[India MSME Summit 2021] The future is online selling: Why MSMEs need to leverage ecommerce
It is an understatement to say that ecommerce has transformed the way businesses are functioning in India. They have proven to be a game-changer, especially for MSMEs and SMBs where ecommerce is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion in 2017.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when the first lockdowns were imposed, MSMEs were the worst hit. In the second wave too, MSMEs have borne the brunt of successive lockdowns and mass public fear. However, a few businesses did manage to survive, and are also thriving in these tough times, and they are businesses that have adopted digital tools and leveraged technology.
In a video interaction during YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021, Hirdyesh Mordani, Co-founder, MyEasyStore; and Kishore Indukuri, Founder, Sid's Farm, talk about how ecommerce has disrupted the MSME and SMB business sector, and all that it entails in the future.
Help businesses reach potential customers
We begin talking about the impact, and both Hirdyesh and Kishore agree that thanks to ecommerce, businesses have been able to reach customers and pin codes that would have otherwise been unreachable during the lockdown.
Kishore recounts how he was able to keep his dairy business up and running by leveraging ecommerce and technology. When other businesses were forced to shut down, he says adapting to the latest trends let him continue working for his business, ensuring essential milk supplies also reached customers.
What amazes Hirdyesh is how ecommerce enables businesses to reach far flung customers without having to move from their physical locations. “Ecommerce also played a major role in streamlining business processes right from receiving a product order, to managing deliveries, keeping a track of stock and even analysing consumer feedback and data,” he said.
Minimum investment, maximum gains
Founder of MyEasyStore, a platform that empowers business owners to create their own personalised online store for a subscription fee, Hirdyesh feels that the biggest advantage for an MSME or any small business in setting up an ecommerce store lies in the fact that it entails minimum investment.
“When you set up your shop on ecommerce platforms or any other way, you do not have to pay hefty rents, electricity bills, or hire staff - all factors that contribute to major expenses,” he explained.
To run a business online, an entrepreneur only needs to pay a subscription fee or a commission, which allows businesses to scale at convenience.
The future is online selling
Talking about the future of online selling, Kishore, who began his milk business online, said that if a business needs to cater to masses, it has to move online.
“Online selling gives you ready data about consumer behaviour. This helps businesses to innovate according to the market demands, which is essential to survive and sustain,” Kishore said during the conversation.
Mistakes to avoid when selling online
Hirdyesh spoke about the importance of understanding who your customer is from the very beginning, as easy access to customer data is the norm now.
“The first focus should be on selling your products. Entrepreneurs should leverage the many tools available out there to get their business going, rather than build tech products themselves,” Kishore added, indicating the common mistakes entrepreneurs can avoid when taking the online route.
When cost-effective tools are available out there, businesses should exploit that, he added.
Traditional businesses are ‘now’ at the right door
Many MSMEs and small business entrepreneurs were forced to take to the digital route during the pandemic, a move that may not have necessarily happened had coronavirus not disrupted life. On whether this trend is here to stay or not, Hirdyesh said, there is no looking back, as it is unthinkable now to run a business solely on the back of an offline model, what with the convenience that ecommerce offers.
Quick to agree to this, Kishore added that the COVID-19 pandemic had given a push to digitisation, with an impact akin to 2016’s demonetisation.