Consumer and market trends
Consumer and market trends

E-commerce: Fostering B2B Growth 

India’s e-commerce industry witnessed phenomenal growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic induced disruptions and restrictions on movements amid several lockdowns…

On July 11, 2022

India’s e-commerce industry, which has consistently been on an upward trajectory since the last few years, witnessed phenomenal growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic induced disruptions and restrictions on movements amid several lockdowns across the country. This crisis accelerated the expansion of e-commerce towards new players, new consumers and shift in transactions from luxury goods and services to everyday necessities.

While the large players like Amazon and home-grown brand Flipkart continued to have a dominant share in the US$ 50+ billion industry, firms like Tata Cliq, Reliance-owned AJIO, Myntra, Snapdeal, Frazzo, JioMart, among others managed to create a market for themselves in the e-commerce space.

The pandemic not only provided customers access to a variety of products from the convenience of their homes, but also enabled firms to continue operations in spite of contact restrictions.

E-commerce: A saviour for B2B industry amid crisis

Earlier, e-commerce was never seen as a part of the long-term business strategy by manufacturers and distributors. They were heavily dependent on the traditional channels for reaching out to their customers. It is only in the last few years that B2B companies have started thinking of e-commerce differently.

One of the positives of the Covid-19 crisis was that manufacturers and distributors or even the small kirana store operators got a wider market, thanks to the e-commerce boom.

During the initial phase of the pandemic, economic activities had come to almost a standstill due to the restrictions on movements. E-commerce platforms came to the rescue of the B2B players as they could list their products online. It not only provided them an opportunity to sell their inventories online, but also gave them a wider reach to regions where they would not have been able to reach through the traditional channels.

Digitisation driving efficiencies

Internet penetration, availability of smart devices and growing awareness about the use of technology has driven the e-commerce sector. The growing dependence on the online platforms has forced businesses to adapt to the changing business environment and shift their focus onto digital transformation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced B2B players to go digital in a massive way. What started as a response to the global crisis has now become the new normal. Besides, it has realised the importance of digitalisation in improving business efficiencies. 

Digitisation has not just simplified the onboarding processes and receiving of orders, but B2B players can now understand the demand pattern, manage supplies, understanding the pull and push strategy, tracking the shipment, receiving payments online and even manage returns. While buyers get to see the products on the go, for suppliers, the push notifications help the sellers to easily engage buyers with new products and offers.

Ease of payment: e-commerce

In order to ensure ease of payments for both the supplier and buyer, e-commerce players are introducing digital wallets, virtual credit and debit cards, QR codes and other forms of touchless transactions.  

Besides, B2B e-commerce players are also adopting cloud technology and cloud-based commerce networks to onboard millions of shoppers and sellers on their platforms. Amazon has launched its cloud computing service Amazon Web Services (AWS), while Flipkart has tied up with Google Cloud to maintain large scale data.

Need to build a robust supply chain mechanism

While the demand is massive, there is a need to ensure that the supply chain ecosystem is also robust. Right from assessing the supply and demand scenario to providing an efficient warehousing as per the requirements of the clients to inventory tracking, order entry, order management to distribution, delivery, and returns, the onus largely lies on the e-commerce platforms. 

With consumers making omnichannel ecosystem as a part of their lifestyle, it becomes important for e-commerce players to create a seamless customer journey to generate recurring sales. In such a scenario, partnering with the right logistics services provider to ensure last mile delivery of products and even managing returns, if needed, becomes all the more essential. 

With supply chain management becoming an important aspect in the logistics sector, industry players are also moving from the traditional formats to becoming end-to-end solutions providers. E-commerce players are also entering into strategic tie-ups with third party logistics or 3PL players having an efficient infrastructure, including warehousing facilities, fleet for delivery, etc., with pan-India presence.

Outlook ecommerce

India’s e-commerce market is poised to grow exponentially in the next few years. According to the estimates of IBEF, the industry is expected to touch US$ 188 billion by 2025 from US$ 46.2 billion as of 2020. This will not just drive the demand for having an effective supply chain management mechanism but it will also reduce fragmentation in the market with companies actively merging and consolidating to get the benefits of economies of scale.

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