How COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Marketing Efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us face-to-face with unprecedented times, where businesses struggle to keep the damage to the minimum. Since most countries have been under lockdown for the last few months, the impact of the restrictions on daily activities can be seen on almost all businesses and markets.

While the crisis has changed the business landscape, all is not lost. With these disruptions come opportunities for growth and overcoming challenges. With the right mindset and resources, you can navigate your way through these times in order to identify your customers’ needs, wants and expectations.

Should I continue my marketing efforts?

In times like these, the most impacted business is that of non essentials such as apparels, tech, beauty, etc. The greatest challenge is foreseeing how customer wants, needs, expectations and purchasing decisions will evolve. 

Keeping this in mind, businesses often have the question whether or not they should continue with their marketing methods at all. This question is only obvious since they want to optimize their costs of running the business to sustain during this period. And while making the cuts in the costs, the first thing to be sacrificed is more often than not, the marketing efforts. The thought process behind this is simple – If the buying capacity of the consumer has decreased then why burn money on advertising the goods?

Well, that approach here isn’t right. 

Abruptly stopping all your marketing efforts will cut off your relations and conversations with your customers. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more out of touch you will be with your brand followers. This will lead them to forget about your brand amidst all the engaging content provided by other brands. 

When things finally do get back on track, you will have to start from scratch.

So How Did The Pandemic Affect Brands?

As soon as the lockdown came into effect, offline stores were shut and deliveries from online stores had also come to a halt. This ultimately led to brands stopping most, if not all, of their marketing efforts since they could not deliver the products. Although this did affect sales, this also meant that the competition had lowered. Certain brands saw this as an opportunity and decided to run some of their marketing messages, just to ensure that they did not lose touch with their customers.

One more key takeaway from this sudden shift was that traffic clicks were cheaper since there wasn’t much competition in the market. Hence, for those who were continuing their advertising campaigns, this time couldn’t have been more fruitful.

Who Was At Advantage?

The lockdown had a huge impact on all traditional methods of sales and marketing but there were also certain businesses that benefited from it.

  • Brands that were delivering even during the lockdown period had an advantage by default since people had the ideology that it’s better to have products of any brand rather than not have any products at all.
  • Due to the social distancing mandate, people preferred buying online rather than going to offline stores, even if they were open for business. Thus the offline rush had found its way online. This played to the advantage of those who had established an online presence.
  • Another observation was that brands which had a prominent offline presence ultimately also had a prominent advantage online. This is due to the fact that customers trust a brand that they had been using, so that even while buying online, they do not have to worry about the product quality.
  • Brands which continued their marketing could leverage the customers of their competitors who weren’t aggressively marketing and promoting their products.

What were the downsides?

Although there were certain advantages, there were also some downsides that were seen by businesses and brands. One of the biggest adverse effects was seen in servicing after purchase since personnel movement was restricted. Not only that but deliveries also took a hit due to the limited movement of vehicles throughout the country which resulted in products being delivered within 2 weeks’ period or so instead of the previous 3-4 days period.

How do I sustain my brand in these times?

An article covered by The Economic Times outlines the concept of revenge shopping, taking the example of a luxury brand and how it recorded the biggest single-day shopping in China. Revenge shopping is the overindulgence in retail therapy by people who missed shopping during the lockdown period.

In India this trend might be witnessed in the upper middle class who have sustained their incomes and standard of living during the lockdown. Another way to recover the lost sales during the lockdown is carrying out promotional activities and sales or discount offers, which will attract customers loyal to your brand and also potential customers since everyone is looking for economical goods these days.

To summarize, the pandemic isn’t over yet. There might be a few more blind turns ahead but brands have already started planning for contingencies. Although this new economic climate has added challenges for brands, it has also opened up new avenues for growth.

If you are looking for performance marketing partner to grow your business in these uncertain times, please drop your query at que@anscommerce.com 

 

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force – Know how it will impact E-commerce platforms

Receiving the assent of the President of India, The Consumer Protection Act (2019) was published in the official gazette on August 9, 2019. This Act seeked to replace the more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said this new Act will empower consumers and help them protect their rights. As this new Act came into effect on July 20, 2020, here are the key highlights that you need to know.

The Act covers e-commerce platforms
Widening the definition of ‘consumer’, the definition now includes any person who buys any goods, whether through offline or online transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing. It also includes all models of e-commerce, including marketplace and inventory models of e-commerce. The earlier Act did not specifically include e-commerce transactions, and this gap has been addressed by the New Act.

