Online selling can be an overwhelming business for a newcomer. The online retail industry is in full bloom, with millions of sellers already operating across thousands of platforms, both big and small. India is one of the fastest growing markets for online sales, and the eyes of some of the top players in ecommerce are on the industry. While giants like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal seem to be battling it out in terms of competition, predictions of Alibaba entering the fray can be seen as a sign of exciting times ahead for the Indian online sales and services market.

A new online seller in such a bustling market has to go through some overwhelming experiences. Online sales require constant vigilance in terms of a lot of parameters. You need to take care of inventory, manage deliveries and expand your customer base while constantly establishing a brand value. Not to mention the backend jobs like maintaining relationships with suppliers, wholesalers and VCs. A badly organised online retail business can soon tumble into a mess.

There are some tried and tested measures that can be taken to prevent such a thing from happening to a new online seller’s business. These are some basic rules of thumb that make a difference between someone being a seller on auction sites like eBay and Quickr to being a professional online retailer. Let us take a look.

Separate Bank Account

The first step to making any online retail venture truly autonomous is making a separate bank account for it. This is very important in the growing stages of the company as a means to demarcate the territory between personal and business. But more importantly, it is crucial in terms of a legal standpoint that the business has its separate bank account.

Never go Out of Stock

Intelligent inventory management means finding the point of balance between overstocking and finding yourself in an out-of-stock situation. The former leads to bottlenecks that create wastage of money and resources while the latter can look really bad for your business. The trick is to demarcate a reserve amount of stock that can lie in the warehouse that you can account for. Getting your ordering cycle right can take some time, but it all depends upon how flexible you keep it. Using a multi-channel inventory management tool like Browntape can be really helpful to new sellers at this point. This is because it provides a bird’s eye view of the flow of inventory from the warehouse to the customer.

Calculate Your Expectations

This one is especially important for new online sellers. It may so happen that you might hit your first hundred or thousand sales quite fast, and then experience a lull in the market. It is important at such a stage to have a realistic projection of your business to compare your situation with in the future. Sometimes, a lull can be due to extraneous reasons affecting a certain section or the whole of the market. Other times, it can be due to an internal bottleneck within the organisation. You should consider both these perspectives before making a prediction about the future of the business.

Find the Right Investments

You can’t grow your business without investing further. The key is to find the right places to invest in. It would be surprising to you where your next investment opportunity might come from. We also don’t need to think about investments in terms of only the financial ones. Finding the right supplier or a Venture Capitalist, or even the right team, can be great assets to your company. It is important then to think about all the decisions that you make in terms of investments – be it hiring or firing an employee or striking a deal with a courier company. Finding the right investments then becomes crucial for your company’s momentum.

Over-Analysis is a Thing

It really is. Analysis paralysis is the state of over-analyzing a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, or at least, is not taken fast enough. This is most commonly exemplified in sports, where an athlete who spends too much time in making a decision more often than not ends up not doing anything at all. But this tendency supersedes the realm of sports. It can be seen in all walks of life. The key is to know when to analyze and when to stop. Online retail has always been a data driven industry. The market has been closely and extensively studied from different perspectives. But it is important to recognize the value of the act of decisionmaking rather than over-analyzing a particular problem and doing nothing.

Establish a Network

The true power of the internet lies in connecting people. While this is manifested in one way through online retail which connects buyers and sellers, it is just one example of the possibilities that internet provides us. Being an active member of certain seller’s forums can really help you grow in the business. Many established marketplace channels have their own seller’s forums like Seller Central for Amazon. There is also AIOVA or All India Online Vendors Association, which is an active place for sellers to connect and share experiences. Being involved in such forums will only further your understanding of how the industry works.

These were a few rules of thumb for new online sellers. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading ecommerce experts, and we are always happy to help!

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