Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Indian online stores getting hooked to e-community culture

More often than not, it's being argued that online shopping is convenient but yet an isolated activity. This format of easy-to-order-easy-to-deliver has been catching up with the tech-savvy buyers but it has always been looked upon as option out of necessity and not pleasure. In order to break this monotony, the concept of e-socializing was introduced to the online buying experience.

Apart from a few established online stores, most of new entrants and the upcoming e-retail ventures are banking heavily on the rising popularity of social networking within the online shopping domain. There are a number of major international e-stores who initiated the coupling of online shopping with social networking. Online giants like e-bay started their buyers' “Community” which was then followed by arch-rival Amazon's popular “Daily Blog” section.

The e-community trend has now moved-in to the Indian shopping terrain as well. Most of the upcoming Indian online stores and the Indian counterparts of the already established inter-nation e-retail brands are reaping in the benefits of shoppers' community and the latest Web 2.0 technology to create a loyal consumer base out of their readily generated user traffic on the sites.

Some of the popular community-based Indian shopping portals for your reference include:

- ebay India:
The global retail giant's Indian venture has a shoppers' community dedicated to registered users willing to chat, discuss, ask questions, leave messages and even leave feedback for the portal.

- Retailsdirect:
This site is arguable India's first interactive store ever. If you have anything to share, discuss, ask or answer on any issue/subject including shopping, this site has it. It also has video conferencing, (or Video-Voice Text-Chat facility, as they term it) and is based on Web 2.0 technology.

- Hindustanlink:
A site where you can do a lot more than shopping, including activities like Forum discussions, Blogging and Questions-Answers section as well.

All in all, Indian shopping portals need to take a leaf out of their international counterparts' online strategies. After the emergence and expansion of global shopping portals like eBay, Kaboodle, Zebo etc., there many e-stores of Indian origin which need to incorporate the concept of social networking to add that 'zing' lacking in them. Until then, the aforesaid e-stores are there to bring in your friends and favorite brands while you choose to laze around at home!!! (no offense intended)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't look further to buy your favorite cellphone!

This blog is dedicated to the all the cell phone lovers and to the readers who are eager to buy one in the near future, whether it be a swanky Nokia cellphone or an affordable and efficient Spice mobile handset. You will get all the information right here, friends!

With the ever-increasing consumer demand of cell phones coupled with the stupendous rise in the online retail industry in India, its selection and purchase has shifted to the online domain greatly.

Most of the e-commerce websites in India are eying the mobile industry and providing a wide assortment to the consumers through the many shopping portals cluttering the online retail scene.

Indian e-commerce websites are well-versed with the immense popularity of cellphones- both the pocket-friendly ones as well as their more expensive and lavish brethren. The main advantae of shopping for your fav cellphone online is the discounted prices that are available. Since these dealers are basically dealing in bulk, they act as virtual wholesalers to the prospective customer.

While a majority would either sell common and reliable market leaders like Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson etc., some others also include brands that are market entrants such as the likes of Spice, Fly etc. in order to cash in on the first mover advantage for unexplored territories.

Following is a brief analysis of the mobile section on some of the popular Indian e-commerce sites:

- Futurebazaar: Special gifts and offers, featured mobile sections, affordable mobiles in the budget mobile section and also lists the top 5 mobiles for its users.

- Indiaplaza: Brands – From the most famous to the lesser known brands are featured here. Combo offers with accessories and listing of the latest mobile phones. Lists the top seller phones along with the latest mobiles launched in the market.

- Retailsdirect: An online platform-cum-shopping portal where users can discuss among themselves before and after purchasing a product. From the cheapest to the most expensive handsets, available at discounted prices.

- Storeguru: It features 'hot deals' on the branded products with discounts and special offers. The only drawback is that very few brands are listed in the mobile section.

The aforesaid is a clear indication of the amount of stress which is being laid on the mobile industry and its usage in the targeting of the diverse consumer section through the wide assortment available at almost all the e-stores. Now, it's up to you to decide which special offer or deal suits you best to buy your favorite mobile handset at the most affordable price from the comfort of your home itself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why not to shop at the malls again!!

