On Target!

This morning papers were abuzz with big story of Target finally finding its way to Canada. Even though Canadians have been familiar with the retailer for over half a decade, Target did not have a direct presence in Canada. But with a cool $1.8 billion deal with Zellers for 220 stores spread across Canada, probably Target got the best chance to make it big, taking lead from other US peers.

Big Investment:Target is expected to spend another $1 Billion on renovating and refurbishing 100-150 stores to brand them in Target Stores. The first store is expected to open in 2013. Target is expected to add thousands of retail jobs through this acquisition. A typical U.S. store employs between 150 to 200 people, meaning tens of thousands of jobs will be created, it said.

End of another Canadian Retailer:On the other hand, the Target acquisition may mark the beginning of the end for Zellers, founded by Walter P. Zeller in 1931 as a store for thrifty Canadians. Canada’s second biggest mass-market retailer has struggled to compete the likes of Wal-Mart and Costco in recent years though it does have deep rooted community links in Canadian market. Surely some of the loyal customers going to miss it from Canadian retail scene for some time.

Target’s Brand Equity: Interestingly when I spoke to some colleagues and friends if what they expect from Target now that it is only a matter of time when it starts selling in Canada, most of them reacted positively. The cost competitiveness with a Better shopping experience is what they look for. The same things were highlighted by Target CEO in a recent interview. Another thing a friend mentioned was how American retail chains such as Costco, Wal-Mart, Best Buy etc have mastered the art of retailing compared to Canadian Retailers who doesn’t seem to be a match, at least against big box top of the line giants!

Good Pay Master! Also it seemed better employee pay and perks is something that interested one of the person who works with a local Canadian retailer. It makes sense for sure what with Target purchase going to create thousands of retail jobs.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11

eCommerce – What you need to know

So you’ve decided to open an online store. Maybe this is in addition to a store you already have in a shopping mall, or maybe your foray into ecommerce is a totally new step for you. Have you figured what do you need to do before you open your eStore, apart from the basic initial steps of forming a company, registering to collect sales tax, deciding what your product(s) or service(s) will be, and identifying our target customer (there are a few products, but only a few, that sell to “everybody,” and even toilet paper appeals to different segments of the market according to whether it’s marketed as “budget-priced” or “soft and luxurious”).

You would be amazed at how small and medium segment of industry has adopted the eCommerce Bandwagon. The internet as enabler has in many cases put a small supplier on the same platform where he competes with big brothers effectively! If you check out sellers details on eBay India you would sure notice the chunk of sellers coming from smaller towns who source these goods directly from the people who make in their backyard. Many of them are not only surviving bigger online sellers but in many cases thriving because of focusing on  a small range of products competing largely on uniqueness and creativity. Categories that are most intensive range from mobile phones, gadgets, fashion and accessories, souvenirs, homeware, health and wellness, appliances products.

1 – You need to decide on a privacy policy, word it reassuringly, and publish it on your site. Your customers want to know what you will do with their names, addresses, credit card/debit card information, and any other info you collect about them.

2 – Ensure that your online transactions are secure, both for your customers’ sakes and for your own. You’ll want SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption for your customers’ data, especially their credit card/debit card information.

3 – You’ll need a shopping cart that’s user-friendly yet sophisticated enough to offer you as many options as you need for better selling. The dropped carts is currently one of the biggest issues plaguing the eCommerce portal.

4 – You’ll need a way to accept payments online. You must carefully think about this based on your customer profile. You may opt to simply accept PayPal and nothing else, or you may want a merchant account so you can accept credit and debit cards.

5 – You need to set up order fulfillment. Depending on whether you are manufacturing the products you sell or having them drop-shipped or stocking in a warehouse merchandise you buy from outside vendors, your order fulfillment could be as simple as “pick – pack – ship” or as complex as notifying 20 different vendors, at the end of every day, of the merchandise they need to ship on your behalf and the customer names and addresses they are shipping to, as well as transmitting payment for same.

6 – You’ll need to advertise in some manner. “Advertising” can mean traditional print or broadcast media ads, email blasts, Google AdWord ads, flyers sent through the postal mail, or internet articles or blogs that direct the reader to your site, among other methods.

7 – Along with advertising to bring new customers in, you’ll need a means of getting customers to return, such as coupons that offer such incentives as “10% off on your next order.

8 – You’ll need to make changes on your site from time to time – featuring different products, having sales on differing products, promoting new products, and such.

9 – Offer good customer service to keep your customers on consistent basis. Make sure your customers’ information is well guarded. Send out shipments promptly. Replace or refund for any defective merchandise. Maintain a good reputation. Even if the customer isn’t “always right” as the old maxim had it, bend over backward to give all customers a good experience.

10. Be sure that you choose the right product to sell online where you have some sort of edge in terms of price, design or quality. Never compromise on quality and delivery timelines even if that means to go with more expensive delivery partner. Secondly if your product has a limited self life do care about the packaging that is durable for the transit.

You’re almost ready to open up for business now. Here’s to your success!

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11

Banking on eCommerce

After years of denial and doubt about power of web in servicing potentially profitable customers, the retail industry has come to embrace web as a main stream channel. The shift hasn’t been easy though especially with firms having decades of brick and mortar experience suddenly grappling with this new beast that needed to be tamed! And yes, the sector has done well to reach out in time to understand what customers are looking on the web and unique buying patterns which are different from the store experience and buying pattern.

Of course, the acceptance of shopping mart on the web has not been equally fast in different continent especially with concerns and fear of credit card misuse being rampant in some places than others. Still US and Europe has steadily addressed these perceived issues fairly to a good extent and consumers are more comfortable buying online in these continents than they have every been which is a good sign for things to come for retailers. In fact, some of the leading brands from US e.g. eBay, Amazon, Dell, Office Depot and Best Buy have led dramatically by growing in double digits over the last few years.

Web is an unlimited growth opportunity for any enterprises & presents many possibilities both business to business (B2B) and Business to Consumer CB2C).  It has got much needed push from new media is an open area for communication and the exchanging of experiences and wide range of opportunities across the globe. If you are an organisation with products and services with global appeal you will need to think seriously to tap this new opportunity.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11