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B2B E-commerce: Scripting A New Tale Of Success For Indian SMEs

The e-commerce platforms have successfully eliminated the role of middlemen, thus allowing buying and selling of goods at competitive prices

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B2B e-commerce was a nascent and little known sphere till two years ago. Soon, however, stories of how B2B e-commerce is a more capital efficient business started taking centre-stage. As the spotlight turned on how e-commerce ventures in other verticals were struggling to stay afloat, it became amply clear that online B2B players had truly tapped a gold mine of opportunity.

For years, Indian SMEs struggled with roadblocks on their paths to success. Despite the fact that a large number of business entities in the country come under this segment, there was little to no provision to help them realise their full potential. Interference from middlemen, opaque pricing of business goods, poor accessibility, inability to market to potential clients were just some of the issues that plagued this sector. These loopholes are now being plugged gradually with the advent of B2B e-commerce platforms in the country. Smarter technology has helped small and medium enterprisesto explore ample opportunities with the help of the Internet.

Convenience of easy payments, wide product assortments, door step delivery and security of doing business online have made B2B e-commerce websites a much sought-after channel of sales and purchases for many big and small firms. The e-commerce platforms have successfully eliminated the role of middlemen, thus allowing buying and selling of goods at competitive prices. They aggregate demand and supply from the highly fragmented section of buyers and sellers and enable small and medium organisations to book orders without spending extra resources.B2B e-commerce players have also enhanced the orbit of reach for sellers of business goods.Many SMEs are now relying on e-commerce platforms to expand their presence, both in the domestic and global markets.

For instance, a manufacturing company in Gujarat can now easily receive orders from a company in Andhra Pradesh with the help of e-commerce sites sans any involvement of the sales team. These sites are interactive and buyers can choose from a wide range of products with specifications listed on the website. There is ease and efficiency in doing businesses on the web, which has been a major driver for accelerated growth of B2B e-commerce marketplaces.

What has nudged SMEs to further embrace the B2B e-commerce route is the fact that many of their traditional needs are now being addressed in modern ways.SMEs in India are used to relying on credit facilities from their business partners and for a long time believed that this merit of the physical format could not be replicated online. However, B2B e-commerce players are satisfying this need of SMEs as well with facilities such as 'Buy now, pay later'. Besides enhancing the efficiency of SMEs, such services also help build a greater sense of trust between the business and their e-commerce partner of choice.

An emphasis on customer experience, in fact, has also helped B2B players pirouette to the top of the list of SMEs'preferred business transactions platforms. Leaders in the space are pulling all strings to be available across touchpoints where buyers and sellers are present and are most comfortable interacting. Many take ownership of the entire process of buying and selling and assist customers with various aspects of their transactional experience. They arrange storage and dispatch of products by enlisting the services of warehousing partners which benefits sellers tremendously. The guaranteed dispatch from the company provides added assurance of speed and reliability to the buyer.

A recent report by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP has revealed that the B2B e-commerce segment in India will double from $300 billion in 2014 to $700 billion in 2020. With B2B e-commerce advancing its presence on the Internet, the segment is poised for stellar growth in the days to come. With an enhanced emphasis on customer experience, increasing pan-India penetration, gradually evolving brand awareness and increasing tech penetration in the country, the B2B e-commerce segment is all set to emerge as one of the most significant economic sectors of the country. It is well on its way to further boost growth for the vibrant and promising SME businesses in India and cementing their position as the veritable backbone of the economy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Brijesh Agrawal

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