In the past few years, the emergence of online retail has ensured that the already burgeoning consumer retail industry reaches unprecedented scale. Just take a look at the numbers for the ‘Big Three’ of the Indian online retail industry – Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. Together, they make up around 90% of the market share, and the reason is obvious. The number of products listed on any of these websites at a given point in time is in the ballpark of 20 to 40 million. In essence, you can find virtually anything under the sun on these websites. The interesting fact about these products is that they are constantly replaced.
The apparel and electronics categories together dominate the Indian online retail market in terms of sales, and a common characteristic of both is the immense rate at which new products are churned out in the industry. With the entry of international ‘fast fashion retailers’ like Zara, ForeverNew and H&M in the Indian market, this rate has only witnessed a steeper rise. The same goes for the electronics industry, that thrives on consistently introducing newer products on the market, be it hardware, like phones and tablets, or even software, like apps and operating systems.
This trend of constantly changing the product line is interesting, in the sense that it makes the consumer feel that the product that they own is ‘old’, and needs to be replaced. This is one of the most important driving factors when it comes to online retail. It is therefore common to see stock being replaced by newer variants in quick succession. But for this technique to really work, it is important for the stock to be cleared out, so as to make room for the new product.
This is the point that many sellers find problematic, because there is always a danger of lagging behind in this cycle, with a warehouse full of stock that doesn’t clear out. The online seller, therefore, must give some thought and devise strategies to sell products that seem to lag behind. Here are a few tips on how you can start selling products that don’t sell.
Stock Clearance in Online Retail
Recognize Your Product Cycle
Every product category has its own pace at which it flows. While consumer electronics and fashion are really fast moving categories, other niche categories tend to move at a slower rate. This generally depends upon a lot of factors like the innovation occurring within the particular industry, the demand for the product and the overall marketing strategy. The important thing to understand is that for new stock to appear on the shelves, old stock has to flow out first.
The first thing that the seller must therefore do is to check for logistical bottlenecks in the structure of the organization, while taking into account the product’s replacement cycle. This will give you the overall idea in terms of a timeline for when to expect new product. In the fashion industry, innovation generally coincides with ‘seasons’. At the same time, a closer look at the behaviour of the Indian online market shows us that there are certain periods, like the sale season or the holidays, when stock clearance opportunities present themselves as opposed to others.
The Power of Window Shopping
Perhaps the most crucial thing to understand about online retail is the power of window shopping. In the brick-and-mortar world, the shop window is a precious resource. This space is generally reserved for the new additions to the collection, while the older ones go back to the aisle. On the internet, the shop window problem provides a few innovative possibilities. If your website is your store in the virtual world, where is the window? Intelligent website design can completely alter the way you look and interact with the website homepage. It is interesting to observe big websites like Amazon, in how they employ website design into showcasing their products.
In this case, an interesting thing that Amazon does, apart from the scrolling header, a prominent ‘deals’ button and an interactive interface, is that it manages to find spaces for product placement even within the tabs of the website. The important thing is to recognize that entering an online store is an experience that traces its roots from entering an actual store. Therefore, just as you would design your store so as to activate customer interaction at strategic locations in the space, you need to think about your website design in the same manner.
Make a Dedicated ‘Sale’ Page
This is a thumb rule that many online stores fail to follow. A dedicated sale page is one of the most active spaces on your online store, and its absence can be sorely felt. Just Googling Forever New shows the second result after the website’s homepage is the sale page.
Even within the Sale page, notice how the price is listed. The so called original price is crossed out, but visible, and a new price is listed along with it. The products listed on the other pages simply show the current price. Tiny things like this subtly manipulate the user into contemplating the significance of the sale.
Customer Engagement Strategies
This subtle manipulation of the user is more art than science. In this previous article, we talked about some of the ‘mind boggling’ psychological tricks that you can use to improve your sales. Relevant examples in this context are Anchoring – which is a cognitive bias that results from the human tendency to rely on the first piece of information that is provided. For example, placing an reasonably priced product next to an expensive one makes the former look inexpensive.
Another example is bracketing, which is a marketing technique where a mid-priced product is placed between an expensive and a cheap product to boost its sale. Some online stores create a sense of tension around the product by stipulating an end period for the sale. The idea is to make the customer feel that the sale is an opportunity they should not miss.
The nature of the online store offers innovative possibilities to practice the art of selling. The important thing is to recognize them. To know more, and in case of queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading ecommerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!
Browntape helps retailers sell online on multiple marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc. in India. They provide services and software that allow retailers to either outsource their online selling business or manage things on their own using their innovative inventory and order management software. In addition to that, they also help sellers improve their customer experience.
Source: Browntape Blog