E-filing of complaints
Unlike the current practice of filing complaints at the place of purchase or where the seller has registered the office address, the New Act provides flexibility to the consumers wherein they can file complaints electronically and for hearing and/or examining parties through video-conferencing.

Product Liability & Penal Consequences –
The New Act has introduced the concept of product liability and brings within its scope, the product manufacturer, product service provider and product seller, for any claim for compensation. The term ‘product seller’ would include e-commerce platforms as well. The defense that e-commerce platforms merely act as ‘platforms’ or ‘aggregators’ will not be accepted.

  • Penalties for misleading advertisements:
    In case of a false or misleading advertisement, the CCPA may impose a penalty of up to INR 1,000,000 (Indian Rupees One Million) on a manufacturer or an endorser and may also sentence them to imprisonment for up to 2 years. The liability of the false claims of an advertisement has also been extended to the endorser, since there have been cases where consumers fell prey to false advertising under the influence of celebrities acting as brand ambassadors.
  • E-commerce Rules:
    According to the New Act, e-commerce platforms are required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc. including country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
    Kartify, powered by ANS Commerce, includes these functionalities, making the platform secure and trustworthy for the consumer to use.
  • Consumer complaints on e-commerce platforms:
    E-commerce platforms are now required to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within 1 month from the date of receipt.

According to Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, the earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986a provided a single point access to justice, which was also time consuming.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 includes provisions that suit the current trend of the digital landscape, making sure the customer’s hassles are substantially reduced. The Act provides consumers with protection not only from traditional retailers but also e-commerce platforms where most brands have grown to start selling their products and services. In order to do so, this act imposes more accountability from e-commerce platforms, manufacturers, retailers and endorsers and can impose penalties on any of these parties. Moreover, there have also been new provisions added which aim to speed the process of clearing any grievances of the consumer by introducing online methods of filing complaints while also mandating that e-commerce websites address these complaints within a 48-hour window and resolve matters within 30 days of the complaint being registered.

While it would take time to adjust to the new provisions made by this Act, it will certainly result in consumer rights being more protected and a speedier method of resolving consumer disputes in the country.

5 Reasons Why You Must Have an Online Brand Store

In a digitally driven world, businesses are constantly looking for ways to make their online presence more prominent. Since there have been many options for e-commerce platforms in recent years, the most common question a brand has is whether to set up their own online brand store or sell on marketplaces. While marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra and Flipkart are popular these days, the possibility of your product being lost in the several hundred similar options is too high. Hence, in order to make sure that the customer recognizes your brand identity and its quality products, it is imperative that you must build your own brand ecommerce website.

It is estimated that brandstore can contribute to ~25-30% of overall retail e-commerce in India by 2026. Rise of DTCs and focus from established brands is a testament to online brandstore becoming core to retail strategy.

What are the advantages of building a brand store?

First and foremost, when you sell on a marketplace, the sole competition you have with other brands is on the basis of price. Marketplaces do not give many options for brands to show value against the 100 other brands offering a similar product.

Here are some key advantages of having your own ecommerce website:

Control brand experience:
You’re able to control everything on the site; from positioning to merchandising. You have a number of pre-built templates to choose from, complete flexibility over design, mobile-optimized interface, and a much more personal connection with your customers. Also, you get to control the pricing and authenticity of your products. This builds trust in buyers and familiarizes them with your brand and your ecosystem. Not only this, it establishes uniformity and a seamless transfer between your offline and online store.

Serve your customers directly:
Having your own website provides a personalized shopping experience to your customers, which ultimately reinforces your brand image. This allows you to have exclusive catalogs, discounts and content along with niche products according to their preferences. A personalized experience curated by the brand will reassure the customer about the authenticity and quality of the products and also make them trust the safety of the website.

Cross-sell and upsell your products:
You can boost your sales by adding a cross-sell option for customers, often seen as ‘similar products’ or ‘customers also bought’ options during the process of purchasing products. While in upselling, it is recommended that the customer buys a better, and hence more expensive, product. This is enabled when you know your customers’ purchasing preferences and have their data in order to tailor the suggestions as per their wants and needs.

Increased profit margins:
Your own brand’s e-commerce website will allow you to have more control over your online revenue. And since the sales will be on your own website, you will not have to share your profits with anyone except for ~2% gateway payment cut. Apart from that, unlike online marketplaces, you don’t need to pay any transaction or listing fees when you are using your own website. Additionally, you can run offers and deals as per your will and you won’t be penalized for a delay in delivery for some unforeseen circumstances.