Before I start off with my blog, I would like to ask you as to when was the last time you went shopping to your nearest shopping mall? A week ago, a month back, and some would probably say that they have these virtual stores to shop for them and deliver goods like a trained pet, right? Hence, the question arises that with so much that an online store has to offer, do we really need shopping malls at all?

As the famous saying goes, “There is nothing permanent in this world except change”, it can be easily applied to the ever-changing trends in the retail industry. The whole 'sale and purchase' idea got a new meaning with the advent of online version of shopping. Today, it would not be advisable for any educated online shopper to hop back to shopping at the malls.

The big players in the online retail scene in India are trying every trick in their bags to convert online users into traffic and then converting it into visitors, then into buyers and finally, into a loyal consumer base. For this, the focus has shifted from merely providing products online to social communities and special offers which can only be availed at these virtual stores.

With the prospects of becoming a long-term successful industry, major e-stores like Indiamart, Futurebazaar, Retailsdirect and Indiaplaza are relying heavily on the online retail boom. They are leaving no stone unturned in accelerating the conversion rate of its user traffic. The most bankable factor for drawing in consumers from the offline domain is the 'convenience' factor of online shopping.

The most effective strategies of the major Indian e-stores are as follows:

- Indiamart:
It is a common platform for the online buyers and sellers, i.e., a B2B marketplace.
Highlights – Upcoming trade shows, divergent industry updates, international trade leads, tender notice via emails etc.

- Futurebazaar:
The finest brands online, user-friendly and simple design.
Highlights – Clearance sales, buying in bulk offers

- Retailsdirect:
India's first interactive store with a Video-Voice-Text-Chat facility.
Highlights- Group Bargains (Savings of upto 33% on products by creating groups to bargain), Cafe Retail (Earn redeemable RD coins, upload videos and photos)

- Indiaplaza:
US based shopping portal meant for trading and shipping to India and worldwide.
Highlights – Airtel gift certificates, Gifts to India.

The above strategies are a clear indication that the trend of online shopping is not merely restricted to the selection and buying process. One can use the wide reach and accessibility of the internet and various social media tools to develop interest and loyalty among the customers. So the next time you feel like shopping, chuck out shopping at the over-crowded malls and rather catch up with friends online and relax while you shop for your favourite products.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It is NOT so difficult to set up your own e-commerce website

If you think setting up an online store is a difficult task and that you have no patience or time for it, then you can think again! All you ever wanted to know about e-commerce is right here but let us first discuss whether online retail is necessary at all for your business.

Whether it is a small-time retailer or a major retail business owner, online presence is vital to give the right direction to any business of any size. In order to reach a wider audience composition, online media and its marketing techniques are inevitable for the brick and motor retailers as well.

In a recent study conducted by Forrester Research, online retail sales are estimated to reach $204 billion this year which a 17% increase over 2007. This is a clear indication that online retail is growing considerably every year, despite heavy competition from the sagging economy. Therefore, in order to provide free-shipping deals to save time and avoid burning gas and also add competitive edge to a small or medium-sized business, one needs to be online and visibly 'heard' and 'visited'.
Here are some of quick and easy steps of setting up an efficient e-commerce websites. Get started:

- Switch from dial-up to broadband for your personal connection: It greatly saves time and instant uploading of pictures, emailing, processing sales, etc can be done. Getting a server is always on the cards in case you really want to hit big time right from the start with an online sales & marketing team.

- Domain name registration is not a bad idea: You can register one even if you are in no immediate hurry to use it. This also helps in gaining credibility through a business specific email address.

- Use local business directories: Get listed in the major online local business directories of the likes of Yelp!, CitySearch, Yahoo Local, Google Local, MSN Live etc.

- Go slow and steady: Liquidating your services and products is helpful in the long run. It helps in emptying your piled up stock. This will help you in experiencing and learning the nuances of online selling before taking the final plunge.

