My first ventureSimbacart is about to complete its three years of operation this January 20th, 2017.Simbacart - an online shopping website focused on handmade products especially ethnic footwear, is a bootstrapped venture which I and my husband started by investing not only sweat but all we had.A venture that touched sales figure of nearly 3 crores and 30000+ orders in three years without any investor's money or a bank loan. The success of Simbacart has made the team proud by two great moments in the year 2016. Simbacart has been awarded as "Upcoming Startup Of The Year 2016" by Assocham India in August 2016.
We have been also called for TEDx IIM Kashipur, where I was one out of the ten distinguished speakers.A happy and proud moment for me and my team.
Simbacart is a clear example of survival for three years as a startup and growing organically,even being a bootstrapped venture and operating 100% from a small village Tangra in Punjab (India).
Selling is an important part in all the businesses and for e-commerce especially in India, It is a challenge. The even bigger challenge is to run it profitably and sustain it. Through my article, I want to share selling tips, which may be highly useful to the budding, mid-level, bootstrapped e-commerce ventures especially in India and may help the bigger and funded e-commerce ventures too.
Choice of the products
The best strategy for bootstrapped e-commerce ventures is to work on high-quality products. Especially those which have some niche in the market, as my venture is selling 90% ethnic footwear only, sourcing the highest quality possible and earning better than usual margins on the shoe. If you will not compromise on the quality of product you are selling, you will earn high value paying customers and that too repeated customers. With repeated customers, you save marketing cost in future.
Order on behalf of the customer
Give options to the customer to place the order on the Toll-free number, at your chat facility or Whatsapp itself. Enter order to your system on behalf of the customer. Do not insist customer to place an order online, you may loose 50% of your orders. Work on Call and Order strategy. Make your customers feel convenient. Treat them personally, delight them and turn them to repeat customers. Work more on brand recalls not brand awareness. Focus more on customer retention, not customer acquisition.
Digital Ad strategy
While running digital ads, run an ad for evergreen and highest selling products always.You can avoid, doing an ad of new stock and experiment every time. Keep new stock, new styles, new products for the customers that already exists. Never send the same stock images or emails to the existing customers. They need new things each time you approach them.
Logistics & Payments
e-commerce ventures should have tie-ups with maximum possible logistics companies, as every company serves different pin codes. Tie up with maximum courier companies reduces the chance of losing a cash on delivery order specially. Suppose you do not have Cash on Delivery option for a particular order from any logistics partner, remember Indian Post serves all the pin codes all over the country. Convince your customers to choose the prepaid option or pay you through channels such as Paytm or Instamojo. For the prepaid option to the customers, integrate at least two payment gateways.
Social media maintenance
Everybody does that, However on social media being very consistent is very important. Create a small team or do it by yourself. Learn photoshop, paint, coral draw and develop creative content on your own and upload daily without fail. Do not hesitate to share with a number of fans on your page or personal profile, it is your business your dream, share with as maximum people who allows you to share your post. It can be zero cost activity.You can also target focused audience and run low-budgeted ads. Attractive creatives and offers lead to cost saving in terms of ad budgets.Never lose a chance to write about your brand and your entrepreneurial journey. Whenever you find time to write and publish on blogs and platforms such as LinkedIn and facebook, Please do. Go extra mile for your venture, you have to play all roles. Don't wait for any media to cover you. In fact, save your hard earned money. Self-publicize your brand. Spread the positive word of mouth by interacting with as many potential buyers you get a chance to meet.
Focus on customer retention and making repeat customers. Bootstrapped e-commerce ventures must set CRM benchmarks for themselves. As Simbacart focuses on having a minimum of 50% repeat buyers within a year for footwear, which is our major business. With all the CRM tactics the companies apply, we can focus on the more personalized factor as we have a limited set of customers. We can keep customers delighted always. We should always be flexible in exchanges and returns. Definitely, it is a loss financially, but we gain confidence and loyalty of the customer forever. Every issue has to be reviewed on a case to case basis.
I hope the points may have helped. I am ready to answer any e-commerce related query. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Honest Writings
Mandeep Kaur Sidhu