Riding The E-commerce Wave

ecommerce sites in IndonesiaE-commerce is a waking giant in Indonesia today, with a multimillion-dollar future, according to the Indonesia Internet Association. The number of domestic Internet users is around 80 million and this number is expected to double in just three years. A big driver of this growth is cell phones and smart devices, with many having their first Internet interaction via these devices rather than PCs or laptop computers.

With 220 million mobile phone subscriptions in a population of 240 million people, and Internet penetration currently at around 30 percent, the market is spurring the triple-digit growth of various e-commerce sites.

For many companies, defining an online strategy is still very challenging. In order to be successful they need to fully understand how their businesses can benefit from e-commerce and to be able to assess the financial and organizational implications of what it takes to implement their online strategy.

Implementing an online store is not like buying a new piece of equipment or investing in an advertising campaign. It is more like opening a new store. As in a bricks and mortar store, where a customer can browse through the merchandise, ask the staff questions and then eventually buy something, it is the same for an e-commerce website. In order to make products and services available online, to enable your customers to pay for them, and then for you to deliver them, there has to be more than just designing an attractive website.

What you see of an e-commerce website is often the end result of a complex process to deliver products or services to you over the Internet. In fact, it could be compared to an iceberg. The 10% that you can see is merely the Web Design and Online Marketing, and the remaining 90% comprises of the backend processes which include Fulfillment, Customer Relationship, Inventory Management, Warehouse Management, Supply Chain, Shipping, Manufacturing, and Outsourcing.


Ecommerce Iceberg

The Commerce Iceberg

Think, Plan, Do, Review: Planning is key. The online store may be an extension of an existing business or it may be an entirely fresh venture – either way, having a plan with Goals, Targets and costs is key to success – as the old adage goes – ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’.

An e-commerce technology partner can be invaluable and can accelerate your project by providing blueprints, strategy and components. But what exactly goes into an e-Commerce website plan?


omponents of Ecommerce

Components of Ecommerce

E-Commerce is driven by the software, so the exact way it works depends on the shopping cart software selected and the business processes around it. There are several components, however, that make up any online shopping cart solution:

  • Domain Name – The starting point which reflects your brand or business and needs to be easy to remember and find online.
  • Web Hosting – a good online store is dependent on secure and scalable hosting servers. Determining factors include support, reliability, bandwidth, features, and cost.
  • Merchant Dashboard – The dashboard is the tool to manage the online store and to set up your products, sales orders, customer data and reports. It’s the brain of the store.
  • Product Catalog – This is what the customers see on your site find out about the products sold.
  • Shopping Cart – The shopping cart is used by the customers to place orders. Customers add the products they want to purchase to the cart, provide information about shipping and payment, then submit the order
  • Payment Processing – Accepting payments with a payment gateway is the backbone of any online store; without it, customers can’t place orders. The shopping cart integrates seamlessly with the payment gateway and merchant account providers, as well as online payment services such as PayPal and Google Checkout.
  • Shipping – Once the order process is completed, the products need to picked and prepared for shipping to the customer for order fulfillment and even returns.
  • Tax Calculation – Calculating, collecting, and paying appropriate sales tax is another consideration and dependent on the laws where the business is.
  • Customer Service – In the virtual online space, customer service is the key to success through focus on delivering on basic promises and meeting expectations.
  • Search Engine Optimisation and Advertising – Bringing customers to online store is a critical for sales. Search Engine Optimisation is making sure that the site and its products show up in the popular search engines, such as Google, Ask, and Yahoo!. E-mail marketing, particularly to customers who’ve bought from you before is an excellent advertising tool.

The world of e-commerce is constantly evolving, and fast. Customer expectations have increased dramatically, thanks to the rise of social and mobile, and many online retailers are scrambling to keep up. Consumers can now shop anywhere at any time, whether from their PC or mobile devices.

Emerging web technologies allow the retailer to interact with customers in much the same way as they would in a store. By becoming better acquainted with the customer and tailoring the experience to the shopper’s personal taste, retailers can present products of interest. Websites will already ‘know’ what customers are looking for, even before they browse. Sites will eventually become so honed to the personal taste of the individual that everywhere a person shops will be a next-generation experience, built just for them.

