Are you sailing in the same Boat? : Retailer Diaries
Over a period time I’ve closely observed all small and big E-commerce businesses and I feel that the answer to the retailers’ biggest problem of making money remains with the business itself. The answer to the retailer’s dilemma on whether to participate or not in the E-commerce wave, considering the certainty to bleed money on one hand, and the insecurity of losing out on potential growth opportunities on the other hand, is more internal than external.
Listed below are a few potential action plans that should help retailers address this dilemma:
Stop step-brotherly treatment:
No one has forced you to do E-commerce. You’re the one who chose it, so make it feel like it’s your own limb, and love your online sales channel as much as you love your offline sales channel. In the world of nuclear families this is one particular event where you need to sell hard the values of joint family. Simply put rather than positioning E-commerce business as your foreign return son who has got a high-maintenance NRI bahu who lacks substance, make it a part of the Organization’s Vision, the Chairman’s Dream, and let the dynamism integrate in such a way that your entire business family can value it.
Hire, and Hire Right!
Remember the amount of effort, bandwidth, and cost you put into hiring the Brand Manager, Merchandising Head, CFO, COO, and all the other business heads for your Offline store. In the same way, even ecommerce requires specialized skill sets, right from the CTO and CMO to the COO. Do not compromise with this requirement, unless of course you have a partner like us :). Evaluate the strengths of the existing team members and do not be hesitant from recruiting new people. Remember, all your investments will be wasted if you do not have the right team in place. Your current CMO who identifies places for banners across the city may not be capable enough to place banners in the digital space.
Be like GOD. Be Omnipresent!
Do not restrict yourself to any one platform or hardware. Your customers want you to be present across all platforms and devices at all times, just like you want your God to be available wherever and whenever you need him. Going online does not mean having your own website or being available only on market places like big daddy. It means being available across market places and devices. You need to be on desktops, tablets, mobiles, and all possible places where you think your consumer can be. Just don’t stop, keep exploring, because technology keeps changing.
Innovation is the Mantra!
Not just WHAT you sell, but even HOW you sell it is as important. Remember the amount of time and energy you spent in designing your store, distinguishing your brand identity, designing the product, and other things? E-commerce needs innovation at every stage, right from creating a shopping experience, to delivery options, to flexible payments. The more you innovate, the more you attract buyers, and the more you sell.
Blur the lines!
This, I believe is the most important factor for a successful E-commerce business, or any business in general. No separate inventory, no separate operations, integrated marketing, and multiple sales channels (E-commerce being one of them) are the parts of this success mantra. Optimize your marketing and operation costs and de-risk your inventory. Remember ‘Thinner the line, higher the ROI’
Purpose. Purpose. Purpose.
You need to constantly focus on the purpose of E-commerce. Both valuation and profit have different journeys, and the intersection is quite far away. Be honest to yourself and do not get sidetracked. ‘Pursuit Valuations if you are creating a market, but if you’re just participating in one of them, then focus on profits.’
So now you have the basic steps you need to take in order to successfully run an ecommerce business. Everything else is just a matter of how you implement them. Good luck! :)