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 choose the right domain for your online store

It can be a daunting process to set up a new website, especially if that website is crucial for your business. If you are an online retailer looking to branch out and host your own online store, this article is for you. Designing a website is just a fraction of this process. Various intrinsic systems that actually run the website have to be coded and set up. But before one goes into the business of actually making the website, one has to go through a few steps – your website’s domain has to be registered and a web host has to be appointed. But what is domain name registration?

Every website that you visit on the internet is registered to a domain. It’s like finding somebody’s phone number in a phone book. You look for John Smith in the book and you find the number. Similarly, when you type www.browntape.com on your internet browser, the computer searches through an online directory of domain names and addresses to locate the address for the Browntape website. These addresses are numerical, and usually go something like 179.121.134.0. This number is the address of your website, and you need to register that address with a registry so that other computers can find it by searching for your domain name.

For international domain suffixes like .com, .org, .info, etc. the official registry is the ICANN, or Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers. For an Indian domain name like .co.in, the authority is called INRegistry. There are many licensed domain name registrars that register your website domain in these authorities. They charge you according to the fees required to register your domain type plus a certain amount for the services that they offer. Many domain registrars also provide extra services that include 24×7 assistance and troubleshooting, customer service, etc.

Things You Must Know Before Registering Your Domain

  • Do a Thorough Background Check

The domain registration business is full of sharks and crooks that are out to get your money. Scams are pretty common here, especially since you rarely physically visit the domain registrar’s office. Firstly, you must check whether the registrar is truly affiliated with ICANN and INRegistry. Thoroughly check their reviews and if possible talk to a few people who have subscribed to their services.  Reading the fine print here is extremely important, because many outfits are designed to scam you on the basis of your signature on the dotted line.

  • Check for Customer Support

Once your site is live, tech support is going to be your basic necessity. You don’t want to be in a situation where your website is down due to DNS errors, errors in transferring the domain or transferring administrative privileges and you don’t have anyone on hand to fix your problems. This delay would cost you valuable time and money. Many registrars offer you basic plans with nominal tech support and ask you to upgrade for a more hands-on support experience. You shouldn’t mind spending a few bucks extra at the outset rather than to suffer heavy losses in the future.

  • SSL Certification

For an online retailer, SSL certification is of paramount importance. SSL certificates are tiny data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s files. When installed on a web server, they create a digital padlock and provide a safe connection between the server and the browser. Typically, SSL certificates are required for monetary transactions over the internet, among other secure data transfer. As somebody who is in charge of overseeing hundreds of online transactions, you must make sure that your domain registrar also provides you with SSL certification.

  • Web Hosting

Although there are many organizations that offer specialized web hosting services, it makes more sense to avail them from your domain registrar itself. This way you only have to deal with one tech support team instead of two and it might also be cheaper for you in the long run.

  • Pricing

Finally, the pricing. One big misunderstanding about web hosting is that the prices depend upon the domain name. That is not true. You don’t have to pay more for a longer domain name, for instance, or a better one. What the pricing depends upon is the suffix that you want to register to. International suffixes like .com would cost a bit more, as compared to something like .co.in. Here is a list of a few reputed domain registrars and their pricing policies.

If you need any more info about domain name registration for your online store, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

What is Mobile Commerce? Should You Capitalise on it?

If you have not heard about mobile commerce or m-commerce, you are already a bit late to the party. The steady shift of retail from offline to online seems to have culminated into the world of smartphones, tablets and smart wearables. And it was a well-expected change. With the rise of the smartphone era, internet shopping has become as fundamental an amenity as a phone itself. This means everything from ordering take-out to buying your next smartphone can and is being done from your current smartphone. What does this mean to the world of online retail?

When mobile phones were first introduced to the market, no one could have fathomed how indispensable they would become to contemporary human life. Today, owning a smartphone makes you a part of not just a lifestyle, but also a colossal economic superstructure. Mobile commerce is just a fraction of this, but in the context of modern retail, it seems to be an unstoppable force. The numbers say it all. In US and UK markets, mobile retail sales account for more than 25% market share in 2015. Moreover, no single device owns more than 20% of total e-commerce market share. The conclusion is simply that mobile commerce cannot be ignored.

So let’s look at some of the basics of mobile commerce and a few things that you can do to gain a sure footing in this territory.

How to Enter Mobile Commerce?

  1. Segregate the Market

As we saw in the figures above, mobile commerce is steadily eating up the net e-commerce market share. Some may dismiss mobile commerce by saying that at the end of the day, a sale is a sale whether it came from a mobile device or a computer. You would have to visit the same website on either device, right? Although they would not be technically wrong, there is a major factor one has to consider.

According to this Economic Times report, India will have more than 651 million smartphone users by 2019. It is already the second largest smartphone market in the world. Considering the fact that most smartphone users prefer to shop using their phones rather than a computer, it is necessary for you to devise strategies specifically for smartphones. This has to start with the basics – segmentation, personalisation and customisation. This is about fundamentally changing the ways of thinking about the market, because the technology itself is changing the market fundamentally.