The day is not far off when the online shopping experience will surpass any service or offering that is available in a store. The possibilities with e-commerce are endless.

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The 7 Essential Components of an eCommerce Initiative.

An enterprise eCommerce initiative is an investment and not a cost, and should eCommerce online shoppingbe approached from a more thoughtful perspectives based on value generation for the long term.

This is based on several key questions to prioritize the right opportunities in eCommerce and identify how e-commerce strategies such as

  • partnerships
  • investments
  • organizational structure
  • financial mode
  • shareholder value
  • future growth

best fit within their overall digital marketing agenda.  A fully fledged e-commerce strategy will eventually require an integrated approach that includes investments both offline and online in three core elements: content, data and analytics, and targeted media.
Content — such as ratings and reviews, how-to video tutorials, personalized match-finder applications, and digital shopper solutions — is the basis for differentiated online experiences that offer value beyond the product itself.

The collection and mining of online data and analytics is the key to discovering consumer and shopper insights that can enhance and drive engagement across the myriad touch points in the digital world.

Targeted media spend, both on e-commerce sites and across other media channels, is needed to reach mass audiences online and complement investments in owned and earned media in the quest to optimize conversion along the shopper’s path to purchase.
Companies that successfully create and execute e-commerce strategies that include all these e-commerce channels and foundational elements will be the category leaders in fast-emerging and valuable digital markets. strategy-plan-418

Just creating a website with a shopping cart functionality is not eCommerce. The 7 elements essential to eCommerce success are:

1. Supply chain is more important than website design. Don’t spend excessive time on the website. Even an ordinary website will also do if your delivery setup is strong.
2. Measure everything. There are a surprising number of items that can be measured and improved across the eCommerce website.

•    Time spent by visitors on site.
•    Bounce Rate – visitors leaving the site without visiting another page.
•    Most commonly taken path by visitors on the site.
•    Comparison analysis on which products are viewed more than others and why.
•    Highlighted products on the homepage vs sales
•    A/B splits on product names vs sales.
•    Analyze for losers in the product portfolio to replace with new ones.
•    Drop points. Pages from which large number of visitors leave the site without ordering.

Create funnels which will guide visitors to important pages.

•    Abandoned shopping cart patterns.
•    Analyze orders and adjust price points which make the most sales.

3. Be prepared for technical glitches, server outages, credit card gateway failures and a myriad of other unforeseen technology related problems.
4. Website information fulfills customer needs. This includes:

•    product descriptions
•    delivery and returns policy
•    company policy
•    privacy policy
•    detailed FAQs

5. Built in customer interactivity and engagement.  Some suggestions for doing this are:

•    Product rating system.
•    Product recommendation.
•    Discount coupons.
•    Request feedback mail to the customers.
•    Customers regular newsletters and product information.

6. Address every customer issue and complaint on a war footing.
7. Get a reliable technology / digital marketing partner for the venture.

components of eCommerce strategyIn the coming decade, manufacturers that follow this path will enhance their right to win with retail trading partners. They will be the companies that embrace the eCommerce opportunity within the broader omnichannel agenda, and build an eCommerce capability that engages shoppers wherever they are, however they want to interact, and with a winning proposition that delivers a superior experience.

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Spirituality is merely a journey from the mind to the heart – Swami Gnantej

swami gnantej‘Life is a Celebration’ smiled Swami Gnantej. A young computer science engineer by education, he left his job at HCL technologies after a year to be a full time volunteer at the Art of Living center.

‘I attended the AOL courses while studying and they were good learning but when I met Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar, I felt that so comfortable. Like I had come home and I was taken care of…’ he explains his move from corporate world.

He says that ‘in the normal sense after a celebration, one tends to feel tired but after the joining Art of Living, he celebrates life and feels great every moment’ Swamiji shared stories of his early days at the ashram and the spiritual guidance by SriSri himself.

Swami Gnantej is in Jakarta to conduct workshops on ‘mindfulness, mantra and music.’ ‘Every individual should have knowledge about their mind. It is a skill to be learned, as most of us are either in the past or the future so we are never a 100 percent in the present. Simple methods can bring your mind to the present, he said.

