

One of the most beautiful things about the internet is that it challenges the idea of a Nation State. Theoretically, one can access data from anywhere on the internet – Your Facebook feed might be stored in a server in Europe while the Gmail that you send might bounce off half a dozen countries before reaching its destined mailbox. It is no wonder that the internet technology has a major role to play in the ecommerce industry.

While the ecommerce industry is based on the ‘sell anywhere’ motif, the legal, technical and logistical issues that arise once we enter the real world from the virtual one constrict the idea of ‘anywhere’. Sellers would then target markets that are in common jurisdictions, with easily available and cost effective logistical support.

With the rise of cross border ecommerce, these walls too are breaking down. In 2012, cross border ecommerce accounted for $300 billion in sales. This figure is likely to reach $1.4 trillion by the end of 2015. Selling abroad is becoming cheaper day-by-day, with online retail giants like Amazon and eBay allowing Indian sellers to list their products in foreign markets.

So, is there really any sense in selling across borders? What are the considerations to do so? Let’s talk more about these issues.

Sell Abroad from India: Cross Border ECommerce

What Exactly is Cross Border ECommerce?

There was a time, only a few years ago, when a person going overseas, especially the US, would be bombarded with requests to buy and bring this gadget or that on their way back home. With the connectivity provided by the internet and the accessibility that is the result of the mobile technology, it has become increasingly easy to become a global consumer.

Cross border ecommerce or International ecommerce is when merchants sell their products or services to consumers located in other countries and jurisdictions. Generally in this case, the consumers and the merchants would not share the same currency or even the same language. This transaction, initiated virtually is then completed by transferring the physical product through various legal jurisdictions, customs, geographies and other factors. The idea is to truly expand the target market of a merchant to its limits.

In an ideal world that cross border ecommerce is incessantly trying to achieve, literally anyone with access to the internet would be able to buy and sell anywhere.

Advantages of Cross Border Ecommerce

So, the first and foremost advantage of cross border ecommerce is that it expands the seller’s market like never before. To use this fact to its fullest extent, a prudent seller would not only recognize but also create new markets for their product. In the current online retail scenario, India’s greatest exports range from spices, condiments, tea, handicrafts like cloth work and woodwork and decorative articles created using traditional processes. Considering the volume of demand that one can envision in cross border ecommerce, finding a market for a niche product thus becomes comparatively easier.

Challenges for Cross Border ECommerce

This type of transaction poses a lot of challenges to the merchants. Firstly, it is important for the seller to have a partner or a beneficiary in the region the sale is taking place, so as to understand the local laws and customs, consumer preferences and cultural differences. Systems would have to be set up in order to tackle with the problems of language and currency. The issue of legality attains special importance since the jurisdiction would first have to be established. Trade laws between countries differ from case to case.

Finally, the issue of logistics arises. Shipping products overseas is far more expensive than doing so domestically, especially because of the customs duties and taxes. It is because of these reasons that most merchants shy away from cross border ecommerce, missing out on the vast market size in the bargain.

Selling Overseas with Online Marketplaces

An easy way out of most of the issues mentioned above is selling overseas through online marketplaces. This is good news especially for Indian sellers because of the recent efforts by companies like Amazon India, Alibaba and eBay to localise a move towards allowing sellers to list their products abroad. With an online marketplace, most of the problems regarding listing, shipping and logistics are solved.

Indigenous products like spices, handicrafts and handmade items already have an established overseas market. We have written about the top five online marketplaces that let you sell abroad before. Countries like China are already taking an active interest in the economic power of cross border ecommerce and crafting policy to reflect it.

To know more about cross border ecommerce, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!

Working capital assistance from online marketplaces: What are your options?

The Indian online marketplace has become a battleground for some big names. With e-retail and m-retail growing at an astounding rate, the Indian e-commerce industry is all set to hit the $100 billion mark by 2020. A few names stand out with respect to online retail, in terms of their sheer market size and growth rate. These are Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. According to a 2014 report by Morgan-Stanley, these three players have shot ahead of the competition. In 2014, Flipkart led with a whopping 44% market share, Snapdeal followed with 32% while Amazon was at number 3 with a 15% market share.

Naturally, these three players are doing everything within their power to one-up each other in the market. This might be some mildly interesting Twitter banter between Flipkart and Amazon, or the coinciding sales that these companies partake in (case in point, the upcoming Amazon sale from 10th to 12th August and the Snapdeal sale from 10th to 16th.) One more area where these three are heavily competing is capital financing for their sellers. Since this is a really important issue for most sellers who subscribe on these marketplaces, we are dedicating this article towards discussing the nuances of the capital financing plans offered by these three.

Flipkart Vs Amazon Vs Snapdeal: Capital Financing

Let us first understand the importance of capital financing. One of the biggest advantages of online retail is the low working capital required to start up. Although this might be true, a seller might be in need of capital to expand their business as they grow. Capital financing is a good way for online marketplaces to assist sellers in business expansion. Each of our three competitors offers comprehensive capital financing plans. Let us look at them individually.

Flipkart

Flipkart has partnered with five financial institutions including Axis Bank, Capital Float, LendingKart and Bajaj Finserv Ltd. to offer financing services to its sellers. Sellers can get loans of amounts starting from Rs. 1 Lakhs to Rs. 2 Crore. The interest rates for the loans are between 11.99% and 12.99% and do not require sellers to put up collaterals. Although all sellers can apply for a loan through this service, Flipkart will choose which sellers to award the loans to. These are line of credit type loans with a 12-month tenure.

Snapdeal

Snapdeal managed to raise over Rs.50 crore through its Capital Assist program. To do this, they have partnered with over 12 banks and NBFCs including Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Religare and L&T Finance. Snapdeal has clearly defined eligibility criteria and selection procedures for its sellers, although applications are open for all sellers.  Tying up with Tata Capital, Snapdeal offers loans starting from Rs.5 Lakhs to Rs.2 Crore at competitive rates and flexible tenures.

Amazon India

Amazon has also recognized that credit is the key factor when it comes to the Indian market. Recently, it introduced its loan program for sellers in 8 countries including India. These short-term working capital loans are offered to selected sellers on an invite-only basis. Amazon cites the high failure rate of small businesses in India and China as the reason behind this strategy. The loans will range from $1,000 to $600,000 (Rs.64, 000 to Rs. 3.8 Crore approximately) and will be offered for a tenure of six months. Amazon plans to make money through the interest on the loans and sale commissions.

This is what we have on capital funding for sellers. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

Top 5 Online Marketplaces in India compared

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

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

Indian Online Marketplaces: A Head-to-Head Comparison

  • Basic Comparison

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

  • Pricing

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

  • Logistics

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

  • Miscellaneous

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

To know more about these online sales channels or in case of any other query, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!

How to Choose the Right Marketplace for Your Products

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

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

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

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

How to Choose Where to Sell Online

  • Analyze Your Product

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

  • Logistics Support

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

  • Marketplace Popularity

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

  • Competition

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

  • Brand Image

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

  • Subscription Cost

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

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

Tier 2, 3 Cities as Potential Markets for Online Retail

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

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

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

  • United They Stand

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

  • Mobile Power

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

  • Women are the Dominant Force

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

  • Indian Online Retail Market Geography

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

  1. Delhi-NCR
  2. Karnataka
  3. Maharashtra

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

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

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

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