With e-commerce exports, it’s high season all year round
Ask any entrepreneur among your friends and family what the most important time of the year is. Invariably, the answer lies around Diwali. This is the time when many business families begin their new year. In fact, the weeks leading up to Diwali see multiple festivals in different Indian states marked by an increase in consumption. The 80-20 rule comes into play when entrepreneurs often do 80% of their annual business in 20% of the year (about two months starting with Raksha Bandhan and ending with Diwali). The period is associated with bonuses, gift exchanges and renovations, which also contribute to increased consumption. No wonder peak seasons like Diwali matter; they can make or break the look of the year for an entrepreneur.
Until a few years ago Indian entrepreneurs worked on a Diwali-to-Diwali cycle. So the post-Diwali phase would mean starting with plans for the next Diwali. However, e-commerce and, more importantly, e-commerce exports have meant that just after Diwali, businesses start preparing for the festive season in Europe and North America, followed by peak shopping seasons in Middle East, APAC and Australia. Somehow, a peak season from two years ago is now giving way to multiple peaks throughout the year with festivals like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and more.
How e-commerce exports provide Indian companies with a springboard for global success
Exporting to India was traditionally a B2B phenomenon where companies outsourced manufacturing for brands around the world. The scale and complexity of the business also meant that only a select few were involved in this area. But things have changed drastically with the advent of a faster internet, the emergence of global e-commerce marketplaces, and the easy availability of digital marketing tools and technologies. All of this has made it much easier for entrepreneurs to directly connect with end customers without having any presence outside of India. We are already seeing businesses of all sizes leveraging e-commerce to experiment with new markets, tailor their products to customers based on diverse customer preferences, and do so under their own brand. According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, the global e-commerce market could grow from $3.3 trillion currently to $5.4 trillion in 2026. This represents a vast stage for Indian sellers to realize the global opportunity in booming.
What should Indian entrepreneurs do to exploit this opportunity?
So the question arises, “What should Indian entrepreneurs do to prepare for this new way of doing business? The answer is simple but multiple:
- Putting the customer at the center: Customer experience matters. It counts everywhere. In so many years of serving customers, we’ve learned that they want three things: selection means great products, value means great prices, and convenience means fast, reliable delivery. So, as an entrepreneur, your number one goal should be to ensure your customers have a great experience every time, especially when they’re shopping for a gift for their loved ones.
- Leave the heavy lifting to the experts: Selling cross-border can be complex, but enough resources are available today to plan ahead of buying peaks. It becomes easier to leave some of the heavy lifting of inventory planning, logistics and payments etc. to people who have expertise in the field, while you can focus on your product. For example, e-commerce marketplaces and even service providers can help with demand forecasting, inventory planning and deployment assistance, advertising and marketing services. So you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
- Be prepared for surprise use cases: Customers buy different types of products or for different reasons. For example, Indian linens are a big hit in the West, but not for their intended purpose. They are more popular as throws and tapestries. Another interesting example would be how the rich, authentic flavor of “shudh ghee” (clarified butter) is now enjoyed by coffee connoisseurs around the world as a supplement to enhance coffee blends.
- There is more than one Diwali: Each market has different peak seasons, so it’s important to track and adjust your operations accordingly. And while multiple peaks help entrepreneurs accelerate their business by serving a much larger customer base, they also help entrepreneurs protect their business from disruption or a dark season in one or two markets. We have also seen this happen during the pandemic, where entrepreneurs in our export program who had exposure to multiple markets managed to maintain and grow their businesses despite disruptions in some markets.
A new dawn on the horizon
The convergence of “Make in India”, “Digital India” and a growing number of online buyers across the world are great levers for Indian entrepreneurs to accelerate their business beyond the festival season in India. . The government has also announced programs such as Gati Shakti and other capacity building measures such as “Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance” (RAMP) and “Capacity Building of First-Time MSME Exporters” (CBFTE) which will further help Indian MSMEs to become more future ready. . Technology is a great leveler on many levels and now is the time for India to leverage technology to create a level playing field for Indian businesses to compete globally. It is estimated that there are nearly 2 billion online shoppers worldwide today and technology-enabled e-commerce exports will be key to enabling access to this customer base. E-commerce helps remove several friction points and complexities in export business regarding market access, data information, cross-border payments and logistics. The numbers speak for themselves.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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