A small technique he shared was to observe your breath. ‘Breath has a pattern, if you are angry, the breath pattern is fast, sadness is characterized by deep breathing and when you are happy, the breath is light.’ So with his guidance, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and observed as the breath filled me and then exhaled. The process of observation was very inward and intense leaving no room for any thoughts, just a warm feeling of being.

swami gnantej2‘The flow of thoughts has different modulations. Many a time we might be physically present but our mind, which perceives, is wandering. The heart, however, is a seat of love where there is no perception or judgment. Spirituality is merely journey from the mind to the heart.’ He answered regarding the nature of spirituality.

When we meditate do we think or do we feel? ‘Neither, we just let go,’ he replied. ‘It is a common misconception, that meditation is focus. But meditation is to be in the nature of a se-er (the observer). Let the thoughts appear and let go. The highest form of prayer is meditation. It is a way to connect with our inner consciousness. Meditation is food for the soul.’

He pointed out an interesting aspect, ‘when we go to a temple and stand in front of the beautiful deity, adorned with flowers, we close your eyes. Why do we not feast our eyes on the deity instead? Gurudev  says that it is because God is within, which is why we close our eyes to connect.’

‘The first phase of any puja is when we invoke the divinity within to be present in all the idols and symbols. So any puja is not complete without mediation – the connection to the self’ he elaborated. ‘Mantra and music are techniques to go deep within and gather ourselves back. Many a time we go for puja when we are disturbed. While in a prayer, the mantra chanting enables us to gather ourselves and be stronger to face the challenges.’

‘Mantras should be understood, learned and chanted with proper pronunciation, as in Sanskrit, a slight change can result is a totally different meaning. One can use simple mantras which are just as powerful’ were his concluding remarks.

It was indeed interesting and enlightening to be in conversation with Swami Ganantej. Look forward to his workshops in Jakarta.

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The Spice Goddess: Bal Arneson

Chef Bal Anerson with Poonam SagarChef Bal Arneson (known in some circles as the Spice Goddess) is a Vancouver-based author, educator and TV personality, was a delight to meet. Along with her were her two children Anoop Virk, 20, and Aaron Arneson, 10, in Jakarta, while on a tour promoting her latest show, Spice of Life with Bal Arneson, exclusively on the Asian Food Channel where she takes her family on one-of-a-kind adventures in the kitchen and outdoors!

‘I involve my children in everything that I do. They are my family and this is most important to me,’ she says. Her daughter is now her executive producer. ‘My mother is phenomenal’ says Anoop.bal and kids

Bal (aka Bal Jit) immigrated to Canada from India after an arranged marriage and then separated from her husband when her daughter was only a year old. With no money and little English she started cleaning people’s homes.

She remembers ‘Anoop used to sit on top of the vacuum cleaner as I cleaned people’s homes.’ She was not allowed to study after standard eight and had to ‘learn all that was required to be a good housewife’. Coming from an Asian background and understanding that education is the key to development, she focused on education ‘I went to school and graduated. I also completed my Masters in education and now teach children with learning disabilities. To support my college education, I started giving cooking classes never imagining that it would lead to my own international TV show on AFC,’ shared Bal

Bal mentions her mother and her childhood kitchen every bal n kids 2time she talks about the spices that she loves so much and where she learned to cook. ‘My parents have since migrated to Canada and are based in Toronto. They were very disappointed with me when I separated from my husband and disowned me. I have tried reaching out but it has not worked,’ she shared.

‘When I was young my role models were Mata Gujri and Rani Jhansi. My personal life experience came from falling again and again, and continuing to keep getting up and learning from my mistakes. My Masters in Education gave me the ability to think critically and have an open mind to many different viewpoints.’ She has emerged victorious and strong from her hardship through her determination and positive outlook. ‘I want for my daughter to be independent and strong’ she adds.

She recounts when no publisher wanted to publish her healthy Indian cookbook as she had had no formal culinary training or experience. She approached a local publisher, Whitecap Books, “I told him that I’ve been cooking since I was six! I took my no-butter chicken to for him to try and got the book deal.’ “He loved the idea for the book and my passion for it.” she says. To promote her book she did some TV promos and the ‘TV loved me and the rest is history,’ she says with a big smile.

