The e-commerce market is not new in India, but it is growing at an unprecedented rate. You can do almost anything from the comfort of your home via your smartphones and tablets. From making bookings, to buying products, to ordering dinner, commercial life is easier compared to years past.
A majority of entrepreneurs hit bottom in their first year, and the reason is simple; it is hard to keep up when pitched against top shots in the market. It takes more than a few short months to live the luxurious life you have dreamed of. If you survive at all, count yourself lucky!
An interesting fact from ASSOCHAM-Forrester has predicted a leap in India’s e-commerce, to $103 billion in 2020 from $26 billion in 2016. India’s online retail revenue is projected to generate $100 billion for the country. Out of this figure, fashion e-commerce will contribute $35 billion. The coming years will also see a rapid growth in online apparel.
Being your own boss means being creative, or you will disappear into the shadows. The leading e-commerce giants in India such as Myntra, Flipkart, Jabong, and Snapdeal are scrabbling for a share in the booming market. They have been modifying their platforms to support image-based browsing for a greater customer experience.
Staqu Technology is on the front burner of India’s fashion e-commerce. They revolutionized the industry with ingenious recommendations and pictorial ad-campaigns. There are already over 2,000 image queries supplied by customers on Staqu’s Technology platform. Co-founder of Staqu Technology, Atul Rai, offered an exclusive interview with Entrepreneur India where he bared all on the challenges facing new age entrepreneurs, and how to tap into invisible opportunities.
Be a problem solver of real life problems
Atul Rai opined that it is almost impossible for a new business to sell something revolutionary in its infancy. According to Rai, the first step is to identify the real problems facing your target audience, and offer solutions. The solution can either be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).
There is a glaring difference between the marketing strategy of B2B and B2C. Customer purchase is usually based more on emotion, while that of a company is based on logic. The buying process of most companies is usually streamlined to save time and money. B2B consumers usually justify their purchase based on return-on-investment.
The moment your target audience begins to see you as a problem solver, your relevance will grow. Becoming relevant is the key to growth, innovation, and re-innovation.
Choose your source of capital wisely
The backing of a well-established financial firm can facilitate the growth and expansion of your business. The major problem here is that approval often takes 60 to 90 days. Raising money from a reputable financial firm is a demonstration of the strength of your business.
If you decide to go for an investor, make sure you stick with someone who shares your vision. Getting investors on board means giving up certain controls, as well as potential profits. According to the founder of See Jane Invest, Kelly Trumphour, some investors will give you a free hand, surfacing only when they are needed. Others will want to be a part and parcel of the business. An entrepreneurial-investor relationship can be beneficial to you, but you have to be sure of what you want.
Make your system flexible and be ready to move with the trend
There are different components of e-commerce but Rai splits them into two broad sections, namely cataloging and logistics. Cataloging has other subdivisions like the generation of product description, recommendations, search and indexing, seller on boarding, and so on. The various cataloging tasks are easy to automate using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. A good number of organizations are already using AI to complete tasks like trend analysis, meta-tag generation, and analytics.
The next major upset that will hit the e-commerce market is the interaction of hardware components with the connected ecosystem. This is to analyze purchasing behavior, and make better recommendations powered by AI algorithms. To survive in the growing e-commerce market, the major key players should be thinking of how to implement this already.
Place the right value on your business
Undervaluing your business is just as bad as over valuing it. Entrepreneurial coach, Nicole L. Royer, said, in its first year, a new business is usually worth around $75,000. Having a clear idea what your business is worth will help you determine the wage structure for you, and your employees. When someone goes through your financial record and finds out you are earning more than the worth of your business, it shows mismanagement of funds.
Impose your relevance in your chosen domain
The main focus of any entrepreneur should be how to become relevant in their domain. Investors will throw in their money based on preconceived market speculations. Funding-related environmental factors are out of the entrepreneur’s control, which means they must develop survival strategies. They should exploit avenues through which services can generate revenue.
The world is filled with distractions, says Rai, but only a few can be ranked close to inventing and creating. Entrepreneur’s should never to miss the opportunity to innovate and create. Clear away everything else when it is time for work. Become relevant in your domain and the rest will follow.
Approach the market with humility and respect for those already there
No business is new. You will find one to ten (or more) in your domain offering a similar product or service. Veterans often feel threatened when newcomers arrive and upset the status quo. If you define your stance as a competitor, be ready to bid important partnerships goodbye. Respect the experience and opinion of those who were there before you. Avail yourself of their advice, and where possible, offer your unique expertise.
Co-founder and CEO of LittleThings, Joe Speiser, recounted his experience when he launched PetFlow with his partner. Industry vendors refused to sell products to them. They had the funds, but they had no track record compared to their rivals. The problem was resolved when Speiser befriended an expert who opened PetFlow to vendors. As an appreciation, Speiser coached him on lead-generation, social and media buying.
Explore the economy and execute your innovative ideas
India is one of the highest consumer-centric economies in the world. This is made evident in the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) where it currently places third. The good news is that Indian consumers have their unique demands - gap local entrepreneurs should strive to fill.
Opportunities will always exist, said Rai, and entrepreneurs are saddled with the task of exploring those invisible opportunities. A good example of an organization meeting the needs of the local consumer is Patanjali. Although not bootstrapped, it has successfully displaced heavily funded Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs).
Entrepreneurs need to know the strength and weaknesses of their competitors, co-founder, and CEO of hovelstay.com, Michael Bolger advises. There must be something they are not doing well, or something you can do better. This creates the opportunity for you to step in and make yourself relevant.
Disregard the widely propagated knowledge that you should ignore negative feedback. As negative as they may sound, such comments can give you valuable insights that will make you improve.
Do you know any entrepreneur that started from the bottom and is now a lead figure in their domain? How did they survive? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.