Leverage customer data:
Since you will build your own customer database, their purchase patterns and key demographic information will help you improve targeting and personalization, along with aiding in product development and improving user flow. Adding to that, a leading fashion marketplace has its private labels which account for more than 25% of its business. Most of the time, marketplaces use the consumer data of other brands to improve their own private labels. Moreover, it is very difficult to formulate marketing actions such as sales promotion, discounts, abandoned shopping cart recovery, etc. for your own brand without customer insights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While marketplaces do provide the consumers with ease of shopping, if you are looking to position your brand and build a loyal customer base, having your own e-commerce website is more reliable. With the correct support team and resources, it can definitely go a long way in generating sales and ample revenue over time.

If you are looking for an expert e-commerce team to listen to your business needs and build a personalized website that reflects your brand identity, then get in touch with us at que@anscommerce.com

Magento 1 EOL – an opportunity for something better

Magento 1 EOL update

Magento commerce, in September 2016, had officially announced that all versions of Magento 1 would reach end-of-life (EOL) by June 2020. This had left about a thousand retailers in India, who were operating on the system, in confusion and worry as they couldn’t grasp what this meant for their business. The e-commerce platform urged its clients to move to the updated Magento 2, a process that might involve major financial and logistical exercise in terms of proper migration planning and also determining the necessary extensions. A migration process like that may take upto 6 months or sometimes even a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasons for migrating to other platforms

  • Increased risk of data breach:
    While your website will continue to run, it will be exposed to security breaches. This may cause data breaches and ultimately disrupt a smooth user experience as well as be the cause of users losing their trust in the website’s security. The damage could mean the loss of customers.
  • Failing to comply with PCI DSS global standards:
    Apart from that, according to Adyen, a Dutch payment company, you may not be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). With respect to the same, they emphasize that failing to migrate off a Magento 1 ecommerce website by June 2020 will cause merchants to fall out of PCI DSS compliance. This is because you will no longer be able to comply with ‘Requirement 6’, stating that you “develop and maintain secure systems and applications by installing applicable vendor-supplied security patches”. This means that in an event of a breach, the merchant will no longer meet the criteria for payment forensic investigation. Instead, they will be expected to hire an external PCI investigator which will be time-consuming and very expensive to carry out the full investigation.

These reasons in themselves are enough to make any retailer fear for the damage that their website and reputation could sustain.

Why would migrating to Magento 2 be a hassle?

  • Since the previous version has been declared EOL, the majority of developers who contribute to the ever-growing Magento Marketplace will eventually stop releasing Magento 1 extensions and themes. This leaves the merchant/retailer in a position where they’d have to audit, maintain and fix any third-party extensions and themes – which isn’t a viable option for most.
  • Needless to say, the entire process is not only expensive and time-consuming but also requires a client to go out of their way in order to ensure all technical gears are running in the right way. The hassles are quite cumbersome.
  • Although Magento has encouraged the users of the previous version to migrate to their newest update (Magento 2), users have encountered many difficulties with the data migration as well as finding relevant modules that covered their previously existing modules. They also claimed that they needed to do most of the custom development from scratch, a tiresome and time consuming process.
  • One of the pitfalls users ran across when making a move to Magento 2 is the ‘bad data’ issues. This refers to the custom data added manually that is not validated (in both M1 & M2); or M1 data that is not valid in accordance with M2 rules.
  • Another aspect of this migration is that users generally encounter double the quoted expenses plus the additional expenses of redevelopment and extension upgrades.

Are there any options more suited for your needs instead of Magento 2?

If you don’t want to go through the long cumbersome process of migrating to Magento 2, you can also consider other e-commerce platforms such as Kartify from ANS Commerce for a better experience where your time and efforts will be invested in such a way that you, as a consumer, wouldn’t have to worry about updates that might impact the security of your website. This time could be used in rethinking the needs of your consumers in terms of their expectations from your website as well as the overall user experience you would want them to experience.

Introducing Kartify

ANS Commerce offers you a fully customizable, integration-ready proprietary platform – Kartify. This e-commerce platform allows store design and management across six domains; storefront designs, integration, funnel improvement, add catalogue/products, store management and reporting and analytics. The main aim of this platform is to streamline not only the consumer experience but also the retailer’s experience in crafting their store for the ultimate one-stop shopping experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With features such as review module, blog module, static pages for FAQs and a store locator, Kartify is a unique e-commerce platform that meets the needs and standards of your brand. It offers the client a completely customizable and managed e-commerce solution for brands to scale brandstore and leverage marketplaces. The platform is compatible with mobile response and offers design support to the client.

