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How India’s SMEs Are Using E-commerce To Stay Afloat

By FedEx | January 25, 2021

From national lockdowns to worldwide disruption, times have been tough for small businesses everywhere. In a global pandemic, India’s SMEs are doubling down on e-commerce to bounce back into business recovery.

Did you know that the national animal of India is the Bengal tiger? A fitting symbol for one of Asia’s true tiger economies! Our recent FedEx-commissioned report: India Small and Medium Enterprises Study reports that the SME sector currently contributes 30% to India’s GDP, and employs close to 110 million people - second only to agriculture. Sheer size, scale and the diversity of occupations means that Indian small businesses are a mighty force of economic power - the dynamic backbone of the Indian economy.

So how is this significant demographic faring during a pandemic? FedEx commissioned a survey to quiz India’s SMEs directly about how they’ve been coping with pandemic-led challenges.

Online – and onwards and upwards

The survey found that SMEs are actively adopting new technology and finding new ways of working to combat the challenges they face. But the real gamechanger lies with e-commerce.

After one of the largest ever community lockdowns – 1.3 billion people ordered to stay at home - many businesses across India are now open. However, with social distancing now the norm, people remain hesitant to step out of their homes. Naturally, the pandemic forced an evolution in the shopping behavior of consumers, who are now buying their everyday essentials online.

According to a report by Unicommerce, India’s e-commerce industry witnessed a 31% growth in order volume between July and September 2020.

A change in digital behavior – for buyers and sellers alike

COVID-19 has also been a catalyst for SMEs to prioritize their digitalization journey. Digital payments have consistently been the most preferred transaction modes of payment since the pandemic. Contactless, convenient, and widely accepted among businesses, India’s SMEs have been quick to pivot to e-payment portals.

A change in digital behavior – for buyers and sellers alike

84% of the SMEs we spoke to said they had adopted internet banking during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has also been a catalyst for SMEs to prioritize their digitalization journey. Digital payments have consistently been the most preferred transaction modes of payment since the pandemic. Contactless, convenient, and widely accepted among businesses, India’s SMEs have been quick to pivot to e-payment portals.

84% of the SMEs we spoke to said they had adopted internet banking during the pandemic.
84% of the SMEs we spoke to said they had adopted internet banking during the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, social media consumption has snowballed due to the pandemic. The average user now spends over 4 hours per day online since the lockdown began, compared to the 1.5 hours spent on social media per day in February 2020. Social platforms are becoming avenues of opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers.

Sure, technological advancements have been reshaping businesses over the last decade. But in the blink of an eye, COVID-19 has accelerated the need to harness digital technologies to sustain business growth. Luckily, it’s a lesson India’s SMEs have learned quickly.

Want to find out more about buyer behavior and how e-commerce is transforming business recovery for Indian SMEs – and small businesses everywhere? Check out the full report below:

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