- Current inventory system is also handy: Don't start off with a flashy inventory system right from the word 'go'. One can also use its existing inventory system in the initial stages. Then in the longer run, an upgraded POS can be used to handle your e-commerce sales more efficiently.

- Stick to your loyal employees: Being in the retail sector, one is bound to have their own workforce who can later take over the data entry work and support in your online sales endeavor.

The aforesaid steps play a key role in developing a profitable online presence and brand management of a product or a business. In the future, if you plan to give a major push to your business, opt for the online domain, as constructing an e-commerce website is not that difficult after all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

E-commerce Sites Ensuring Secure Shopping Experience

With the ever-sinking economy, retail, especially online retail, is the only industry on its upward trail. The e-commerce sector has been on an ascending curve but the growth has been slow in comparison than the expected trend. But why could online retail be lagging behind the online marketeers' expectations? There is only one word answer to this, INSECURITY.

One of the biggest drawbacks of shopping with the online medium is the amount of risk involved in the money transaction process. There are occasions where one can get his identity or credit card information stolen online itself. How? This could simply be done through hackers or someone who is involved wit h the inner workings of the customer payment section of the e-commerce websites as they have open accessibility to customer account details and related databases.

What is worse in this case is that you might actually land a victim of cyber crime in a bid to save some time, fuel and money. Today, e-commerce websites are trying to carefully maintain and sustain their consumer-base through their own online security strategies, realizing customer aloofness due to the occurrence of such scams in the past. Particularly in India, more than the inaccessibility of the internet at most places, it is the 'trust' factor keeps buyers off the shopping portals.

To combat this factor, major shopping portals like Indiamart, Futurebazaar, Retailsdirect and Indiaplaza have come up with special security strategies and safer online transaction methods to protect personal information of their consumers.

Some of the valuable methods employed by these virtual stores for protecting user account information include:

- Usage of softwares which enable changing one's credit card number, name, bank account, login information, and email ID
- Protection of the customer email ID against fraud, spam, viruses, and phishing (defrauding online account and financial information) is being ensured
- Usage of online accounts like Paypal which come loaded with a bunch of features ensuring one-time entry of your credit card numbers to avoid hacking etc.
- Provision of using e-generated credit card umbers instead of actual credit card numbers on some e-commerce websites
- Most shopping portals also use secure web servers to avoid peeping third parties
SSL certification and contact details are mentioned to instill trust in the consumers' mind

Overall, the online medium is a convenient way of buying you-name-it-and-you have-it items on the Internet. But the convenience and easy access has resulted in a number of loopholes in the inter-connected system exploited by cyber criminals. Therefore, ensuring a secure online store is of utmost importance. The security of a medium can only lead to its growth and expansion even in the remotest of areas.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Time to improvise on your e-commerce sites

Time to improvise on your e-commerce sites

Is your online shopping portal lacking a good influx of traffic? Are you wondering how to pool in reader-base to your e-commerce site? If your answer to all these questions is yes, then it's high time for you to re-consider some online sales' strategies and work towards adding zing into them.

For many of the online retailers who are willing to revamp the look and structure of their portals along with other minute and major details, here is some sound advice on this issue. Through this blog, I wish to highlight some of the tips to serve the readers satisfactorily enough. Some of the key tips to remember for running a successful e-commerce website include:

- Detailed product information is the key
- Should be high up there in the search listings
- Promote the website link at every possible networking channel and other possible medium
- Added testimonials for authentications on the various merchants available with the site
- Offer free shipping facility to the consumers
- Add relevant landing pages for reference and assistance
- Use of multiple images is always helpful and attention retaining
- Site visitors should have access to user ratings and reviews

E-commerce is one of the most flourishing businesses both for the retail industry as well as the online domain in India. Due to the growing access to the Internet and increasing demand of variety and affordable prices, it has become a major tool in the hands of the retailers. And lastly, it's a known fact that a strong online presence is a deciding factor for the success and reach of a retailer across a large domestic section and even all around the globe.