ANS Commerce also ensures complete audit of the website before migration which enables a smooth transition from Magento to Kartify without any hassle of data loss or customization problems. ANS Commerce, with its exceptional performance, has already successfully migrated multiple websites including a leading fashion brand in India, from Magento to Kartify within a short span of time.

What makes Kartify exceptional?

With hand-held onboarding support, Kartify is an integration-ready platform built to suit the needs of the brand and also the expectations of the end consumer. It is an omni-friendly ecommerce experience integrated with leading omni-channel partners, enabling fulfilment from offline shop to online orders.

Following are various features offered under different domains across the platform:

  • Add catalogue/products:
  • With unlimited SKUs support and no restrictions on variants, Kartify offers high resolution images and smart zoom for your products. Adding to that, the platform offers multi-level product categorisation, bulk upload and update logs, richer product attributes and infinity scroll.

  • Store Management:
  • Online stores need seamless payment processes to ensure that customers do not have to worry about their transaction. Kartify has provisions for payment gateway and payment method setup which allows for COD, wallets and UPI as well. The platform also offers payment with coupons, for customer engagement and sales. In order to resolve conflicts that may be encountered by the customers, the brand can also create customer support topics and resolve CRM tickets.

  • Reporting and Analytics: (standard & custom)
  • In order to track the progress of a particular brand and/or product, Kartify also enables the marketers to view and analyse orders, returns, products and customers. Furthermore, it also provides tools to view and analyse marketing funnels, trends and promotions. The reports from the analytics can be delivered right in your inbox or phone.

  • Funnel Improvement:
  • Additional tools to create, customize and manage coupons as well as discount settings and gift cards customizations are one of the many features that the brand can use to increase traffic on their website. For promotional offers, they can also manage affiliates and create URLs for tracking campaigns. Apart from that, Google Base Mapping and easy on-page SEO management tool will enable the brand to engage with potential customers over the internet.

    The above mentioned features and many more make Kartify a world-class proprietary tech built with love. The design and fundamental goal behind Kartify is to provide a hands-on experience to the brand as well as their end consumers. The platform ensures paramount security of data and systems with its commitment to provide a hassle-free and tailored solution to the brand.

    For any questions, drop an email to que@anscommerce.com

    How to improve your marketplace sales?

    A perspective by ANS Commerce in SARAL 2020  – India’s biggest virtual e-commerce summit organized by Unicommerce

    Unicommerce successfully organized SARAL 2020, India’s first-ever virtual mega e-commerce summit on 30th May 2020. The summit brought together thousands of e-commerce sellers, brands, retailers, SME’s, and enterprises on a single platform to discuss on the theme ‘How can eCommerce Selling be Simplified’. The Industry leaders shared their thoughts, ideas, and plans to enable businesses around the country to understand and find solutions to their challenges in a post-COVID-19 world.

    Saral2020 Partnership

    One of the key sessions was conducted by Amit Monga, Co-founder, ANS Commerce, on ‘Optimizing e-commerce presence through marketplace and carts’. He talked about marketplace scaling and how it is vital for a new brand or any brand on its e-commerce journey to get the marketplace model right and identify core marketplaces, and long-tail marketplaces that suit a brand’s product categories.

    Getting your marketplace model right

    Here’re a few highlights from his session:

    • In-source vs out-source: A brand needs to choose whether it wants to do its e-commerce operations in-house or outsource it to a specialist. It’s a fine balance between promoter time/ cost and speed.
    • Horses for the courses:  Many factors such as model complexities (B2B2C, B2C, Dropship), categories, SLA levels for each marketplace, and returns management to ensure healthy sellable inventory must be kept in mind to achieve growth targets. 
    • Amazon Easyship vs FBA: Amazon is a marketplace that has various models for any brand aiming to become a seller and how a new brand must consider what product category it is in, how it should ship its products out to the end customer, and how it should manage inventory. For instance, a new fashion brand that is just starting out should preferably choose Easyship over Amazon FBA as a marketplace as it has the flexibility to ship products to the end customers from its premises without having to worry about splitting and replicating the inventory with Amazon warehouses and can also naturally progress to Sellerflex once the brand has scaled up.
    Marketplaces: Basic Hygiene

    After identifying the right marketplace model, managing these four important hygiene factors is the game-changer in any market:

    1. Catalog management is essential to optimize content such as titles, keywords, enhanced A+ content, and product descriptions as these are critical for higher ranking, better conversions, and customer experience. Utilizing the assets available in the marketplace, such as having a brandstore and performing A/B testing with the brandstore can help achieve these objectives. 
    2. Identifying the right assortment that works for which market and observing the right trends and competition benchmarking can help you set achievable goals. To forecast future growth planning, a brand needs to identify the strength of the market in terms of pricing, the level of assortment in a category, and the right inventory planning. 
    3. Payment and inventory reconciliation with the help of business analytics is essential to grow at a sustainable and profitable rate. Every brand should recognize and understand the significant cost heads for each marketplace. To ensure that a brand grows sustainably, it must make full use of the information available in analytical reports and coordinate with the category teams to curate and execute marketing plans. 
    4. Reputation management or reviews from end customers on product, seller, or service are important. One should monitor the reviews and ratings to improve the quality of products, services, and pricing.

