Exports Through E-commerce Experience: A 2 X Surge for Indian Trader Community

The Dialogue, a Delhi based public-policy think-tank hosted an online discussion on “Make in India for the World – The revival of the Indian economy and the role of MSMEs” on 3rd June, 2020.

As the country is going through an economic crisis, it is important to turn to a strong pillar i.e., Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to show us a path of recovery from the current pandemic induced downfall. It is for the first time in a long while that the exports from India have declined, however sellers who are engaged in exports through e-commerce experienced a positive surge. The webinar while showcasing the opportunities on e-commerce to the sellers also dwelled on how it could play a crucial role in increasing their businesses and ultimately help revive the economy. It is important to facilitate exports through different avenues and through e-commerce which would prove to be beneficial in this aspect.

The session moderated by Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director, The Dialogue was presided over by Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Dr. Amar Patnaik, as the Chief Guest at the Webinar.

It also had eminent thought leaders like Mr. Gopal Jain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Nirupama Soundarajan, Economist – Senior Fellow and Head of Research, Pahle India Foundation, Dr. Avik Sarkar, Professor, Indian School of Business, Dhvanil Sheth, Founder & CEO, Skillmatics and Pratik Jain, Managing Director, Madan Mohan Textiles.

Dr. Amar Patnaik, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha noted that in terms of exports, India plays a key role in the IT and AI markets with its vast intellectual capability. MSMEs could play a crucial role in gaining prominence in the current geo-political scenario, where there is a major push to shift  production from China. He noted that if India is successful in creating an ecosystem, it will drive investments and provide a fertile ground to enhance our exports. He spoke on the need to ensure last mile delivery of policies that encourage exports, and noted that there is a need to enhance liquidity to MSMES on the production side along with improved marketing side support to enhance growth.

“Indian MSMEs have a vast potential to cater to the demands of the world. However, there is a need to promote Indian made products. I believe that e-commerce could play a crucial role in the promotion as well as enhancing its capacity to export Indian products that can cater to the rest of the world.” said Kazim Rizvi

Dhvanil Sheth, Founder and CEO, Skillmatics noted that “Exports through e-commerce help us to get instant feedback on our products while removing various intermediaries that exist during the normal export and thereby reducing our cost as well. Ecommerce platforms have supported us to widen our reach and deliver our products to the consumers sitting abroad. We have to believe in the Indian entrepreneurial spirit.  If all systems work seamlessly it provides us with a tremendous opportunity to move the global appetite away from China.”

Nirupama Soundarajan, Economist – Senior Fellow and Head of Research, Pahle India Foundation noted that it is important to link FDI to exports rather than emphasising on the need to source locally. If FDI is linked to exports, local sourcing will automatically receive a boost. Further, it is important to look at e-commerce and retailers as “engines of growth”. The instant feedback mechanism and the fact that it removes informational barriers makes exports through e-commerce much more feasible for the MSMEs.

The discussion provided insights on the role of MSMEs in the revival of the economy and how export through e-commerce could play a key role here. The panel discussed aspects of technological enablement of MSME in order to increase their manufacturing capacity as well as enhancing the customer base.

“There is a need to support the right regulatory culture to enhance exports through ecommerce from our country. We have to make significant changes in our approach to become an attractive export destination and e-commerce could play a very crucial role in that. Further, it is important that technology has a legal framework to support it in order to maximise the outputs and reduce the barriers.”  said Gopal Jain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India

“Labour reforms and certifications are really important for the development of workers. Skill development is very crucial for building the base and it will help us in the long run” said Avik Sarkar, Professor ISB

“There is inadequate representation of MSME in the decision making process. MSMEs could significantly contribute to these discussions and inform the government about the issues faced by us” said Pratik Jain, Managing Director, Madan Mohan Textiles. He added, “We have ourselves seen the benefits of adopting the ecommerce route for exports.”

The speakers agreed that e-commerce could play a critical role in enhancing the reach of the products made in India by the MSMEs. This would help in consumption of more products and increase in the demand thereby enhancing the manufacturing capacity of the MSMEs. In order to revive the economy, it is important to widen the reach of Indian products manufactured by the MSMEs.

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