Top 5 Online Marketplaces in India compared

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

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

Indian Online Marketplaces: A Head-to-Head Comparison

  • Basic Comparison

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

  • Pricing

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

  • Logistics

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

  • Miscellaneous

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

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

Tier 2, 3 Cities as Potential Markets for Online Retail

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

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

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

  • United They Stand

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

  • Mobile Power

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

  • Women are the Dominant Force

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

  • Indian Online Retail Market Geography

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

  1. Delhi-NCR
  2. Karnataka
  3. Maharashtra

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

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

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

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

Hottest Product Categories in Indian Online Retail

Online retail profits have been leapfrogging for the past few years in India. Especially with the advent of cheap smartphone technology and the enthusiasm online retail platforms have provided in terms of m-commerce, online sales have truly skyrocketed. The first question every prospective online retailer has in mind is – ‘What do I sell?’ There are differing answers to this question, depending upon various perspectives.

One way is to figure out the most popular product to sell and enter the extremely competitive market. Since a large market base is divided by many suppliers, you are bound to get a small share, but the opportunity for growth is slow. The other way is to create a market base using a niche product. This article makes a good case for this strategy. Also check out Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Phenomenon, which describes this course of action, is detail.

The point is, whichever way you go, you do need to know about the current demand trends in the market. These trends can directly affect you, or they can affect you through a secondary market basis. But it is important to know. Therefore we are providing information about the Indian online retail market in this post, and its current demand trends and hottest product categories. Let’s take a look.

Demand Trends in the Indian Online Retail Market in 2015

Market Description

The total turnover of the e-commerce market in India is supposed to hit $16 billion in 2016. Of this, nearly 31% belongs to online retail and 61% belongs to the travel industry while the rest can be chalked up to wholesale and other services. According to the data gathered by Accel India, the number of internet users in India will grow to more than 400 million by 2016. Of these, more than 60% generally frequent e-commerce websites. The conversion rate from visitors to buyers is expected to jump to 2.9% from 2.7% in 2013. This means that the gross turnover due to online retail will exceed $8.5 billion in 2016.

Hot Product Categories

According to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, or IAMAI, mobile phones and their accessories are the highest selling items on online retail websites like Flipkart and Snapdeal. The online retail industry, growing at the rate of more than 33% currently, favours various product categories in the following order –

  1. Mobile phones and accessories: Mobile phones and accessories hold a 41% market share with sales worth around Rs. 9,936 crore.
  2. Apparel, footwear, etc.: Personal items like apparel, footwear and other accessories come second in the race for the most popular online retail category. They cover around 20% of the market with sales upwards of Rs. 4,699 crore.
  3. Consumer Durables: Consumer durables like kitchen appliances and other accessories account for 14% of the online retail market. The sales in this category have been worth Rs. 3,404 crore.
  4. Laptops/notebooks/other electronic items: Laptops and other electronic items consist of 10% of the market with sales up to Rs. 2,780 crore
  5. Home furnishings: Home furnishings show sales of Rs. 1,059 crore
  6. Books: Books have garnered sales of Rs. 648 crore.

These are some of the sales figures for the year 2014-15. We hope these will help you in your strategy to sell on online platforms.

For any help or queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions experts and we are always happy to help!

How to Create an Effective Call to Action

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

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

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

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

Characteristics of an Effective CTA

  • It is Personal

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

  • It is Assertive

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

  • It Employs the Carrot and the Stick

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

  • Risk Reduction

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

  • Attention Retention

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

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

How to Categorize Your Products on Your Online Portal

Think of it this way – when you enter a supermarket looking for a toothbrush, and you find it in the pet food section, aren’t you frustrated? Categorisation in the real world is done to increase efficiency for both the customer and the seller. Imagine frustrated customers leaving their shopping and storming out of your store just because they could not find a particular product in its category. Also imagine the pain you would have to go through while trying to tally the inventory and discovering juice boxes in the clothing aisle. Now imagine the same situation in the online world.

Online, there is a tiny difference in the way things work. When a customer is looking for a product on a search engine, it is the engine that is doing the actual ‘looking’. If your product categorisation were non-existent or faulty, the search engine would take more time to look for it, or overlook it completely.

When a customer searches for a product on your website, the search function is handled by the website architecture. Again, hotch-potch classification of products would lead to null results. This means that, you are either frustrating the customer, or annoying the search engine when you are being lazy about product categorization. What is the result? Customer dissatisfaction, low conversion of CPC, and ultimately, loss.

To simplify the search process, product categorization is advised. This means that all the products featured on your website would be subdivided into broad categories, that would be further subdivided into subcategories, making it easier for both the customer and the search engine to access a product.

Let us look at a few simple principles you must keep in mind while doing this.

Principles of Product Categorisation

  • Understand the Basics of Search and Sort

Your website is built to accommodate, sort and search the various entities that you feature on it. But it does so adhering to a particular algorithm. For example, type in ‘bowtie’, and ask the website to search in the apparel category, it will restrict its search to all entities present in the apparel category. Now, if you ask the website to search the same keyword in all categories, you might find something like ‘How to Tie a Bowtie for Dummies’, in your search results. The idea is, while making product subcategories, would you make one called ‘Bowties’? A solution to this problem is tagging a product with multiple attributes, rather than sub categorization. So the aforementioned book can be tagged as ‘Bowtie’ and ‘Book’, and would feature in both results. Subcategories can be rigid and watertight. Use the power of the virtual world and go for something more subtle and flexible.

