In continuation of our previous article that spoke about the RELATED SERVICES in both London and Mumbai, this is the final part and talks about Regulation for an apparel e-commerce business, as they exist in the two cities.
Customers are at the centre of most businesses (at least they should be!) and this is especially true for an online business, in which the customer neither speaks to someone face-to-face nor do they have a chance to walk around and see things in person. Does this create anxiety and potential doubts in the minds of customers? Of course it does. Is there a solution? Not really, nothing is going to replace face-to-face. Can these be mitigated? of course, and regulation is part of the answer.
Customers need to be confident that their experience is going to be great, either because the store chooses to do so, or because there is a strong regulation backing up the claims that stores make. It is in the best interest of all concerned that regulations are an assurance that things are going to work they are supposed to, and not necessarily invoked.
Regulations are essential for creating a level playing field amongst retailers, while assuring a base line of service to customers. Was this important for us as a retailer? Yes, an essential consideration. Our intention has been to give customers a superb level of service, most of the times above and beyond what is required by law. And this is best done in an environment that ensures that other retailers abide by certain service quality standards.
For e-commerce to work efficiently, especially for apparel e-commerce, customers need to have the option to return products if they do not like the products. This is crucial because in the first instance, the customers have not seen the products and hence might not be in the best position to make a decision regarding the same. For products that are standard and off-the-shelf, this option gives customers the confidence to shop online, with comfort and confidence. In India, there are no regulations with respect to online commerce. There is no requirement for the information to be given by retailers and neither is there regulation around mandatory return policies. Individual retailers determine the policies.
Comparatively, in the UK, the policies are well defined and the standards that retailers need to follow are laid down in the rule of law. The enforcement of these laws are extremely well managed and there are various avenues for customers to seek redress. For us, this framework is crucial because we know that we can offer the best quality of Indian designer clothes to customers without being at a disadvantage compared to other retailers, just because of operating policies.
Other than this specific case of return related policies, the general framework for regulations around e-commerce are much better defined and implemented in UK as compared to India. This led us to naturally choose UK over India at least as far as Regulations were concerned.
In summary to this multiple part series, the conclusion to base our business in the UK, was a logically thought out and appropriate decision for our business. London is a great city, especially for Indian Designer Clothing, given the close cultural ties and the quantum of population of ethnic origin that lives in London. The Olympics had nothing to do with the decision, we promise!