Key considerations for brands and e-tailers in India who are gearing up for festive bonanza
The festive season is around the corner and that means customers, as well as markets, are getting ready for huge sales. Statistics show that markets can expect a growth of nearly 400% in their revenues during the festive season. We are already aware that the rest of the year has been particularly difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic and consequent lockdown. A number of markets are switching to selling their goods online, mainly due to the shortage in footfalls this festive season. In 2020 festive season alone, online retailers in India are expected to generate about $6.5 billion in sales with around 55 million to 60 million buyers participating in online sales. Now is a good time for your business to opt for online sales as well. If this is your first time managing e-commerce operations or you are exploring e-commerce as a priority sales channel, here are the different hurdles you are likely to face during the festive season.
Organising and listing your products without the hassle
Just like you would present your store to your customers - organising all your offerings by colour, size, category etc. - it is important to list and file your product details the same online. This means you must be well versed with catalogue creation, catalogue enrichment, seasonal catalogue creation and catalogue pushing. Let’s understand what each of these terms means.
- Catalogue creation - You will need to create different templates, different product formats and nomenclature for different marketplaces.
- Catalogue enrichment - You will need to ensure all the images of your offering are accurately converted and optimised to suit the dimensions and requirements prescribed by the marketplace.
- Catalogue pushing - This refers to creating different catalogues separately for each marketplace.
- Seasonal catalogue - This refers to updating existing catalogues or adding new products to the existing catalogue depending on the season.
While it might not take long to make one catalogue, imagine the time taken to list several hundred or thousand catalogues marking each of your offerings. Having a powerful tool like Vin Lister for product catalogue listing on marketplaces can help you create content once and push it across 20+ marketplaces including Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra in just a few minutes.
Delivering an omnichannel customer experience
Like we mentioned earlier, all your sales efforts will be worthless if your business is unable to deliver an omnichannel experience. This means everything that is offered to the customer offline should also be available online and your business should have the capacity as well as readiness to conduct operations like -
- Ship from a store (online to offline)
- Endless aisle (offline to online)
- Inventory management in real-time
- Returns management across online and offline
Avalara has partnered with Vinculum, a global player in omnichannel retail SaaS platform, to enable brands and retailers to sell on any channel & fulfil customer orders from any location.
Evolving from the old-school approach of selling
Why is it that some e-commerce companies do exceedingly well and some don’t? Is it because of the amount of money invested and the products and services offered? While those could be plausible reasons, even a small e-commerce business is likely to do well if they evolve from the old school approach of selling and look into insights around customer behaviour, buying patterns, big data etc. While this might sound expensive or time-consuming, these insights will actually help your business stay ahead of the curve.
Maintaining customer loyalty
One of the biggest challenges faced by an e-commerce business is the task of maintaining customer loyalty. Unlike an offline store where the customer takes time to visit one store to the next, online shopping allows the customer to open multiple tabs and apps and compare quality, pricing, shipping and delivery timelines. This generally means that the customer tends to switch loyalties depending on the best offers and best experience. To address this challenge, your business must ensure that the customer is satisfied from start to finish. Plenty of online retailers are bound to sell the same product as your business. So create scenarios where your customer will be compelled to shop from you. Loyalty programs, exclusive access to promotions before other customers, customer profile based recommendations, personalised online shopping assistants etc. can give your business a competitive edge.
Streamline your returns process and refund
The biggest disadvantage that the customers face in an online store is the inability to physically experience the look and feel of a product. Very often, if a customer is unhappy with a product, they opt for a refund and return process. In such a situation, it becomes important to handle the product carefully so that it does not get damaged in transit and it is equally important to ensure that the customer is given their refund on time. While e-commerce giants have their in-house shipping amenities, a refund and return process can prove to be expensive for smaller players. This can be combatted by ensuring quality checks to a product before it is shipped and the need to establish a supply chain where inventory is properly distributed, safely stored and is moved by reliable and resourceful shipment companies.
Dealing with supply chain disruptions
The pandemic has disrupted supply chains across the country because of transportation restrictions but now that the country is in its unlock phase, it is important to focus on specific customer insights to ensure that your business’s supply chain doesn’t continue to be disrupted during the festive period. A helpful insight for the festive season is that your business must up its capacities to cater to tier-two and tier-three cities during the festive season as a large population of professionals who used to reside in large cities have returned to their native towns indefinitely because of remote working facilities. To deal with disruption in the supply chain and ensure minimal impact on your customers and service teams, make sure your online business is equipped to:
- Display real-time stock levels and pricing
- Let customers track their deliveries
- Ensure out-of-stock items are marked and notifications when they are back in stock
Local businesses took a huge hit during the lockdown period and with the market situation opening again, businesses are starting to look for new revenue channels. If you are looking to expand your business and sell your products globally cross border on global marketplaces, the next ideal step would be to start understanding the technological, logistical, legal and import duty/customs implications you are likely to consider:
- Product & pricing selection
- Legal & tax compliance
- Item classification
- Import duty and customs
- Payment processing
- Market & channel analysis
- Logistics, fulfilment & returns
- Marketplace promotions & campaigns
- Understanding the international buyer behaviour
Tax challenges during the festive season
One might think comprehensive GST automation technology for GST operations are not a priority but changing tax laws and policies beg to differ. In this year alone, the Central Board for Indirect Taxes and Customs has announced several changes in tax law and policies in terms of taxation rates, tax return forms, filing systems, documentation systems etc. It is not only cumbersome to keep up with all of these evolutions under indirect taxation, the penalty for not maintaining compliance can actually cost your business quite a substantial amount of its hard-earned revenue.
- Issuing correct GST invoices or tax invoices
- Applying correct tax rate while issuing a tax invoice to the transacting party
- Generating the correct e-way bill to ensure smooth movement of goods from one place to another and ensuring their validity
- Adapting to e-invoicing and generating invoice reference numbers for the movement of goods
- Fulfilling all compliance requirements while carrying out cross border transactions while selling products overseas
- Accurately filing of GST returns using valid return forms and ensuring the returns are filed within the deadline
- Increasing logistics capacities with an updated tax functionality for efficient and error-free taxation and delivery of goods; Making sure all stakeholders including manufacturing, wholesale, retail, distribution, warehousing, stocking, logistics and all parties involved in a transaction are up to date on their tax operations
Avalara and Vinculum have partnered to help businesses on several models (dropship or consignment) to suit their volumes & categories during this festive season of 2020. Based on their readiness, we recommend the right model, market, pricing, range, etc. and provide a comprehensive technology solution along with free consulting.
As the GST environment continues to evolve, keeping up with changing policies, evolving technology systems and innovation in tax automation can be a challenging task for already stretched finance and accounting teams who are dependent on manual tax operations.
Avalara's India GST e-Invoicing Solution can help you connect multiple data sources like ERP, e-commerce platforms, accounting systems through API integration as well as direct upload by supporting multiple data formats. Avalara will help you with your preparation for the upcoming mandatory e-invoicing regulations by helping you get on the right track. To start with, we will understand your business needs, help you with your ERP integration, get your GST returns and e-way bills automated, make invoice reconciliation a cakewalk, set up GST calculation engine, support GST registration, if required.
To learn more, please reach out to us how we can help the retail and brand manufacturer industry, and schedule inquiries with our team of solution experts to discuss your e-invoicing, GST compliance or omnichannel needs. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms across industries during this festive season, check out our offering in collaboration with Vinculum.
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