  • Be Specific

Do not rely on generalisations. Usually, your list of products is so huge that you can be overwhelmed with the idea of individually categorising products. But it’s important, and there are many tools available to help you do it. One bad habit is to make a ‘Miscellaneous’ category and dump all the ambiguous products into that. Be wary of the miscellaneous category, because it confuses more times than it helps. A good way to go about it is to mark boundaries with broad strokes (You would rarely have a product fitting in both Electronics and Apparel categories), and try to place all your products in one or the other. Unless you are serving an extremely niche line of products, this won’t be too difficult.

  • Use Google’s Guidelines

Google has provided sellers across the world with exhaustive instructions on how to categorise your products so that it is easier for the search engine to find the right ones. In fact, this categorisation is mandatory for most countries. Although India is not one of them, it is always a good idea to follow some of the guidelines laid down by Google. Here is what they say about it.

‘For all target countries except Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, India, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Turkey, ‘Google product category’ is required for all items that fall within the ‘Apparel & Accessories’, ‘Media’, and ‘Software’ categories. If your products do not fall into one of those categories – or if your feed targets Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, India, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, or Turkey, – this attribute is recommended but not required. ‘

Google provides you with downloadable product categories and taxonomy that you can build upon and tailor according to your needs. Take a look at it in detail here.

  • Consumer vs Search Engine

Consider two scenarios – You tell yourself, if a consumer searches for a product that is available on my website, in no circumstance will I categorize my products such that the required product does not appear in the search results. If you lay down this rule for yourself, what is the sure shot way of getting it done? The only foolproof way is to put all your products into all your categories. This means that there will be a page for ‘How to Tie a Bowtie for Dummies’, inside the ‘Books’ category, the ‘Apparel’ category, even the ‘Media’, ‘Software’, ‘Electronics’ categories. This is the only way with which there is a guarantee that if a consumer searches for this product in any manner, the search engine would be able to find it.

Now imagine this scenario from the point of view of a search engine. The engine would now encounter multiple pages of the same product, one in each category, and would simply have no idea how to deal with them. This is a slightly drastic example, but we hope you get the idea. The idea is to find a middle ground and create a system that maximizes efficiency, and not accuracy.

This is what we have on product categorization. If you have any queries, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Browntape. We are always happy to help!

The Basics of Multi Channel Online Catalogue Management

Catalogues are a much loved and much hated word in the vocabulary of someone involved in the eTailing business. They can be immensely helpful if they are well designed and clear, but usually this is not the case, which makes them tedious and difficult to read. For a multi-channel online seller, online catalogues are the first line of communication with customers, and first impressions last. At the same time, catalogues are also the primary way with which sellers can keep track of their product. Thus, the catalogue needs to be created and managed properly, especially because its such a dynamic entity. Products, specifications and pricing keep changing constantly, which means your catalogue has to be changed constantly too. Here are a few tips with which you can effectively manage your catalogues and help you better transition into online sales.

Multi Channel Catalogue Management

1. Create a Clean Catalogue

We cannot stress the importance of this point enough. Your catalogue is going to be published on all your online channels, and become the face of your enterprise. Customers tend to look at the professionalism and uniformity of information to judge the trustworthiness of the vendor. Hence, display all relevant information in a clean, clear-cut manner. Fill up exact data including pricing, product specification, size and weight when required, warranties, licenses, etc. Supplement it with good, attractive pictures of your product. One thing to take care of is creating and providing accurate product codes and specifications in a consistent format. Keep the catalogue backend handy, because the information tends to change often.

2. Uniformity Between Multiple Channels

As a multi channel seller, you have virtual stores in multiple online locations. To establish your integrity around the market, it is necessary that the information you provide on your catalogues through all the channels checks out accurately. Since catalogues are so dynamic in their nature, it can be a hassle to change them individually on every channel. This can also be risky and increase the chance of error. One way to do this is integrate all your channels and make changes through one common portal. You can do this by using a multi channel inventory management system that allows you to manage and edit all your online catalogues through single access.

3. Employ Technology

We have a detailed article on why you should employ technology in your overall sales process here. Now we focus on the role of technology in your multi channel catalogue management process. We advise you to go for a comprehensive inventory management tool that works across multiple channels and helps you manage your catalogues effectively. Sophisticated ones come with tools to control and edit the content on your multi channel catalogues through a single portal. You can further use automation to handle recurrent phenomenon like sales linking, copying relevant catalogue content to sales invoices and promoting your catalogue online. Sometimes, you would think it strategically wise to display different products on different online channels. In such case, single entry, multi channel inventory management can route your priorities into relevant databases, error and hassle free.

4. Know Your Way Around the System

Catalogue data management can be tricky. Especially since catalogues are not only the primary source of information for the customer, but also for you. With at least ten orders coming in per channel every day and new products being added to it on regular intervals, you need to create efficient systems and pathways to connect all your processes to the catalogue. You do not want to find yourself in a position where your catalogue states availability for a certain product while your inventory states otherwise. Catalogue/inventory discrepancies can lead to major embarrassments. Again, technology can come to your rescue. You can automate inventory changes so that they are uploaded directly into your catalogues.

Lastly, if you are not confident about the state of your existing catalogue, please do not hesitate to get professional help. Get in touch with Browntape to know more about multi channel catalogue management. Our comprehensive multi channel inventory management system has many features that can effectively deal with your catalogue management issues.