How No-Code, Automation & SaaS are together enabling SMBs to redefine their e-retail storefronts for superior customer experiences

Covid19 supercharges Indian retail’s transformation into eCommerce, SMBs who put high-quality customer experiences at the heart of their storefront will be well-positioned to succeed

As Covid19 supercharges Indian retail’s transformation into eCommerce, SMBs who put high-quality customer experiences at the heart of their storefront will be well-positioned to succeed. Democratic technology that enables them to do so is already here.

eCommerce grew by a decade in 1 year

“I used to work at a 5-star’s bakery in MG Road”, Sneha (name changed) from Bangalore said to me. “But when I got laid off during Covid, I started baking and selling online. Now I’m starting my online store”.

Sneha is one drop in this wave of nouveau eCommerce brands. Covid19 has supercharged eCommerce adoption in India. In Q4 2020 alone, it grew by 36%. This may sound incredible, but in 2024 India is expected to grow 84% to a $110Bn+ eCommerce market driven by Covid19, mobile internet, UPI & wallets.

An urgent need to stand-out

Brands are lost in 3rd place marketplaces which go for similarity in listing and design. Competitors can also easily sell copycats on the same marketplace at a cheaper price.

Indian SMBs are waking up to the D2C phenomenon where 3rd party marketplace listings are augmented with a 1st party online store. This saves them from unsustainable price differentiation rather than product differentiation.

Roadblocks to running a successful online store

“We quickly created our online store on Shopify, but soon ran into a problem. Daily, we make product bundles, add new items, run sales & promotions - all core to get more sales. But this needs a dedicated team”, an employee at a Delhi-based DTC startup complains.

This is a very common phenomenon. SaaS platforms like Shopify to apps like Dukaan are making it easier to set up stores, but running it every day is no mean business. For many, even the basics of store merchandising are not in place today. Keeping the storefront in sync with inventory & price updates, calling out new arrivals, showing dynamic top-sellers while maintaining brand and aesthetics needs an always-on storefront operations engine.

The gaps to achieve this today are twofold

● The online storefront, the ecommerce backbone (inventory, pricing, etc.), and design tools (brand guidelines, copywriting rules, etc.) work in silos. This means different people, different tools, inefficient operations.

● Real-time collaboration between a category manager, a merchandiser, a designer, and an engineer is required to make any store refresh a success. Sample this - every time a t-shirt’s stock runs below 50, all 4 individuals have to be on call so that an update can go out to the storefront, on time.

An obvious result is that only VC-funded brands can afford large teams to successfully run a superior storefront. Others end up fighting massive burnout, mental health issues; some SMBs even stop refreshing their storefront for weeks at a time, leading to spiraling shopper drop-offs and loss of trust.

Simplifying with no-code tools

No-code technology is breaking out into the mainstream, helping SMBs & entrepreneurs succeed without investing in heavy technology & teams. Especially in e-retail, affordable freemium SaaS toolkits providing no-code automation helps implement complex merchandising workflows for problems such as “How do I auto-sync new products to the storefront?” or “How to dynamically update discounts when prices change?”

Another trend is the emergence of data-backed auto suggestions, where SMBs can get real-time feedback on how their store merchandising is performing along with suggestions for optimization. We’ve all seen those ‘recommended for you’ that Amazon uses.

Newer technology like AR, personalization & headless commerce to enable digital omnichannel experiences are gonna make the next few years of online commerce even more exciting than the last decade.

SMB eCommerce tech - future’s bright

Universal access to user-first technology is key to empowering SMBs. The first wave of online commerce was all about packaging complex business systems such as inventory, pricing, orders into simple, self-served toolkits like Shopify, Wix or Dukaan.

The next wave of eCommerce will bring no-code technology, enabling entrepreneurs to go digital omni-channel, single-handedly. The day’s not far when every SMB has amazon-like storefront infrastructure at their fingertips.


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