Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wondering how to sell online?

Firstly, the question that strikes our minds is whether online promotion is a necessary step in the product marketing or not? The answer is simple – Yes! If you're planning to globally sell products on a wide scale, then offline tools of marketing are not adequate to reach a considerably large consumer-base or boost up the overall sales of the products, besides being overtly expensive.

Generally, first-time online sellers are apprehensive of the methods of selling on the internet and indulge in ad-hoc ways of selling their products. However, they negate the possibility of reaching a wider audience base and getting a better positioning of their products for very minimal investment.
Coming back to the point, when one has decided to enter the online arena for his products, it is required that one takes the necessary measures on the online platform while planning to build up an online brand image and to reach the maximum audience composition,

The key aspects to be considered for online selling are as follows :

- Choose the products appropriate for online promotion – The appropriate selection of products for online marketing is also very essential in the initial stages. Some of the products like apparels, accessories and cosmetics are not instantly ordered online by the consumers. They prefer in testing the products and trying out different options before making a purchase.

- Online branding of the product – Building e-commerce sites, either on a small or major scale requires in-house expertise or an efficient website developing company.

- Selection of the payment mode – The mode of payment of e-stores ranges from credit card transactions to direct bank transfer. The provision of merchant accounts with secure web stores should be ensured.

- Aggressive promotion of the e-commerce site – There are various online tools employed for online promotion of shopping portals. These include search engine submissions, addition of site to different online directories, opt-in email campaigning, link exchange, banner and link ads.

Therefore, for initiating a larger consumer base for the products in the online medium, the generation of the traffic to the web stores is critical. In this regard, both online and offline modes of promotion should be considered for providing better visibility to the web stores.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How digital marketing has boosted the Indian book publishing industry?

The Book publishing industry of India(worth 80-billion) is growing at a rapid pace of 15 percent every year. With innovative online marketing strategies being employed in the promotional activities, the industry is among the most flourishing and lucrative sectors in India.

It caters to a divergent literary and academic pool. The Indian books are published in 24 recognised languages out of which 18 are more prominent including English. Each language has its own readership and author-following. Moreover, India is the third largest English publisher, next only to the UK and the USA. It has a huge readership of Hindi (20,000 books published annually) followed by English, Tamil, Bangla and Marathi. Despite these staggering facts, the Indian book publishing industry has been facing issues related to the distribution and postal rates for the carriage of books.

Its solution came in the form of the online formats of promotional strategies in all aspects of the book-selling. Now, the publishers have been using blog discussions, e-mails to readers to promote newly launched titles and for previewing booklets.

What would the blogs for these books provide us with?

- Post-search tool for finding publications
- RSS subscription for visitors
- Information on latest and popular books
- Lead generation with readers' information on the site
- Fast indexing by search engines
- Instant feedback for new book titles
- Book reviews by experts,users

Why e-mail marketing for reaching the readers?

- Global reach as e-mailing is the most practised online activity
- Is cost effective as it reaches maximum audience at minimal expense
- Is interactive, with two-way communication
- Highly personalized
- Gives round-the-clock marketing
- Provides targeted marketing
- Offers Opt-in or unsubscribe options
- Gives fastest response

All in all, with the application of the online marketing techniques, the Indians books are getting more visibility and reaching a wider audience composition. Now the Indians books stand safe alongside the hard international competitors which earlier swept the market through the virtual book stores.

Changing Buying Culture of Online Shoppers!

What does the Indian customer's shopping basket consist of? Durables? Jewelry? Music? Electronics or Grocery? Is he looking out for a one-stop shopping destination? How is he paying for his purchases? Does he wait for promotions and markdowns? Do customers living in different metros have similar likes?

Such questions certainly tend to loom large upon any business which is trying to establish its roots in the online circuit. Getting an answer to each of these, thus becomes imperative if you, as an entrepreneur intend to address the fast-changing needs of today's Indian Consumer.

Multiple income households
Exposure to international lifestyles and media
Easier Financial Credit
Upbeat Economy

These are some factors which have given consumer aspirations and consumption a real high! Now let's see how are these driving this new breed of consumers to dive into the ever-evolving world of the web.

Latest consumer studies reveal that people today buy more clothes than computer hardware on net, demonstrating that customers have reached a new level of comfort buying merchandise over the web.

Internet is increasingly competing with other media as it is now drawing away more and more of consumer's time otherwise taken by other media.

Growing broadband penetration has made access to richer sites, easier and more efficient.

The trend of user-generated content is increasingly taking control over the traditional media. From dwelling in a world where few people rule our thought process, we are now moving towards collective wisdom of the crowds. Thus social networking is one of the fastest growing categories, which is indeed having many interesting implications on the potential (online) consumers as well.

