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More Than E-commerce, It Is About E-enablers Now Although e-commerce was limited to some industries pre-pandemic, now all the industries are relying on e-commerce alone, as the offline market is going out of commission due to rise in COVID-19 cases

By Kushang Kumar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Amidst 2020, the world took a turn. First reported in December 2019, COVID-19 spread across countries and many economies had to shut down to brace for impact. For many of us, this is the first pandemic we've seen in our life.

Within India, 18,400,000 cases have already been reported. The current situation is dire than ever, with about 200,000 cases being reported every day.

While we cannot dismiss the dismay caused by the pandemic and the losses we have suffered, there is also an upside of all this. Since the pandemic, the culture has been evolving, with work-from-home becoming the norm, the usage of masks and higher focus on hygiene, and most importantly - how business is done.

The shift from e-commerce to e-enablers

Since the demonetisation in 2016, this is the first major transformation that India is looking at on its business infrastructure, on a global level. While the demonetisation changed the trend of cash to digital-payments, COVID-19 has shifted the sales of material and products from offline to e-commerce. The accelerated adoption of the e-commerce industry had us reach the expected market share of five years within one year alone, since the pandemic. There has been an over 200 per cent increase of online spending in groceries, medicines and subscriptions services over the last five year's average.

Although e-commerce was limited to some industries pre-pandemic, now all the industries are relying on e-commerce alone, as the offline market is going out of commission due to rise in COVID-19 cases and anticipated lockdown situation.

There is no denying that e-commerce is better than its former, offline counterpart. It brings along convenience on both sides: that of the consumer as well as that of the seller. There is saving on the real-estate. It is faster, much more efficient and reduces hassle. Once all the involved parties get accustomed to the new ways, they rarely go back to the previous methods, which is why this change is likely going to stay. In times of need, people now prefer to look online for a solution rather than walking into a market.

How did pandemic help throw light on e-enablers?

The traditional tools of commerce were becoming redundant with the evolution of technology, however due to the COVID crisis, the traditional tools are now out of commission. This has forced businesses to evolve in order to survive, leading to discovery of digital tools and platforms which can enable transactions and commerce over the Web.

The pandemic had closed out all the physical shops. There was no definite answer as to when the business will be able to operate again. This changed the whole perspective towards the e-commerce industry. More than an alternative, it became a part and parcel of all the business platforms. This made the business owners look towards e-enablers as it made it possible for the businesses to operate economically and efficiently even by staying remote. E-enablers had become a survival asset rather than a luxury asset.

E-enablers to the rescue of the business owners, by providing:

E-POS and Inventory Management: E-enablers helped the shopkeepers to handle daily operations and inventory management by going digital. E-commerce enabled the owners to remotely operate their store without any difficulty. With the help of E-POS, the management was able to keep a track of the number of sales and the inventory left with the store, all this remotely.

Cloud Storage and Analytics: Any idea backed with the help of data will derive a fruitful outcome. E-Enablers provide business owners, well computed and organized data at the speed of light. This helps the owners to just put up their criteria and a complete analyzed report be ready in a matter of seconds. What's more, is that these online companies provide businesses ample affordable cloud storage to save their precious data with security.

Customer Support: Customer support is one of the key areas that might be undervalued but never overlooked. Online ventures provide SME's features like contactless payments, virtual user interface, remote access to the store, etc that help the brands gain customer loyalty and bring brand equity to the company.

Software as a Service Providers: E-commerce provides you SaaS-based technology that helps you take your business to another level. It enables the brands to scale up the output of their business. Moreover, due to Covid, the usage of Cloud and SaaS products helps the business owners to remotely function and generate revenue at minimal cost.

This way, e-commerce turned e-enablers as it made the businesses recuperate the COVID effects. E-enablers helped to set up the businesses an online marketplace that helps them gain global markets at the same time keep up the pace with the demands of the people. From being a luxury for some businesses, it became a necessity for all industries.

All of us are currently living in flux. We are trying our best to adapt to strange times without a lot of footholds and our behavioural shift is the result of it. As business owners, we are facing similar uncertainties, while trying to support our customers' needs and that of our own.

Depending on the industry and audience, the response to the ever-evolving situation will change.

Kushang Kumar

Co-founder & CEO, SupplyNote

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