Her first cookbook published in 2009 Everyday Indian: 100 Fast, Fresh and Healthy Recipes and now she is promoting her third Bal’s Spice Kitchen. In 2010, Bal Arneson’s series, Spice Goddess, was launched on the US Cooking Channel and Food Network Canada. She has not looked back since and is now on a tour promoting her latest show on AFC across SE Asia with her children.

Bal at NYCRecently she had the pleasure of attending the “The Hundred-Foot Journey” New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater and meeting Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey with her children. ‘Shake Aron’s hand as he shook Steven Spielberg hand,’ she urges.

Her rags to riches story is an inspiration. Her journey to becoming everything she is today began a long time ago as a little girl in India. From a small village Tibbi in Punjab cooking in a clay kitchen, she is now a world renowned chef, author, educator and TV personality. Very authentic, warm and most admirable is her engagement of her children in all facets of her life.

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Karan Berry – Hard work is at the heart of the glamorous hospitality industry

Karan Berry Bolstered by a healthy economic outlook, the hospitality and tourism industry of Indonesia is booming. ‘I like the Jakarta traffic,’ says 41 year old Karan Berry with a broad smile, ‘as it means that guests have to stay for a minimum of two nights when they come for meetings.’

His mantra on hospitality is inspired by Gandhi: ‘A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.’

‘This is a great industry and has come a long way in Asia, with the growing economy and business travel,’ says Berry, who is very passionate about his work and is a senior hospitality professional, well versed with all operations and functions related to Hotel Management with over 17 years of managerial experience with top hotel brands in India and now here in Indonesia.

Family values are the building blocks of Berry’s management philosophy. ‘A good family life percolates to your work,’ he affirms. His father is his role model and has instilled values such as honesty, mutual respect and empathy, as well as, the importance of balancing family and work. ‘The philosophy that I follow is very simple to be fair, truthful and transparent in my personal and professional relationships,’ add Berry.

For Berry, management is more of an art than a science, and it is essential to have clearly articulated goals. ‘Start with the overall goal and then break it down into what each employee/leader’s responsibilities and roles are. Daily, weekly and monthly actions take time, but when it’s done, all will gain productivity, innovation and engagement,’ he says. ‘It is important to be open to feedback from the team in one-on-one meetings and better understand what motivates each employee/ leader.’ ‘Communication is the key to staff engagement and participation. A continual feedback loop and coaching is implemented to enable associates to reach their full potential. The shared experiences and learning are very impactful and create a sense of pride and satisfaction. Recognition and a rewards system instill in each individual the drive to excel,’ he adds.Karan Berry

 Berry’s keen interest and experience with playing cricket ‘taught me the importance of team work and achieving our potential goals.’ The Marriott ethos ‘if you take great care of your employees, they’ll take good care of the guests and the guests will return again and again’ is in sync with his thinking of leading by example. ‘I have also done baggage service,’ he shares, ‘people respect you if you are knowledgeable and apply your skills effectively.’

Berry manages his time through careful task management and prioritization. ‘Planning is a priority. I schedule daily, weekly and monthly meetings to review the activities, so I can plan, prepare and review accordingly. Learn and trust the tools, like Outlook and Blackberry. I keep one good notebook at a time for all my notes so those important freehand notes can be easily located when they are needed.’

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Focus On Action Not Results to Be Successful: S L Uttam

SL Uttam PT Busana Remaja AgraciptaWhat do the world’s top intimate brands like Victoria’s secret, DKNY, Spanx and others have in common? Many of these are manufactured in Indonesia at Shyam Lal Uttam’s PT Busana Remaja Agracipta (BRA) a top 10 fused garments manufacturer worldwide.

PT Busana Remaja Agracipta was established in 1993 by Uttam in a partnership, specialising in the production of a wide range of underwear and body garments for export markets worldwide such as the USA, Europe and Australia. ‘After 1999 I began directly managing the company on a day to day basis following the economic crisis in Indonesia’ says Uttam.