    Now it’s the time to scale

    Leveraging each marketplace to scale your business

    Once the right model is identified and basic hygiene is taken care of, one must have insights on how to leverage the strength of a marketplace to drive visibility and growth of business and how a business must plan its resources well to take advantage of each of these marketplace levers. For example, Amazon has a marketing platform known as Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), which the brands can use to drive CPC driven campaigns, product display ads, sponsored ads, or drive CPM promotions with category teams. Similarly, Flipkart also has its marketplace tools to improve visibility and ranking like product opt-ins. Other marketplaces such as Bigbasket, Nykaa, and Grofers have product sampling tools that help the brands to segment the right set of customers and reach out to the right target audience, which has become very crucial to surviving in the e-commerce space. These marketplaces also allow brands to run performance marketing campaigns on traffic driven websites such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

    ANS Commerce enables execution across 15+ marketplaces and harness marketplaces’ reach while optimizing brand’s resources. We integrate all your marketplace platforms to deliver a consistent brand experience to customers everywhere and manage inventory effectively. We process orders worth >4 Cr. on marketplaces on a monthly basis.

    Our full stack solution offers brands to create their online brandstore and jump start marketplace operations in no time. We use the understanding of strengths and insights of various marketplaces to power brandstore. Our extensive experience across product, ecommerce, retail and marketing help the brand achieve higher sales and stronger brand differentiation.

    For more information about our marketplace offerings visit our website.

    If you are a brand planning to go online then drop us an email on que@anscommerce.com

    Introducing Gift Card Module

    With recurring lockdown extensions in India due to COVID-19 cash flow of brands have been severely impacted across both offline (physical stores) and online channels. Even essential segment players are facing issues in sorting out their supply chain in a cost-efficient fashion. Online, brands are losing out significantly on sales without their regular website traffic. This has left brands scrambling to adapt their businesses and survive what could be months of uncertainty.

    Average retail business only has cash to last 19 days [source: JP Morgan]

    ANS Commerce has been in close contact with our partner brands and decided to expedite a module in our product roadmap given its increased relevance. We have enabled gift cards on Kartify – it’s an easier way to boost a brand’s sales by enabling gift card option.
    And we have decided to offer it for free to all our partner brands for next three months.*

    How a Gift Card can help?

    Customer loyalty is extremely important for any brand. Gift cards can be an ultimate driver of customer loyalty and the purchase guarantees future visits. It will give loyal customers a chance to support the businesses they love amid the crisis.

    When a user purchases a gift card, they are essentially giving your brand the promise of future business, and when you are struggling to sustain and are not sure if you can afford to pay your rent, and staff, this is the promise you need.

    Gift cards will provide businesses to both established brands and DTCs to generate income during the ongoing pandemic. Now is a particularly important time to chase diversified streams of revenue. Aside from the loyalty, additional customer spend, and customer convenience, gift cards can be part of what gets you through this.

    How to use it?

    The ease of use is an added bonus as customers receive gift cards either through email or text message. This comes up with a newly designed personalised theme. Utmost care has been taken to align the theme with the user’s sentiments and to match the overall website’s design. Brands will have an option to customise the themes, occasions, page creatives, and the denominations that customers can purchase.

    Keeping in mind the social distancing and ensuring contactless payments only prepaid payment option is available for purchasing gift cards.

    How to incentivise Gift Card sales?

    Brands’s own website and social media channels can be used to advertise the gift cards and incentivise purchases. You can reach out to your existing customers to let them know how they can help your business amidst nationwide lockdown.

    • Highlight it on your website home page
    • Leverage your social media accounts to target users based on their behaviour
    • Notify them by triggering an email or SMS with dynamic messaging
    • Maximise gift card visibility and promote it by targeting your in-market audience

    This is also a great way to leverage current low rates on digital marketing channels thus improving your ROAS.

    We are getting creative during this pandemic, testing out different ways to stay afloat. We hope gift cards will ease out brands’ financial burden to some extent.

    For any questions, reach out to your Key Account Manager or drop an email to que@anscommerce.com

    * conditions apply