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Shifting Small Businesses To Digital World
There has been an exponential increase in the number of MSMEs who have begun digitising their businesses, said Swaminathan
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Following the e-commerce boom, many people who showed some resistance towards selling online have now become advocates of e-commerce, said Lakshminarayan Swaminathan, CXO, Supply Growth, Meesho in an interview with BW Businessworld. Edited Excerpts:
Tell us about Meesho and how it is empowering small and medium businesses in India.
To support the small business economy in our country, Meesho has built a robust platform to help small businesses grow and succeed online. Selling on Meesho is very simple and straightforward, and hence a huge number of sellers who earlier found it difficult to sell online have been able to come onboard on Meesho and achieve success and growth.
With our industry-first initiatives such as zero commission and zero penalties, an increasing number of MSMEs have chosen to partner with us. Meesho presently has over 7.25 lakh sellers on the platform, nearly half of whom are unique to the platform. On average, sellers on Meesho have seen their business grow by 82 per cent within two years.
What are the major strategies that small businesses should adopt to achieve success through digital space?
For businesses that are beginning their journey on e-commerce or existing businesses that are looking to expand, key pointers to keep in mind include:
Set a low margin in the beginning so that customers get great value for money. Strive to optimise costs to keep product pricing very competitive to sustain growth
Follow market trends meticulously, explore upcoming categories and products, try to identify gaps in the market to maximise returns
Customer experience is very important to sustain a growing business online - so build the right operational capabilities and rigour e.g. right packaging and quick dispatch
Focus on product quality and ensure you are providing the right value for the price you are charging. Meticulously follow and incorporate feedback from customer ratings and reviews
What are the major changes you witnessed in the post-Covid-19 pandemic, as far as businesses are concerned?
During Covid, when everything started to shut down, for many sellers and entrepreneurs adoption of this online path acted as a boon, which in turn helped them earn their livelihoods.
Following the e-commerce boom, many people who showed some resistance to selling online have now become advocates of e-commerce, saying it’s the need of the hour. There has been an exponential increase in the number of MSMEs who have begun digitising their businesses.
Over time, these small businesses have realised how Meesho can help them tap an enormous market and customer base of over 100 million customers rather than stay confined to the small customer base in their local catchments.
How can SMEs become the main drivers of the country's growth post-Covid-19?
Programmes like Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat are aimed at making India a global manufacturing hub. As per estimates from the World Bank, SMEs account for around 80 per cent of India’s overall industrial ecosystem. To tackle this how we suggest a three-pronged approach
Always having a customer-first approach,
Staying updated and ahead of market trends, and
Managing cash flows effectively
We believe there is a great entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen in the small business owners across the country, but there weren’t enough opportunities so far to give wings to their aspirations. That is the bridge we continuously strive to be, helping them bring their business online and succeed in a big way.
What are the major opportunities your company provides to rural communities?
What makes Meesho truly different from other e-commerce platforms is the company’s mission: to democratise internet commerce for everybody. Meesho is focused on giving everyone an equal opportunity through its platform. Within Meesho’s ecosystem, we have three important partners playing vital roles. First is our sellers. For them, we aim to build a channel that has the lowest cost, i.e. the sellers on Meesho pay zero commission and penalties to us, so that they can pass on the best prices and value possible to consumers
What are the challenges you have faced in the last two years?
With an estimated 5 crore plus MSMEs currently unable to sell their products online due to compulsory GST requirements, the council’s move to relax GST registration norms is a game-changer for us. It will be an enabler for millions of small businesses including artisans, boutiques and mom & pop stores. Meesho is committed to this because of building a digital ecosystem for MSMEs. Bringing parity between offline and online sellers will be key to making this happen.
What can be expected from your company in 2022?
We aim to reach a total of 150 million transacting users by the end of this year and digitise 100 million MSMEs in India. There are millions of people in tier 3 and tier 4 cities who don’t transact online yet. Our aim is to bring these potential customers into the e-commerce fold.