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How E-commerce Is Changing The Micro-entrepreneurship Landscape of India By giving a level-playing field to new businesses e-commerce players can actually promote entrepreneurship across domains.

By Baishali Mukherjee

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Today, one of the major concerns for budding entrepreneurs - whether from small, lesser-known towns or big cities - is to find the appropriate market for their products or services. This would be the reason great products or business ideas would get thwarted. With e-commerce, regardless of where you are located, these ideas can now find avenues anywhere in India and even beyond. This then gives an impetus to talented individuals to confidently forge ahead with their start-up idea, knowing full well that they have a bankable platform through which to sell.

And when it comes to e-commerce, for brands bringing these entrepreneurs on board, it is win-win. Not only do the e-commerce companies expand their inventory and gain new customers, but the entrepreneurs also get a wider platform from which to reach newer customers.

Time is now ripe to cash in on this wave of consumerism by bringing about a change for the better in the micro-entrepreneurship landscape. Many e-commerce platforms in India have already positively impacted the livelihoods of micro-entrepreneurs and have successfully aided in preserving and promoting Indian talent and workmanship.

Giving Level-Playing Field To New Businesses

The Indian e-commerce market which is expected to reach $71.94 billion by 2022 is diverse and well equipped to provide SMBs in the country with a conducive environment for growth. The holistic ecosystem includes various components of a successful e-commerce network such as logistics, payment, technology-infrastructure and customer engagement and plays an important role in fuelling the growth of more than 60 million micro enterprises and SMEs in the country. Companies like Alibaba help in bridging the gap between merchants and consumers thereby enabling these merchants to expand their reach globally.

"The positive growth of micro-entrepreneurs is a key source of trade and innovation not only in the country but also globally," said spokesperson from Alibaba.

"One of the key objectives for us has been to enable and empower businesses which are looking to broaden their markets – regionally and globally. We have been present in the Indian market since 2008 with our B2B platform – Alibaba.com, with a focus on creating profitable SMEs. At Alibaba.com we organize local partner workshops with the aim of providing SMEs with a global exposure and a positive uptake of their business," he notified.

Vishwavijay Singh, Co-Founder, Salebhai.com, feels, not only does this new tech-enabled opportunities give rise to a bigger number of entrepreneurs across the country, it also leads to an increase in employment and helps contribute to the economy of their regions.

It is now being said that by giving a level-playing field to new businesses vis-a-vis bigger brands, e-commerce players can actually promote entrepreneurship across domains. Singh brings on board sellers from interior regions who otherwise would not have been able to showcase their products to such a huge potential online customer base.

Unique Franchise Model Boosting Micro-entrepreneurship

Ashish Shah, Founder and COO, Pepperfry, is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit that forms the cornerstone of Pepperfry's culture. His organization is focused on helping its partners' businesses by providing them with a national platform to scale up their enterprise.

Additionally, in an effort to build the largest omni-channel network the company has established an exceptional franchise model, which aids in supporting and promoting new-age entrepreneurs across the country.

"This unique business model does not require the partner to hold product inventory, and is based on 100% price parity. It offers a lucrative commission structure where the franchise owners can benefit by earning commission on each online transaction made at the franchise studio," shared Shah.

The franchise business proposition offers the advantages of low capex and zero inventory investments and focuses the energies of the franchisee entrepreneurs towards market expansion, therefore, being a win-win for all involved.

Presently, with 32 studios launched, Pepperfry intends to expand its offline network by opening 70 Studios by April 2019, which will be a combination be of owned and franchise studios. These will mostly be Franchise Studios in the Tier I and II markets.

Shah is also building an omnichannel home and furniture network and will tie-up with various new entrepreneurs. "We are encouraging new-age entrepreneurs through our Studio Franchise. Through our channel partner programme we are also engaging interior designers and architects and are offering commission to them on every order placed. Besides, we have a referral program wherein members can refer other architects and interior designers to earn through a 2 tier commission structure," he disclosed.

Create Business Plans Serving Interests Of Both Company & Partners

Abhiraj Bhal, Co-founder and CEO, UrbanClap.com, is also deeply convinced about the potential of e-commerce in changing the micro-entrepreneurship landscape. According to him the human-driven services platforms should have a business plan that serves the growth interests of the company as well as the service professionals it partners with.

"The UrbanClap model is built on the bedrock of service professionals who, in the process of growing their own micro businesses in beauty, home repairs, or appliance repairs fields - drive the company's growth. The returns are put back into the business to build further,|" he shared.

A partnership-based module has multiple impacts. Economically, on micro level, it creates multiple jobs and sustainable opportunities for self-employed service professionals. On a macro level, it structures the largely fragmented unorganised labour sector.

"On a business level," notified Bhal, "it bridges the gap between customers looking for quality services and individual professionals who can provide the same, with a company setting high standards of customer (and partner) experience, through service guarantees and standardised operating procedures."

The social impact is an increased sense of dignity of labour, especially for blue-collar service class.

Smart Techniques Minimize Waste Maximize Entrepreneurial Potential

With new-age entrepreneurship potentially breaking barriers as far as leading to the development of actual solutions to issues, it is only imminent that the individual packer and mover service providers also integrate smart techniques so as to minimize wastage of resources whilst maximizing entrepreneurial potential. Platforms like Shift Karado are unveiling plethora of opportunities for these budding entrepreneurs by bringing them on one platform, enabling them to use the new age technologies.

"It provides them an opportunity to network with other similar vendors to expand their reach. In an unorganized market like relocation, it is necessary to bring in the level playing field so that the industry can aim towards achieving the balanced economic growth. This also would promote the vision of the government's smart cities mission by enabling start-ups like ours to create more jobs for small businesses hailing from small towns," concluded Aulina Mithal Sood, Co-Founder, ShiftKarado.

Entrepreneurs speak

Prerna Agarwal, Co-Founder, Lavinas, a leading fabric and apparel brand, joined Alibaba as a free member and then became a Gold Supplier member. Agarwal claims to have achieved an enviable status along with the most successful business firms with the help of e-commerce players, and now she is dominating the market with top-notch commercial valuables. Vikas Solanki, M.D and Founder, Avantika Creation, e-commerce platform helped him, get orders from different overseas market. His first order was from Europe helped him launch more range and designs of products and we get more enquires from the platform he was associated with. Virendra Singh Shekhawat, M.D & Founder, Shri Ashapura Jewels, have got a very good response from the market after his association with e-commerce. Initially, there was a fear of full filling big orders but it eventually, Shekhawat has evolved as one of the largest exporters of Silver jewelry (925 Solid) and a wide range of semi-precious gemstone, having customers from around 40 countries.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer


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