People have discovered the convenience of buying and selling shares, paying bills, booking travel online, even connecting with their friends through video calls to ease their efforts and save time too.

Businesses on net going local, i.e. their strategy to address the unmet needs of their local consumers, have greatly boosted the buying spirit of the small-town shopper as well.

With the Internet spreading its wings by the day, Indian entrepreneurs can highly benefit from establishing their presence online.

For all those who think that luring offline shoppers is tougher, it is time to re-think. Online shoppers are smarter as their knowledge banks are richer and approach more progressive.

His shopping basket consists primarily consists of electronic gadgets, travel booking followed by accessories and apparel.

He is always in search of a one-stop destination which can answer all his buying needs.

Most shoppers (65%) find debit cards more comfortable followed by credit cards (35%).

They make maximum purchases during discounts and combo deal offers.

And customers in every city spell a different story of demand. Mumbai leads in all categories except jewelry which tops the Delhi purchases. Kolkata scores highest on music sales.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is community-based shopping changing the online buying behavior?

What if a giant like Google tells you to buy an LG flat screen TV instead of Samsung? What if your friends on networking sites like Orkut and Myspace advise you on buying a particular product only because they own it? Will the 'Google' tag or your Orkut friends' circle be convincing enough to change your buying behavior? Not really, right?

To change an online consumer's buying behavior, over a period of time, it will need the combined force of the data-crunching ability of Google, coupled with the networking ability of the community portals. Today, community-based shopping is the latest trend in the e-retail industry. The incorporation of user communities has added a 'social' touch to e-shopping. Now, there is a bunch of fellow shoppers, sharing your curiosity and interest, eager to help you in making a good purchase decision.

Its concept depends on the addition of a little bit of social side to our online shopping experience. Once you're on a shopping portal, the confusion in product comparison due to the variety available, can be dealt at a more human level. It also provides a platform for the retailers, industry experts and the common e-shoppers to reach the consumers and place their reviews and opinion on the e-shopping communities respectively.

The word-of-mouth marketing is also a popular way of brand promotion. But, the community-based shopping portals use it in a more structured and easily accessible format for influencing the purchase decision. They help in building a loyal customer base with increased number of repeat customers.

All in all, e-communities are a great asset in the hands of the retail industry in reaching a wide consumer audience and filling up the social void created by the online experience.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why are Indians apprehensive to online shopping?

The Internet provides a progressive dimension to most of the industries on global platform. The retail industry has also benefited from its online version which has resulted in the growth and expansion of the sector worldwide.

In India, e-commerce has been on a slow track in comparison to other parts of the world. There has been a visible growth in the e-retail sector yet the industry is being seen in its incipient stage. Earlier, the reasons cited for the weak response towards online shopping was blamed on the lack of Internet facilities and inadequate online transaction facilities available in the market.

Since then, there has been technological boom in India. Now, the Internet is easily accessible to urban India and even rural pockets are getting Internet accessibility at select places. Growth in the credit card industry and other online transaction methods has also been a boon for e-shopping. Despite the recent developments, response to online trading and transaction has been feeble in this part of the world.

Some of the reasons which potentially work against the industry in India include:

- Bargaining is not possible
- Product trial is generally unavailable
- Insecurity surrounding the credibility of a shopping portal
- Delays in product delivery
- Lack in the variety of products
- Social networking is restricted
- Preference to real-time shopping for get-togethers

The above mentioned reasons clearly indicate that apart from online activities like travel ticket booking and online broking, e-commerce still has a long way to go before earning the faith of the consumers. More innovative and tangible options are still awaited before the shopaholic appetite of the quintessential Indian is satisfied by these virtual stores.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Customer Feedback matters in E-retailing!

The success of a communication process is directly proportional to the amount and nature of feedback generated from the target audience. Online retailing is a similar process, targeted at the online consumers to persuade and influence their buying behavior.

Customer feedback is the essence of the e-retail industry. Any business, online or offline, is targeted at existing as well as potential customers. Therefore, their opinion and suggestions need consideration and an outlet as well. It is not only vital in providing customer satisfaction but also improves the company's performance manifold.

There are various modes employed by the online retailers to facilitate the generation of a valuable customer feedback. Questionnaires, emails and online surveys are some of the popular means to generate customer feedback about their products and services. Further, customer care services are also crucial in feedback generation through tools such as live text/video chat.

Why do we need Customer feedback?

- Identifies weak areas in operations and poor performing products and services
- Helps in fulfilling consumer demands
- Improves the product quality
- Guides and assists in making positive changes in the performance output
- Reduces the number of dissatisfied consumers
- Increases customer loyalty to establish long-term relationships

Therefore, a centralized and integrated customer feedback management can develop a loyal customer base for an online business and is beneficial in a long run. It also stands as the basic difference between repeat business and a lost consumer.