E-commerce Opportunities Set to Grow for SMEs Under the ‘New Normal’
E-commerce Opportunities Set to Grow for SMEs Under the ‘New Normal’

Both small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers agree that there’s room for further growth in the already booming e-commerce sector. 83 percent of Indian consumers have purchased more from e-commerce platforms in the last three years and this momentum is likely to continue.                                                                                                             

The latest e-commerce trends from The What’s Next in E-Commerce survey commissioned by FedEx Express reveal that consumers are looking for innovations in personalization, shoppertainment and payment options that enhance their experience and at the same time, make it easier to discover new brands and make purchasing convenient.

With plenty of shopping festivals on the calendar, consumers are looking for more seasonal offers. The research shows there is plenty of fertile ground for e-tailers to experiment with new approaches that can help build their customer base.

COVID has accelerated our lifestyles to a pivot point where shopping online has been normalized across all demographics, and there’s no going back. With that, e-commerce is set to take a growing proportion of total consumer spend,” said Kawal Preet, President-Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA), FedEx Express.

He further added, “With more people shopping online consumer preferences are becoming increasingly sophisticated. As SMEs and e-merchants evolve their online sales platforms, our research uncovers opportunities for businesses to capitalize on what consumers want.”

According to Kawal Preet, customer experience is the driving force behind how e-tailers engage with their customers and how we are innovating our shipping solutions. With an expanded portfolio specially developed for e-commerce businesses, FedEx is well positioned to support the changing expectations of consumers and the continuation of e-commerce growth.

The pandemic has hot-housed e-commerce growth across the AMEA region, consumers in India are much more likely than those in other AMEA markets to forecast future growth in e-commerce, with marketplaces becoming increasingly influential.

The majority of Indian SMEs believe that they are well positioned to reap benefits.

“SMEs are the growth engines of the Indian economy. During the pandemic, the e-commerce sector provided many SMEs with an opportunity to recover and expand their business. Today, cross-border trade has emerged as a key business priority for SMEs in India and a major opportunity to bolster growth. FedEx enables SMEs to reach their full potential by connecting them to a world of possibilities through the strength of our global network, tailored solutions, and value-added services,” said Kami Viswanathan, senior vice president, of FedEx Express Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Africa Operations.

  • The E-commerce sector matures but further growth ahead

The Asia Pacific which includes the world’s biggest e-commerce markets like India, Mainland China, Japan, and Korea, will see revenue from e-commerce sales reach $2.09 trillion this year as 57 percent of the region’s population shops online.

Both SMEs and consumers in AMEA are maturing in their use of e-commerce and both groups agree that the pandemic-driven utilization of e-commerce is here to stay.

Eight in ten SMEs believe e-commerce will become more important in their business in the next three years and nine in ten believe they are well prepared for the challenge.

80 percent of consumers reported that e-commerce had taken a greater share of their total purchases over the past three years while 71 percent see further increases ahead.

SMEs in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam were among the most optimistic about their future e-commerce growth in the next three years. E-commerce currently represents less than 6 percent of total retail sales in each of these markets.

In India, 80 percent of SMEs agree that consumer buying behavior has fundamentally changed due to COVID and most of them predict e-commerce will continue to boom, and be integral to their business growth over the next three years.

93 percent of SMEs believe they are well positioned to capitalize on this growth.

Two-thirds of Indian consumers purchase items exclusively through Marketplaces. Whilst the importance of Marketplaces is clear, it’s worth noting that 58 percent of SMEs currently sell directly to customers through their own e-commerce platforms.

  • Expectation mismatch on service experience touchpoints

As more consumers participate in the on-demand economy and increasing shipment volumes put pressure on e-tailers, maintaining customer service quality is critical.

The survey data reveals a significant 10 percent gap between how SMEs rate their own e-commerce customer experience and how consumers view it.

The biggest gaps appeared in having an efficient returns service (13 percent) and access to customer support (11 percent) in the AMEA region.

Deliveries taking too long is the number one pain consumer point (53 percent) followed by handling returns (42 percent).

Consumers typically expect delivery within three days to one week, but there is a desire for delivery to be at least more reliable if not faster.

  • Too few experienced people for too many jobs

65 percent of e-tailers in AMEA reported they were struggling to handle the growing number of orders they were receiving.

In India, 80 percent of SMEs had experienced extremely high levels of resignations over the past 12 months as the global Great Resignation phenomenon has impacted the region.

71 percent believed there were too few people for too many jobs with e-commerce marketing and sales experience being most in demand, followed by logistics roles.

Apart from India, SMEs in Thailand, and Vietnam has been most affected by the talent challenge and therefore SMEs in these three markets are most likely to be receptive to support from logistics providers, to make day-to-day, repetitive shipping tasks simpler with easy-to-use tools.

  • Logistics providers are here to support

FedEx is supporting the future growth of e-commerce across AMEA with a dual focus on meeting the needs of e-tailers and their end consumers.

For e-tailers, FedEx provides simple, streamlined solutions which make order fulfillment easier.

While for the end-consumer the priority is to provide speedy, reliable, trackable delivery, that enhances the overall service experience.

FedEx is integrating its services with e-commerce marketplaces so e-tailers can generate shipping labels and use additional features, such as express shipping services and international shipping documentation services, without leaving the platforms.

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