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Emerging Trends In The E-Commerce Sector After Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative
Major e-commerce sites such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal have been asked to display the ‘Country of Origin’ for products on their platforms.
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The world has seen a major upheaval in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought to the forefront vulnerabilities of many nations worldwide which is largely due to their economic and technological interdependence, particularly of those with higher trade imbalances.
Being a major importer and consumer of raw materials as well as finished goods, India too found itself in a challenging situation amidst the pandemic, with global imports coming to a grinding halt. We however saw an opportunity in the face of this adversity and decided to work towards becoming self-reliant, as much as possible.
Self-reliance, as a concept, is not alien to India as it can be traced way back to the landmark Swadeshi movement launched in 1905, much before India got its independence from the British rule. As a country, we have always strongly stood for self-reliance and when engulfed in a pandemic, we realised it was time to go vocal for local again. The government has since laid emphasis on being ‘atmanirbhar’ and has been striving towards paving the way for a self-reliant India, whether it is in terms of supporting local businesses or consuming local produces.
Many initiatives and reformations have been undertaken since then to help India not only become self- dependent but also become an even stronger contributor to the global economy. For instance, India’s PPE industry grew to ₹7,000 crore from 0 in March, second largest after China. The largest social initiative fund worth ₹21,000 crore in the country was set up by the IIT Alumni Council. India’s own 5G network was announced by Reliance Jio, and other reforms in labour, agriculture and mining industries were also laid out.
The Foundation of India’s ‘Vocal for Local’ Initiative
To further the ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative, the government announced a financial package of 20 lakh crore, equalling to 10% of the national GDP. This in turn, initiated slogans like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Swadesi’ ‘Make for World’, etc. and led to imposing curbs on Chinese imports like pharmaceuticals and electronic goods, toys, furniture, plastics, sports goods, etc.
This was a bold move made in favour of local brands as China so far accounts for 14 percent of India’s imports. The boycott has been a catalyst in reforming and benefitting various segments including cottage industry, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), labourers, middle class, and other industries, as well.
The pandemic led India to manufacture sufficient PPE kits, N95 masks, and IVD (in vitro diagnostic) kits. It also helped Indian brands flourish and strengthened the position of indigenous goods in other categories like fashion, jewellery, footwear, online education, and beauty among others.
A package of 3 lakh crore was also announced by the government to provide collateral-free automatic loans for the MSMEs. This alone could help in bringing about several changes in the economy. For example, mass-scale employment, decreasing the country’s dependence on other countries for imports, increase of fin-tech companies as there is a shift towards online payments, and more.
Cotton, leather, toy-making, wood making, honey processing, are few among the many small-scale businesses that can sustain and grow under this campaign. Many Indian personal care and beauty brands have already made their mark by providing the Indian audience with face masks, sanitizers, Ayurvedic immunity boosters, etc. Consumers are engaging in wellness activities and self-care with their focus being on natural and organic products more than ever.
Swadeshi Movement Opening a Wide Opportunity for Desi Brands
Innovation, new trends in manufacturing, and satisfying an international appeal are instilling the idea that local can not only satisfy the Indian markets but compete on a global level, as well. Brands like Khadi, Mamaearth, Patanjali, Beardo, Parle, Blackberrys, Metro Shoes, and many more are understanding customer behaviour and preferences in order to position themselves as market leaders. The audience’s allegiance is also slowly shifting towards homegrown brands and MSME’s are finally grabbing the spotlight due to this movement. The most recently launched Khadi e-market has also quickly established itself with a pan-India reach. It has a list of products like hand-woven muslin, silk, herbal cosmetics, medicines, and soaps. This is a push towards the Swadesi movement and aims to empower local artisans. The support of local communities is an imperative factor for local brands to maximize their potential.
Emerging Trends in The E-commerce Space
According to a report by IBEF.org, India is the fastest growing e-commerce market and is expected to reach USD 84 billion by 2021. This ecosystem is not only supported by favourable FDI policies, attractive opportunities, and increasing investments, but also by a consistent increase in internet and smartphone penetration. Initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, and Startup India have also contributed majorly to online trade.
Major e-commerce sites such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal have been asked to display the ‘Country of Origin’ for products on their platforms. The ethnicity of brands not only makes them popular in the local market, but also helps them signify their global valuation.
Local brands, including Dabur, Himalaya, Lotus, and Amul, have taken over social media to be ‘proudly Indian’. Consumers on the other hand, are leaning towards the ‘Make in India’ ethos with pride. With the ban on many Chinese apps, homegrown alternatives like Roposo, ShareChat, etc. have also acquired users, although building a good ecosystem might still be time consuming.
Willingness of brands to customize their products for different segments of customers will play an important role. Today’s customer is ready to support local products, but they want products built to their needs. Some local ethnic clothing brands are already learning to adjust their products as per customers’ requirement.
Local brands that want to increase their customer reach are gradually partnering with other businesses including performance marketing channels like CashKaro, non-competitive e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Ajio, and other sorts of aggregators. These business partners are also helping swadeshi brands build a brand image so that customers remember what their brand stands for.
With online presence, a faster and more targeted response time, customer satisfaction, affiliate networks, and reasonable discounts and offers, these small players can win over local consumers. Thus, any attribute that assures consumer satisfaction and safety can help smaller brands increase their appetite for localism and gain a strong userbase in the Atmanirbhar India ecosystem.
Bridging the Gap Between Offline and Online Marketplace
E-commerce has stirred a major revolution in the retail industry. While a tiff is being seen in the physical and digital spaces, the long-term strategy is to integrate physical and digital worlds to give the best of both worlds to the people. Post-Covid, a customer’s journey would tilt towards a digital-first approach, which will of course sky-rocket businesses of websites such as Amazon, Flipkart, and other affiliate channels. While other factors such as the 1% TDS will impact e-tailers, consumers can only expect the best for them when it comes to competitive pricing and freedom of choice.
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.