The power of digital B2B networking: How apparel MSMEs can thrive online

Here's how small apparel businesses can make the most of online networking with the help of B2B digital platforms.
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The past year-and-a-half has been transformative for industries, with physical trade taking a significant nosedive due to the pandemic. This has been especially pertinent in a country like India – home to almost 64 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These firms rely heavily on physical interactions with customers and suppliers to sustain growth.

India’s apparel sector was particularly affected. Comprised primarily of MSMEs and heavily traditional, these companies had to embrace digital tools quickly to continue to grow. Fortunately, several online platforms made it easy for apparel MSMEs to shift their operations from physical, local markets to the virtual environment. We explore how small apparel businesses can make the most of online networking with the help of B2B digital platforms.

An emerging growth propeller for apparel MSMEs

Online business-to-business (B2B) networking is fast proving to be a key differentiator for an MSME’s success. They allow firms to find new buyers or sellers and cultivate business relationships. Some of these platforms also offer marketplaces where companies can promote their products or conduct sales transactions.

Businesses comfortable with traditional ways of working can often find online platforms a bit challenging to navigate at first. But the ease-of-use and seamless benefits of these networking platforms are well worth the initial teething pains.

So, what are the benefits that MSMEs can reap via online B2B networking platforms?

Enhancing digital presence

It’s important to develop a clear and eye-catching digital representation for your company. This includes information on your products, services, geographic footprint, and even compliance credentials. However, you also want to make it easy for potential customers to find you online.

One way to do that is to ensure your online presence is search engine optimised with the right keywords that your target audience is using. Doing this well helps you be found and ranked highly in search results.

Brands with a strong digital presence communicate who they are, what they stand for, and the value they can add through their products or services consistently and compellingly. The more relevant information you include in your company’s profile, the better you are likely to be found by the right business partners.

Targeted networking

B2B digital platforms offer a massive advantage to mid-sized and small businesses by making it easy for them to find and connect with the right kind of partners.

Through intelligent search engine capabilities and proprietary recommendation algorithms, businesses can target their search using keywords such as products, location, company size or minimum order quantity. This reduces the time and resources spent searching for interested customers.

Private sourcing services

An edge that some online platforms, such as Serai, offer are private sourcing services which are targeted meetings set up for buyers with specific requirements.

For example, if a buyer from the UK needs 500 pieces of sustainably-produced yoga pants, Serai helps set up meetings for them with various suppliers from a range of countries who can fulfil those orders. Such services do not cost an exorbitant amount and can be an effective way to widen a buyer’s network.

Unrestricted by geography

The beauty of the internet is that it is global. Online platforms make it easy for a buyer in Europe to connect with a supplier in Bangladesh. Where previously sourcing professionals needed to travel to physically look at products, technology gives people other options.

3D software and artificial intelligence integrated into these platforms enable companies to create online product catalogues or facilitate virtual tours of their showrooms.

This allows companies to find new partners, learn about their products and make business transactions – all on one platform and in the comfort of their offices.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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