The outbreak of Covid-19 has led to major disruptions in all industries, with travel, hospitality and automakers among the hardest hit sector in the country. Supply chains are in turmoil & many offline businesses (no matter how big in size) are getting crushed & closed. Millions of jobs are disappearing; employees getting laid off from well known companies and on top of all this, a looming public health crisis threaten to claim many lives due to this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought everyday human activity to a grinding halt, with economies across the world taking a hit, India being no exception. This has also severely impacted the startup ecosystem in our country but this environment has also provided the avenue to re-engineer oneself to cater to the new demand.
The pandemic has also highlighted the glaring need to bridge the digital divide, both within and across the country & states, given the central role; digital economy has played during this crisis. Many traditional obstacles have been highlighted and have enforced more importance and greater participation of e-commerce activities in the retail segment.
The Online B2B platforms across India are now focusing on making sure they are able to target those areas which are severely hit & onboard more partners on their platforms by offering customizable services and aligning their core competency & service portfolio with the ongoing trends & in demand materials. Many companies are helping business to come onboard the online wagon and help them in operating their business and reaching their end user/consumers across different geographies.
Effect on Online Listing & Other Services: After the first phase of Lockdown was initiated, the offline businesses were severely hampered. This led to increase in listing of businesses which were not using online services on online B2B platforms. The increase in Listings were also facilitated by temporarily decrease in subscription charges & expansion of serviceable area by players. The focus is on highly practical challenges like transforming processes to allow for all-digital or remote working to happen, which must be resolved quickly if business and society are to remain functional despite the crisis. Another focus is on making sure that the consumers are aware that the online marketplaces are open even if the offline places are closed, hence the online marketplaces are trying to market themselves in an efficient way even as they are struggling to match a good level of enquiries. Other services such as Logistic/Procurement services are also affected in many parts of the country, but the Online B2B platforms are looking forward to get them on track with the help of reduced red-tapism & permit requirements from the government and have focused on digitization services and partnerships with logistics aggregators to improve their reach.
Efficient Strategies Applied by the Market Players: The initial days of the pandemic saw a huge number of people & business stock up on essential items and various other products. The result has been a spike in online purchases of some products, as well as an increased demand for a wide range of digital services, as many consumers resorted to online shopping, either internet enabled or by telephone. Several brick-and-mortar businesses have therefore shifted their resources to e-commerce platforms. The increase in the number of consumers flocking to digital services has spurred both suppliers of these services and telecommunications operators to enhance their network capacity and to offer advantageously priced or free data and service packages. Manufacturing in many countries has come to a halt & only specific things are being produced. Online Platforms such as Bizongo & Moglix are trying to play their part in the process of shifting resources to e-commerce platform and are helping businesses with customer acquisition and product branding. Many of these players have also played an important role in distributing essential goods during this pandemic in regions far from metropolitan cities.
For instance, Bizongo, the Mumbai-headquartered B2B startup focused on the packaging industry, has just done that by turning its energy and attention to the supply of the much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus crisis such as gloves, masks, sanitizing equipment etc.
Moglix has also tried to focus on providing equipments which are specifically focused on preparing protective equipments & reducing commissions on them as well.
IndiaMART on the other hand have enabled special directory on their platform which provides information regarding Test Kits sellers or other protective equipment distributor, in order to enable the vendor discovery.
Other platforms Like Udaan, Ninjacart & Other platforms working in small regions across India have compiled a list of their suppliers & have circulated the same in order to facilitate phone call ordering to cater to the less tech savvy part of the population in the country.
Platforms such as Trade India & Industry Buying have further enhanced their platform with third party Logistic & Distributors to facilitate the deliveries in an efficient manner.
A major focus is also being given on Marketing the products in a safe & Sanitized manner across India in order to win over the confidence of the consumers.
Shifts in the Business Practices: A changing trend in business practices during the Covid crises came in the form of tie-ups with local players to effectively widen the horizons of the various partners on the Online B2B platforms. This was coupled with the movement of assets & production capabilities towards medical & protective supplies which is the need of the hour. However, this digital wave is supposed to have a cascading effect on the offline business of the suppliers & many of them will now focus on leading a digital life with ease of services & enhanced product portfolios and will realize the importance of digital presence and tools in expanding their market reach and revenue.
The online B2B platforms are also focusing on implementing long terms changes which would be focused towards fundamental changes in the platforms from selectively dividing the on-boarded MSMEs to offer better services which are customised to their requirements to inculcating new services which would become the part of a broader business enablement services and less focus on just providing a vendor discovery platforms. AI and Deep Learning Algorithms could be introduced in platforms to better project market and consumer trends and to help in better risk mitigation with respect to business fluctuations. Also government initiatives such as Digital MSME ICT Initiative which supports SMEs to adopt cloud computing which is a cost effective alternative to in-house IT infrastructure encouraging them to optimize their processes and bring a large part of their value chain including procurement and selling to online channel which will further deepen the importance of online B2B platforms in the coming years in India.
Also as per the new government initiative called ‘Aatmanirbhar, government has planned several initiatives such as INR 3 lakh crore collateral free automatic loans for businesses including MSME’s, INR 20,000 crores as subordinate debt provision for stressed MSME’s, INR 50,000 crore equity infusion through funds of funds and more focus on local products. All these initiatives will boost the growth of MSME sector in India and will positively impact the growth of online B2B platforms in the country.
For More Information on the research report, refer to below link:-
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications