SMB businesses have had some respite in the past few months, post the challenges of the pandemic. However, MSMEs continue to adopt online sale, and are continuing to switching to the digital approach to selling, primarily because of the ease of doing business online, given the advanced use of technology in ecommerce today, and the cost effectiveness of the same. Overall sales with online retail have gone up drastically over the past few years. According to industry reports, online sales comprise 27% of total MSMEs sales. The rise in digital commerce can be attributed to the changing shopping habits of online consumers after the pandemic. Additionally, over the past years, the government has been proactively pursuing policies to assist MSMEs to go digital.
With rapid digital transformation and further acceleration by the pandemic, businesses need to be dynamic and open to change. In this regard, some of the technologies that will play a pivotal role in driving business transformation in the months to come, in the e-commerce sector, include:
Full Stack Data Platforms that will rise as businesses’ data stack is set to transform with the rise in solutions that help build the entire data stack, all the way from data collection and tracking to data storage and from analytical dashboards to machine learning models.
Customized Machine learning Solutions will help companies that build specialist ready-to-use solutions to solve niche and very specific problems. Machine Learning APIs will enhance e-commerce images, detect e-commerce fraud, generate content automatically, and provide personalised recommendations.
Fintech APIs will make it easier for API infrastructure to plug into complex banking and financial systems that could power onboarding, lending and account management. Several companies started in this space in 2021 and could see widespread adoption by new-age companies to build innovative products on top of these APIs.
Advertising Optimisation will help optimise digital advertising across a plethora of channels such as Facebook and Snapchat will transform businesses by helping optimise their advertising RoI at scale by automated suggestions and actions, as well as automated creative generation and experimental testing.
Top trends that will shape the future SMBs in India
Digitisation: Ecommerce adoption has expanded with the pandemic. To maintain social distancing digital transactions have replaced cash. Small agencies are using e-invoice and online payment methods to collect payment. They are also availing video calling option to showcase their product to build trust. Such a scenario has made SMBs revamp their models and adopt technologies for effectively reaching out to customers.
Availing government initiatives: Small businesses may have a limited contribution to the country’s economy, however they do form a significant source of employment for many. This is why such companies are incentivised by government schemes such as Vocal for Local, Make in India, and Startup India.
Using new tools for marketing: Traditional time and space boundaries have been significantly reduced with the rapid boom of technology and the availability of the internet to a large part of the population. Businesses are progressively learning to enhance their online presence with the aid of creating an optimised website, CRM, WhatsApp for Business, listing in the B2B marketplace, and actively responding to client queries.
Social media will continue to be on top: According to a recent marketing report, 96 per cent of SMBs are using social media in their marketing approach. Facebook, specifically, is useful in terms of Facebook Ads and the platforms’ reach. To assist small and medium businesses to get a better global reach, last year the platform introduced functions and features like multi-country lookalike audiences, dynamic language optimizations, multi-city targeting, and cross-border insights finder. This trend will continue to grow with small and medium business owners continuing to work on what’s working and additionally, exploring new areas.
Opportunity comes with challenges, SMBs that wish to embrace digitization may also face some of the challenges like lack of understanding of how technology helps, cost of technology adoption also growing concerns around data privacy and exposure to digital fraud.
Although MSMEs adopted digitalisation to fight the pandemic, they are now thriving — an increase in customer base, improvement in operational efficiency, improvement in risk management, innovation, and fewer manpower requirements.
Ecommerce has served as a possibility rather than a challenge for the majority of MSMEs in India. And this trend is set to grow exponentially in the years ahead. The question is, how one can keep up with the trend and what will be one need to achieve growth?
To beat the competition and retain your customers, having own online store is the way to go. To stand out from the crowd of emerging ecommerce businesses is to build a sustainable brand for yourself.
The article has been written by Ankur Sharma, Chief of Growth and Data and Co-founder, Instamojo