E Commerce and Retail Business Strategies

E Commerce is growing day by day in both B-to-B and B-to-C context. Retailing industry including Fashion Retail and Grocery retailing have caught on to the bandwagon and have begun to offer E trading or Online Shopping. In the early 1990s we saw Companies setting up websites with very little understanding of E Commerce and Consumer behaviour. E commerce as a model is totally different from the traditional shopping in all respect. All Companies have fast realised the need to have E commerce strategy separately but as a part of overall Retail Strategy.

Retail Strategy involves planning for the business growth keeping in view the current market trends, opportunities as well as threats and building a strategic plan that helps the Company deal with all these external factors and stay on course to reach its goals. Further the Retail business strategy is concerned with identifying the markets to be in, building the product portfolio and band width coupled with brand positioning and the various elements of brand visibility and in store promotions etc. Business operations are more or less standard and proven models that are adapted as best practices.

However when it comes to defining an E Commerce strategy for the business, the dynamics of the various elements contributing to the business are totally different. The one factor that remains common is the focus on Customer. While in the physical| traditional selling method, there exists a physical experience from the Customer’s end and hence it is easier to build Customer relationship and engage the Customer, E Commerce platform has got to devise methods to reach out to the virtual Customer on One to One basis and build the relationship. The E commerce generally provides more product information and technical details to the Customers than provided through the Traditional Sales channel. E Commerce has got to define the sales transaction, third party payment and financial transaction as well as Customer service processes. As compared to traditional |physical channel sales, all these processes are new and have to be well defined and proven.

One important question that the Companies have got to answer is to figure out ‘How Do We Differ from Competition’ or have an edge over Competition in the E commerce market. One of the key differentiators has been the system security and the third party billing desk partners used by the Companies. Wherever Companies have partnered with well known and reputed bankers and billing desk service companies providing safe and secure transactions, the customer confidence in dealing with such Company is enhanced. Secondly companies that provide clear processes outlining the delivery commitments, Online Customer service coupled with publicized policy of customer returns and warranty management are successful in building loyal customer base. Loyalty programs and product promotion offers.

Pricing of products is another area that is required to be addressed through the E Commerce strategy. While the Selling and operational costs are higher in traditional sales model, the E commerce or Virtual Sales costs are negligible. There exists a potential to price products attractively and engage the Customer to buy in bulk.

E commerce strategies and plans would be different in case of Retail Companies engaged purely in internet selling to the already established Retail Companies offering Online shopping along with traditional shopping. Similarly it is also seen that selling intangibles and technical products is easier through the E Commerce platform than other products that needs some interaction with salesman as well as product sampling etc. Accordingly the product offering on the E Commerce platform may have to be decided by the Company as a part of its strategy plan.

The fact that traditional shopping experience as well as back end operations are totally different from the virtual and instantaneous Online shopping, the Companies have got to come up with separate sales strategy for both traditional sales channel as well as electronic commerce trading channel.


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