‘We have grown from US$ 3 million to an over US$ 75 million company with 5000 strong staff and 3000 machines exporting to 16 countries’ says Uttam with a broad smile, an incredible growth by any standards. From his original factory in Tangerang, which is still in production and also his head office, Uttam also has two manufacturing plants in Yogyakarta in Indonesia and has now diversified to a factory in Bangladesh which is managed by his son, Vijay Uttam, a graduate from Wharton.

Primaniyarta 2013 awarded to SL UttamThe company was also a recipient of the prestigious Primaniyarta export award 2013 by the government of Indonesia, and recognizes the constant and ongoing quality consciousness of successful Indonesian exporters who are then role models for other Indonesian exporters. ‘The jury was very impressed by the company’s performance’ narrates Uttam.

‘We successfully compete with China and our success is on account of three key dimensions: Full compliance to buyer needs and all the rules and regulations. Secondly, we have diversified our product range – from intimate wear to sportswear, and finally we are constantly upgrading our technology to foam cup development and bonded garment manufacturing.’ The high quality standards are maintained by the in-house research and design unit at PT BRA.

Uttam believes in honest business practices with adherence to guidelines. He says ‘there are 2 types of people – workers and managers. The managers are empowered to identify issues and find appropriate solutions, whereas workers merely follow directions. It is all about adding value.’

He leads by example with a personal approach and through motivating his staff. He encourages them to be in constant pursuit of excellence with integrity. While he has setup stringent systems and standard operating procedures, Uttam believes in being open minded, pragmatic and being supportive of the his mostly young employees. ‘Success is meeting self made challenges and to excel. I have always dreamed of an organization where the people are self motivated and dedicated and this is what I have created.’

For all young entrepreneurs Uttam’s message is brief ‘Believe in yourself. Do it honestly with no shortcuts.

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Making Art Difference – Painting To Give

The Volunteer Artists Group with the school Principal

The Volunteer Artists Group with the school Principal

The ‘Volunteer Artists Group’ is an informal group of women that got together with an idea to give back. It all started with Pavan Kapoor, a long time resident of Jakarta volunteering at High Desert International Foundation that had headquarters in Jl. Pintu Air. ‘I chose this charity organization as it was close to my home. It was wonderful to teach the children how to do magic with just a piece of yarn with crochet at a school Pulo Gadung area of East Jakarta,’ says Pavan

The school is a dismal structure which stands in the middle of ‘Kampung Sawah.’ This ‘kampung sawah’ is incidentally a small forgotten piece of land by the river, surrounded by gigantic factories Pulo Gadung.

‘During the heavy rains last rainy season reports of how high the flood waters reached inside the school constantly sent shivers down my spine. Every time the thunder rolled, my thoughts went to the school that existed just a hundred meters from the clogged river’ Pavan narrates.

She took up the cause with a few like minded artists and a lot of good hearts to come forward to paint murals on the walls of the Kampung Sawah classrooms. Some of the volunteers had never painted before and just came along to help with whatever they could. They too landed up painting and getting in touch with their artistic inner self. ‘I was initially scared as I had never painted on walls before, but once we got started it was so much fun and we did some good work,’ shared Vijaya Birla

The Happy Schoolkids Wall

The Happy Schoolkids Wall

‘The children would peek through the doors while we worked and many a time I wanted to interact with them,’ says Sunita. They now plan to volunteer some teaching sessions at the same school and interact with the students.

Tanya Alhuwalia at 22years is the youngest member of the group and is proud to be associated with it, ‘It was so much fun and I actually used my talents to give back.’

‘Most of the members were artists from the existing Indian artists group called ‘Different Strokes of India’’ says Meera Joseph. ‘We planning another exhibition of our works and the proceeds will be used for more charitable causes’, she added.

Once the rains subsided the work started in full swing and the artists could go in with their paints and brushes and let their creative juices finally splat themselves in vibrant hues.As the idea took root the HDI foundation also volunteered to fix the roof, scrape the paint and fix the broken walls.

Jungle Themed Wall

Jungle Themed Wall

The five classroom walls painted were outstanding and not only did the artists do something meaningful with their talents but also whet their appetite for more giving.

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