” Post -COVID-19 e-Commerce to Break into a Gallop ” – May 23, 2020.

          If you ask the next person you see which is the most engaging business that he can cite, the answer will undoubtedly be “Healthcare or Real Estate”.  But that distinction could be given to  “e-Commerce”  now.

          COVID-19  is a  ‘shock’.  Young people and big businesses will get over this shock admiringly without doubt. It is like young and rich recovering faster than the aged and poor from any medical condition resulting from injury. One way of treating a shock is by employing shock therapy. Implied in my above statement is the need for a drug that will have the effect of another shock. Economy also needs a counter shock.

          These are times that try Human’s resilience. New concepts of living are also likely to emerge simultaneously. Businesses may also make new strides.

          On the morning of Thursday,  May 21, 2020,  I ordered vegetables, fruits, and a couple of grocery items from a popular e-Commerce vendor. The promised delivery time was 6 to 8 p.m., the same day. Payment along with the confirmed order by credit/debit card has been suggested. I tried several times to effect the payment but each time an error (unknown to me) in the system prevented spelling the OTP causing the transaction to fail. Within a minute of each failed attempt, the vendor responded by e:mail acknowledging the transaction failure but emphasizing the promise that the placed order will be delivered on time with ‘cash on delivery’ mode as the possible alternative. Delivery associate came at 8.09 p.m. with the items but insisted on e-payment only as per instructions from his superior. The offer will not stand and be cancelled otherwise, he added. I am a regular buyer from that popular vendor for more than three years with an accurate and clear record of e-transfer by card before delivery each time!  I wanted to give one last try with the card on hand in his presence and to my surprise the OTP message popped up firmly and I consummated the transaction. His relieved glance at me was a pleasant moment.

          What’s special here ? The vendor who used to accept  ‘cash on delivery’  for purchases stood firm on e-payment, a move away from cash transfer and towards digital transformation. Good business move.

          In the digital world on-line shopping is now high on the agenda. It also points the way business will likely change for ever after COVID-19  containment. It spells the challenge that MSMEs need to face to remain in competition in retail to post profits, since technology, expertise, and resources still remain their constraints. They used to serve the local community primarily and more than 70℅ do not have even a website. There are more than 36 million of them in the country ;  they produce/manufacture more than 6000 products,  traditional and hi-tech ;  they contribute 50℅ and more of total exports ;  they provide 45℅ of total employment while making up 95℅ or more  of all industrial units. For them to take the bite out of big players, strong on-line presence and  “guidance”  is a must.

          Some of these MSMEs are being guided by ‘Bluehost’ ,  a unit of  ‘ Endurance International Holdings, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (NASDAQ :  EIG)’  but that is only a miniscule part. Many want to grow their on-line presence but need adequate support. GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE : GDDY)., the largest domain register company in U.S.A. providing many other services like setting up on-line stores, guiding e:mail marketing, and search engine optimisation is also likely to be involved in helping us. Significant  in this context is the relief measures announced for MSMEs by the Finance Minister recently that cover :  1.  Providing necessary credit and finance ;  2.  Rs 3 lakh crore collateral free loans ;  3.  Rs 20000 crore subordinate debt ;  4.  Rs 50000 crore equity infusion ;  5.  Revised MSME definition ;  and  6.  Disallowing global tenders up to 200 crores and clearing MSME dues in 45 days. With these measures in place, revival of MSMEs look promising.

          E:Commerce is set to rise sharply and dramatically to be of great significance to our economy in future. People have also started feeling the impact of this rise. It has the potential to rise to the challenges of an economy that is expected to shrink and wane. It is also getting popular with the public. MSMEs need to be enthusiastic about it. Analysts are already bigging up e:Commerce on their shows and writings. It can make a big difference in business in future.

          MSMEs, their recovery, and their aggressive foray into e:Commerce will make the backbone of our economy is our realistic expectations and great curiosity. Everybody is excited and waiting expectantly. India may be opening its new Gate – well intentioned, well timed, and well advised – capable of arresting the economic slide in the years to come.

 

  “Dieu avec nous”

  Saturday, May 23, 2020  –  11.09 a.m. (IST)

  Tidbit : ” First ever on-line sale was on August 11, 1994,  when a man sold a  CD  by the band  Sting, to his friend through his website ‘Net Market’  an American retail platform.”

 

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