  1. Design for Mobile

Many online retailers are wary of the idea of building an app for their enterprise because it can be quite expensive to do so. Although that is true, making an app is not the only thing you can do to enter the mobile market. Again, we go back to basics – the most apparent change due to the mobile transition is that now data can be viewed on multiple screens with different dimensions.

This does not sound like too pressing an issue, but just try to book a ticket on irctc using your mobile phone and you will see exactly what I am talking about. There is a lot of innovation that has gone into the development and design of responsive mobile websites, that don’t take anything away from the user experience regardless of the device being used.

  1. Making an App

Making your own app is actually not such a bad idea. The decision to do so is dependent on a few key factors. Resources are of course a consideration, but more importantly, the nature of your product or service should be a pivotal factor.

For example, if you offer a niche product, or a small range of products, an app might not be the best idea. It is difficult to think of somebody downloading an app that just sells raincoats, for example. If you do decide to build an app for your enterprise, understand that it is a long-term investment. Apps and mobile sites are where the really power of mobile commerce truly shows.

Mobiles are the most personal computing devices we own, and a shopping experience there has to be equally personal. To cater this means to build an app that remembers stuff like the customer’s name, their interests, past searches, past transactions, and utilises this information to intelligently assist customer while shopping. Else, your app is nothing but a glorified sales window.

  1. Driving Traffic to Mobile

After you set up your mobile commerce real estate, it is important to drive traffic there. In the long run, you would benefit from your customers shopping from your app/mobile site as compared to from a computer. This is because as I mentioned in the previous point, mobile commerce really banks on the personalisation aspect of sales. This 2012 article states that 40% of all online sales are a result of impulse buys. This is an eye-opening statistic, because it is much easier to harvest this impulse buying impulse through mobile as compared to traditional e-commerce. Also, mobile notifications are much less annoying as compared to spam emails.

To know more about mobile 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.

Making the Most of Your Independent Website

Online selling newbies always have to deal with an important question – marketplace or dedicated website? Creating and managing a website to sell your products online, while competing with giants like Amazon and Flipkart can be a daunting task, because of which novice sellers are advised to start slow, and stick with the online marketplace program. We think that selling on marketplaces is a great idea, but once you’re comfortable with the systems and procedures of going about it, it is good to think about adding a dedicated website into your arsenal.

Of course, the logistics of managing a sales website are not a joke, but if you shake off the initial inertia, you get to reap maximum benefits of the internet. There are many things that are involved in setting up a dedicated online store. Last week we talked about how to help you decide whether you should go for an independent website or not. Today we will talk about the basic aspects of how to manage and grow your website and make a mark in a forum that is otherwise crowded with sellers who tend to play it safe.

Managing and Growing Your Website

1. Integrate it with your inventory management system

The best part about managing your own website is that you don’t need to do anything different to manage its logistics. If you have a multi-channel inventory management system like Browntape that manages your online marketplaces, you can add your dedicated website into the mix and let all the orders and inventory funnel through one portal. This makes your job much easier, since now all you have to worry about is handling the payments and couriers – things that were managed by your marketplace before. But the major job of order management can be handled by your trusty inventory management system.

2. Pay attention to SEO

The most effective way of inducing and sustaining traffic on your website is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. The content on your website is scanned to match with keywords that the user feeds into a search engine. The fresher and more optimized your content is to the expected keywords, the better the chances are of your website showing up in the top search results. It is a very tricky thing to sustain search engine popularity. You need to put a lot of thought in your web content and website design to make this possible. You can learn a few search engine optimization tips and make small changes to your website accordingly – they go a long way. Also consider having a rolling blog on your website, giving customers general information about your products and the market. It will keep the content fresh and increase the chances of your website showing up on top of the search results.

3.Manage payment gateways

As an independent website owner, one important responsibility that falls upon your shoulders is managing payment gateways. Most online marketplaces broker the payment gateways for you, like PaisaPay for eBay and PayZippy for Flipkart. Organizing and installing a payment gateway is not a very difficult job. You should spend a few minutes comparing tariffs of different trustworthy payment gateways in India.

4. Organize product catalogues

Organize your product catalogues carefully before you publish them online. The first step is to categorize your products into relevant groups that will be appealing to the consumer. Make sure that the terminology you use to name your categories is explained. Divide your categories into further sub-categories and place your products in a way that they are easy to access. Try tagging and cross-referencing your products through different categories, if need be. Click good pictures and add all relevant details for the products before uploading your online catalogue.

5. Master social media

Since you are up against established and popular marketplace giants in your dedicated website venture, our advice is to create and maintain a niche for yourself in the online world. Many mainstream social media marketing tips won’t work for you, and you will have to be slightly more creative in managing your social media accounts. Personalization is easier and works better with smaller ventures, and you must focus more on that. Use Facebook, Twitter and even email to create personalised, organic marketing campaigns. Don’t forget to reward loyal customers and have public interactions with them.

