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5 expert tips for optimizing online selling in India

Saahil Goel
19th Mar 2018
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Sellers in India have been gravitating towards the e-commerce domain, drawn by its potential to deliver greater revenue and success. This shift is more pronounced in lifestyle categories like clothing, accessories, gadgets, and home decor, as the audience for these products in urban markets have shifted to purchasing them online. However, just opening an online store doesn’t automatically improve revenue.

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E-commerce, like any other retail market, is highly competitive. For sellers to optimize their business and become successful, they have to do more than just enter the market; they have to stand out in the crowd and reach their target audience, strategically and effectively. Long-term success is far more likely to come to sellers that adapt their approach to selling in this medium, learn how to promote themselves, and follow these tips:

Find your target: Curation of products and catering to niche requirements

While it might seem like a short and amusing episode now, fidget spinners – and their ‘viral’ success – certainly brought a lot of sales and money to those who recognized and catered to the trend at the right time. It will be very useful for sellers to study the market for trends to identify current or upcoming supply and demand gaps. 

By focusing on a specialized demand, you cater to a narrower audience, but you also have the opportunity to really dominate the space and outmanoeuvre your competition. For instance, if you were planning to sell tea online, larger retail brands would use their deeper pockets and greater brand awareness to convert each customer. However, if you focus on a narrow niche – say, premium flavoured organic teas – you’ll thin out the competition from most of the big brands. Faced with only a handful of other sellers in that space, you will find it easier to grab the consumer’s attention and sell your product.

This is even more relevant for those trading in third-party wares. As consumers continue getting spoilt for choice, strategically curating products within a niche and then making that a prominent part of your sales pitch can be useful. Customers looking for niche products would find your store a convenient supplier, helping you gain more business and steady sales.

• Add your story to your product pitch and weave a compelling narrative

One of the reasons Starbucks has become a global giant was the creation of a narrative that highlighted values which resonated with its target audience. Drinking coffee in a relaxed atmosphere, where the walls spoke of making the world a better place, helped consumers believe that they had found a new ‘home’ to drink coffee in.

Coffee drinkers aren’t a unique demographic – all consumers are looking to connect with the story behind a product when they make a purchase. They visualize their use of the product, the associated meaning behind it, and how that will be perceived by those around them when they use it. By selecting certain values that your store or brand stands for, helps to create an emotional connection with customers. 

Choose values which connect to why you started your product line, why it is different from the others, and what you imagine the future for your business, consumers, and the world to be like. This not only helps in promoting sales but in creating a great repeat funnel.

• Don’t forget the fundamentals: In India, price reigns supreme

Even though pricing is more important for mass-produced and standardized goods, it is still one of the most influential factors for products sales in India. Getting the price right can help convert more visitors and get more sales.

There are different approaches to finding the right price. Once you identify the right customer segment, pricing your product just a touch below the competition as an early entrant is one method; you can start improving your margins when you establish a connection with customers and expand your catalogue. Another approach is to start with lower pricing to attract high volumes of sales, which can help you utilize economies of scale to lower production costs and optimize processes, thus improving the profit margins.

• Bring your customers back by focusing on repeat sales

Long-term success in the e-commerce market comes from repeat purchases. Bringing in new customers will get the ball rolling, but acquiring a customer in the first instance is at least 5 times more expensive than getting a repeat customer. Repeat buyers are also less effort to win over, as they are already aware of your brand and its quality. 

CRM and re-marketing strategies can help you reach out to prior customers, and tailored communication through e-mail and SMS at strategic intervals can drive perfect purchase cycles. For example, if a product is likely to get consumed or worn out in 6 months, reaching out to repeat customers 6 months after the date of purchase could create regular and rewarding repeat business in the medium and long-term.

• Stand out with impeccable customer service

In India, customers expect to reach your support staff on the phone and get responses to e-mails, so doing this alone will not be enough to distinguish your brand from the competition. Sellers do better when they invest in delighting customers and instilling trust. Customers inherently respect well-laid out processes and systems that bring greater convenience to their lives. 

If each product goes with some communication that lays out an easy process for returns or to raise disputes post-order, you will gain loyal customers and great word-of-mouth promotion in the market. A good experience with your support team can help get you good social reviews of your products, which can, in turn, drive better sales and ease new customer acquisition.

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