India’s small-scale businesses have now begun to take advantage of the festive economy from the boom in India’s e-commerce sector, said Vinod Kumar, President, Indian SME Forum, in an interaction on Tuesday.
In a Twitter Space discussion hosted by The Plunge Daily, Vinod Kumar said, “The essence of any business is: can I do something better at a lower cost? That makes you competitive and part of the whole ecosystem. You’re not cribbing about a big platform, but saying “Yes, I can take advantage of it!. And small-scale businesses are taking advantage of this boom.”
The session, anchored by Ashutosh Bhattacharya, was also attended by Dr Avik Sarkar, Professor, Indian School of Business (ISB) and former Head of Data Analytics Cell, Niti Aayog. Sarkar said that the e-commerce sector has begun to touch upon the lives of millions of Indians. “It is a interesting sector because it has been growing at a very fast pace. We are talking about $810 billion worth of the Indian market, the fourth largest in the world. We are quickly evolving to include sizable e-commerce plus retail component and an e-commerce-based retail component. We are talking about an online shopper base of 140 million people. That’s only a little behind China and the US,” said Sarkar.
Sarkar, a data scientist who has worked with several multinational companies, added that e-commerce has democratized shopping and provided a level-playing field to small entrepreneurs. “When it comes to sellers, and especially small sellers, e-commerce has democratized shopping by providing access to more than 95 per cent of India’s pin codes. That has empowered India’s micro or small entrepreneurs and sellers to be able to grow from brick-and-mortar stores and market barriers. They can create their own brands while creating employment for millions of people in the country,” said Sarkar.
During the interaction, Kumar pointed out many success stories he had come across during his tenure as president of the Indian SME Forum (ISF). He also emphasized how many Indian small-scale sellers are gradually finding that the e-commerce platforms, in fact, end up solving many of their logistical problems. “The bigger platform spends less than if the seller delivered the same item from their own warehouse. There would have been packaging costs and other costs involved in terms of delivery and the delivery agents. So I think they can bypass all that cost and deliver the same item at a much lower amount. If you are doing business, I think that’s the thing that you’re looking at the end of the day,” said Kumar.
Interacting with the owner of Sindhi Dry Fruits, a small family-run business, Kumar said that e-commerce has made it easier for businessmen like him to capitalize on their trademarks. “Your trademark is the best thing to have because that is the only value that you will be able to derive from your business. Everything else you might have, your machinery, your plant, or anything else is going to depreciate month after month, year after year. The only thing that you will survive is that it is a trademark. The government has also made getting trademarks very easy for everybody,” said Kumar.
“E-commerce offers a great education and training tool for every entrepreneur. Whether it’s handling logistics (as during festive seasons you can have a spike in sales up to three times) or learning to manage stocks, the right price to fulfil offline and online business requirements and managing credit and capital at the same time. How do you use a cost-benefit approach? How do you analyze data of your competitors or other sellers and showcase your own products so that you can get an upside in your business?”, said Kumar. “Now all of these factors are easily possible through e-commerce. A seller who is not online would not have been able to do this,” he added.
Kumar, who requested the Indian government to take measures to make e-commerce accessible for every Indian, said it’s also the responsibility of small sellers who are online to educate their counterparts about the advantages of having a digital presence. “It’s up to people like us, you and us that need to take this to people and tell them that it is imperative to get your business trademark. Don’t be working alone in silos. Try to get bigger, create a brand name, have the right quality, get tested and be in the white, not be in the black and build your business from then onwards,” said Kumar.