6. Track and analyse

The final piece of advice we can give you is to keep your eyes and ears open in the market. Study your competitors, even the goliaths. Look for patterns in their schemes and offers. Analyse your own web traffic carefully. If your website design is organic, you will be able to move products and offers around according to your need. Remember, every little detail matters. A simple matter of putting the checkout button in a hard-to-find place, or having a confusing color scheme/typography puts off many customers. Look how far the customers are going within your website. If you observe any bottlenecks due to faulty design, remove them ASAP.

These were a few tips and tricks on how to make the most of your independent website. If you need more information or have any queries about the subject matter, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading inventory management systems providers, and are always eager to provide smart solutions for everyday e-commerce problems.

 

Things You Need to Take Care of During the Pre-Order Stage

Being a successful e-commerce business can be very rewarding, but it also requires a lot of careful planning and effort to make it that way. Previously, we have discussed how an online business operation can be divided into three parts – the pre-order stage, the ordering stage and the post-order stage. We have already discussed the order management stage in detail here. Now, let’s look at the processes involved in the pre-ordering stage of an online business.

‘Ordering’ is the aspect of a transaction where the customer initiates contact with you for the express purpose of buying a product. Even though this might arguably be the most important step in the life cycle of a seller’s business, the preparation that goes on before the ordering step is the key to a successful transaction. There are a few systems and best practices that need to be firmly in place for an online business to be ready to successfully take an order. Let us look at 9 major areas in an online transaction that you need to take care of during the pre-order stage.

What to do during the Pre-Order Stage?

1. Do your market research

Probably the first step to take when you are setting up your online business. Nothing beats thorough research when it comes to getting ready for your online sales. Your market research should be broken up into audience research, product research, brand analysis, scanner research, etc. There are many tools available online that will help you conduct a thorough market research.

2. Sourcing/Purchasing

Filling up your stock should be your next major concern, after market research. The data you have acquired from your market research should be helpful in deciding the amount of stock you wish to warehouse. Be careful while sourcing your inventory, and use trustworthy wholesalers. Create and manage warehousing spaces according to your requirements.

3. Product pricing

Pricing your product can be a delicate balancing act between your costs as a manufacturer/retailer and the amount a customer is ready to pay for the particular product. Again, your analysis and research should come in handy at this stage. Remember that prices are seldom permanent. Keep an eye on your competitors’ pricing with respect to yours, and understand the pitfalls of overpricing and underpricing your product.

4. SKU coding

SKU coding is like the catalogue to the library that is your inventory. And without proper SKU codes, your inventory will just end up being a huge indecipherable pile of products. Having clean, easy to access SKU codes will make your inventory management process very easy. Browntape is one inventory management system that will seamlessly integrate your SKU codes into the day to day processes and transactions. You can benefit from our previously written guide on how to create good SKU codes.

5. Create marketplace accounts/website

Now is the time when you proclaim yourself as an online seller. You can create seller’s accounts on various online marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, Flipkart, etc. according to your preferences. You can also create a dedicated website for your products instead of employing the services of any of these sales channels. Browntape is a multi-channel inventory management system, which means that it will integrate your presence on multiple online sales channels together so that you can easily access all your transactions on one page.

6. List products

Once you have created the necessary accounts on the sales channels of your preference, you need to fill them up with your products. Please make sure to provide accurate and precise information about your products. Be honest and professional in all the content that you display, since you will continuously be judged on the basis of the tone of the information that you provide here.

7. Payment processing

Finally, you will need to set up systems for processing payments from the customers. This means providing tax information, company registration documents, etc. to your online sales channel, so that they can set up a payment gateway for you. Many sales channels have dedicated online payment services in their repertoire, eg. PaisaPay for eBay. At the same time, if you own an individual website, you will need to collaborate with services such as PayPal to get online payment processing available.

8. Packing and Shipping Setup

Major online marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon and eBay among others provide fulfilment models when it comes to packing and shipping products. Signing up with them means that you get to benefit from their packing and shipping tie-ups. But if you own an independent dedicated website, or are affiliated with a marketplace that does not provide these services, you need to set up and manage a shipping and courier provider. Your choice of shipping provider will be based on your location, the service provider’s trustworthiness and quality of service. In this case, you will also have to create systems for shipping costs and managing product returns.

9. Advertising

Finally, advertising and marketing are important issues that you will have to think about during the pre-ordering stage. Your goal is to increase the brand visibility by using various means available to you. With various social media platforms, this becomes extremely easy and cost efficient. You will have to spend some time and resources into creating a good level of brand recognition and coming up with a simple and effective marketing strategy. Creating a positive buzz around your brand will definitely go a long way into increasing its sale value.

Now, you are ready to sell your products online. We will look at each of the above points in detail in the subsequent posts, but if you have any queries or doubts regarding the pre-ordering process or anything related to e-commerce business, get in touch with Browntape. We strive to help you achieve success in the online marketplace!