How E-commerce Platforms Are Facilitating Small Business Owners for Selling Online
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) have time and again opposed the discounts provided by e-commerce giants – Amazon & Flipkart – arguing that it creates an uneven playing field between the sellers who sell online and offline. Online marketplaces, however, are arguing that they are instead enabling the small sellers to scale by bringing them online.
In order to ensure collective growth of the ecosystem, e-commerce platforms have been working for generating livelihood opportunities, developing infrastructure, driving tech adoption and boosting skill development by providing small sellers, brands, MSMEs, entrepreneurs and artisans by providing a marketplace for their expanding market access.
Online marketplaces have helped businesses stretch beyond their geographical limitations to reach the remotest parts of the country. “E-commerce has set in motion the development of industries such as manufacturing, supply chain and retail and bring small merchants and players online,” stated Nishant Gupta, Head of Marketplace at Flipkart.
E-commerce players are expanding beyond metropolitan cities to bring innovative sellers’ products on their platforms. 50 per cent of the 5 lakh sellers on Amazon India are from Tier II and below cities. Gopal Pillai, Vice President, Amazon India Marketplace stated, “We have a lot of programmes for taking grass-root level initiatives,” for helping small sellers develop and grow their businesses.
Walmart-owned Flipkart is also playing a key role in empowering MSMEs and helping them scale their operations by providing access to finance, technology and training - factors that they may have struggled with otherwise. “We empower our sellers with business insights that allow them to decide the best value for their own products,” stated Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart.
By opening the marketplace to small sellers, artisans and MSMEs residing in distant parts of the country, these platforms are making regional artifacts, clothes and accessories available to online buyers. From phulkari to gond art and even pithora paintings, e-commerce is making the rarest of artifacts available to end consumers by engaging with sellers from around the country.
The online marketplaces are expanding their network into more disconnected areas of the country through the latest technology and respective India-specific solutions. “We are constantly engaging with our sellers to understand how we can better their experiences and make e-commerce more beneficial for them,” Gupta stated.
Customers are not the only priority for e-commerce platforms now as, “They (sellers) will only remain in the marketplace only if they are growing,” Pillai stated. For hand-holding young entrepreneurs and startups, Amazon has Launchpad whereas Flipkart’s seller financing program, ‘Growth Capital’ enables financial inclusion and independence for MSMEs who operate online.
As festive season sales ring in, sellers from around the nation are increasing their offerings on e-commerce websites for reaching out to more and more customers. E-retailers are likewise helping them in via providing targeted account management solutions, brand building trainings, tech innovations such as digital payments, hyperlocal logistics, mass consumer engagements and digital advertisements.
Programmes Benefitting Small Businesses
Amazon is working with government cooperatives and societies for facilitating cluster development activities – conduct training programmes, help them create email accounts and even GST accounts, if needed, through an initiative called Kaarigar. The programme has 2400 corporate societies, entrepreneurs and master weavers.
Flipkart, on the other hand, has recently launched its key project – Samarth - to bring artisans, weavers, craftsmen and other under-resourced communities of the country online. The initiative is aimed at democratizing e-commerce by bringing sellers from marginalized sectors and gives them access to a consistently growing pan-India consumer base.
Fearing loss of profits, many traditional sellers still find it hard to trust e-commerce platforms. For increasing the confidence of 500,000 registered sellers on its platform, the homegrown marketplace, Snapdeal recently introduced ‘Pay per Transaction’ model through which the sellers pay only when they successfully complete an order triggered by the advertisement.