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What I Learnt From Hosting Zepo’s Inaugural ECommerce Workshop

How does one start a workshop with supreme confidence? With multiple sets of eyes staring at you intently, it does get a little nerve-wracking to be honest.

I recently conducted an ECommerce workshop in Delhi for people who were interested in understanding about selling online. I was aiming to simplify the world of online selling to a small, but eager crowd of 16 people who had registered.

By the end of the 3 hour session, i had unearthed several key insights that helped me understand my target audience a lot better. Here’s my experience of delving into the mind of E-Commerce entrepreneurs in India.

Event Summary

zepo workshop explara event flyer

Yup, that’s me in the promotional image. Out of a 100 ways to start a workshop, I chose the “Let’s Introduce Ourselves!” method. It’s always good to break the ice before you embark on a discussion. Yes, discussion is what I ended up calling it rather than a workshop.

We began the session on a pleasant Saturday afternoon with 16 eager, enterprising souls in attendance at this quaint little studio above St Cathedrals church. As I started with the round of introductions, I was pleased to know that the crowd came from diverse business backgrounds.

We had 2 ladies who were in the process of setting up their fashion web-store and wanted to know more about setting up the logistics. Then there was a couple who owned a leather bag manufacturing facility, and were looking to increase their online sales. We also had a few people who were exporters and wanted to carve a niche in the Indian market.

One gentleman simply came to get acquainted with what online selling was all about. He proclaimed that he was “technically challenged”, but wanted to get acquainted with E-Commerce.

Now that I knew my audience, I was better placed to discuss topics that would help them the most. I gathered 5 major concerns from the crowd:

  1. What do I need to know before getting started with online selling?
  2. I don’t know coding. Can I still start an online store?
  3. Operational issues –  What about payment, logistics, packaging?
  4. How do I generate sales on my own web-store?
  5. What does marketplace selling entail?

These are fairly common queries that i usually encounter. Let’s look at how we went about addressing each of the questions:

  1. What do I need to know before getting started with online selling?

    Figure out your channel – You need to do a bit of introspection, maybe a deep dive into your business and understand the pros and cons of having your own branded online store vs Selling on marketplaces.
    Define features – What you require from your E-Commerce business in terms of functionality will determine the kind of website you will require. It might be a simplistic plug and play ECommerce website or an advanced website with special features such as creation of custom products on the go, rental model etc.
    Site content – You will be required to sort out Product Photography, product description and other site content before you venture out on the journey of starting your E-Commerce business.

  2. I don’t know coding. Can I still start an online store?

    I answered YES emphatically to this basic, but very crucial question!

    Platforms such as Zepo are there to help businesses set up an end-to-end ECommerce process without business owners possessing any technical know-how.

    The question of DIY platforms vs Development Companies persisted in people’s minds. My answer was very simple: If you find it complex/expensive/difficult to develop custom features, DIY platforms are the simplest and most hassle free way to get started.

  3. Operations –  What about payment, logistics, packaging?

    It surprised many in the audience that DIY platforms came pre-integrated with a payment gateway and logistics. I have summarised the solutions for all 3 concerns in the write-up below:

    Direct tieups vs logistics aggregator – It is always better to choose someone who has better rates, efficient processes and a dedicated support center as compared to managing operations with multiple companies yourself. Zepo Couriers is one such option that can ease logistical pains by a mile.
    Packaging – In the volumetric game of logistics, packaging plays a prime role. It can also be leveraged for marketing via branded packaging and labelling.
    Payment gateway – The key word here is TDR (Transaction rate). as long as you know your TDR’s, you can choose from multiple payment options such as PayU, CCAvenue, EBS, Instamojo etc.

  4. How do I generate sales on my own web-store?

    SEO and online marketing seemed like rocket science to most. The cost of marketing is simply assumed to be very high, which is discouraging for most business owners. I was happy to suggest low cost solutions for SME’s.

    Word of mouth/PR – This works great for any Business, hence customer success is of prime importance. One happy customer brings an additional customer.
    SEO/Email & SMS Marketing – These are the standard tools used in the market for attracting new & repeat Business.
    Social Media Marketing – The easiest but most inappropriately used tool available for online marketing. Why do I say so? Well, most people start off a campaign and leave it static with random, periodic management. This results in an initial peak, but later results in a flat-line for sales.

    There are automated solutions such as Zepo Marketing which automates this process and takes a periodic deep dive into your campaign to ensure consistent ROI. Amazing isn’t it?

  5. What does marketplace selling entail?

    The world of marketplaces selling is both crowded and confusing for all. Although many perceive it as the sure shot method of generating a lot of online orders, it has its own pitfalls.

    Non registered Business – Without a VAT and TIN, you simply cannot sell on marketplaces.
    High returns – The seller has no control on the returns policy and can be subjected to high returns which leads to loss of inventory and revenue both.
    Managing Multiple marketplaces – Using tools such as Zepo Marketplace which enable order and inventory management via a single dashboard help you streamline your marketplace selling approach. Not just this, it also helps you reconcile orders across marketplaces which creates a transparent picture of the monies owed to you from them.

Hosting this session was a bit of an eye opener for me. I learnt quite a bit about the way people perceive E-Commerce in general. There was a lot of curiosity out there about selling online, and people were willing to experiment. I addressed that issue by simplifying the nuances of starting a business online, and running it effectively with tools such as those offered by Zepo. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author

A graduate from the London School of Economics, Ruta has over 7 years of experience across industries like ECommerce, Finance, Travel and Transport. She has previously worked with brands like Citi Group NA, Virgin Group and Visit Britain. As a core team member of Zepo, she has helped over 100+ businesses tackle challenges of setting up their online business and generating sales online.

Zepo powers  1700+ Online Stores. Take the 14-Day free trial of our platform and get end-to-end E-Commerce solutions.

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