FIRST India Summit addresses e-commerce growth, digital transformation, fallback liability concerns

The experts underscored the benefits of integrating digital tools for MSMEs, enabling them to enhance customer reach, explore new markets, and fuel growth

FIRST India summit on e-commerce digital transformation

The Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers & Traders (FIRST), an arm of India SME Forum (ISF), a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation for small and medium enterprises, held the Bengaluru edition of the ‘Future Proofing of Indian Enterprises’, a multicity summit series, on 22nd August 2023.

The summit saw participation by more than 150 entrepreneurs and over 20 Associations which included Federation of Karnataka Traders Association, Federation of All India Vyapaar Mandal, Karnataka Pharma Retailers & Distributors Organisation, among others.

A panel discussion on ‘Reimagining Customers, Embracing the Digital Revolution, and Building Supply Chain Resiliency for MSMEs’ highlighted the significance of e-commerce in modern business and encouraged a positive adoption approach, reframing it from competition to opportunity.

The experts underscored the benefits of integrating digital tools for MSMEs, enabling them to enhance customer reach, explore new markets, and fuel growth. The discussions delved into successful utilisation of diverse marketplaces through strategic digital solutions Notably, participants expressed curiosity and concern about the various changes that could happen with the upcoming e-commerce policy and if their businesses would be impacted.

A number of participants highlighted their apprehension due to the uncertainty presented by the upcoming e-commerce policy and the possible inclusion of fallback liability which could disproportionately affect smaller sellers and their onboarding onto marketplaces.

Vinod Kumar, President, India SME Forum stated, “With more than 67 per cent of the Indian population comprising of the working group of ages 15-45, who are earning and form the highest share in consumer buying habits trends, it is time that MSMEs approach this group as the focal point in their quest of gaining and retaining consumer attraction. This consumer group has gone digital in all their aspects of lifestyle and hence, MSMEs should see digital as the steppingstone in meeting the growth target of their enterprise and in understanding their target audiences needs and buying habits.”

He also added that “The introduction of fallback liability on marketplaces could effectively sideline smaller businesses from prominent platforms. This is because larger players would likely opt for sellers with impeccable track records, aiming to reduce their future liabilities.”

Sushma Morthania, Director General of India SME Forum also shared the different beneficial schemes curated by the Government of India such as the Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), ZED Scheme, Capacity Building of First Time MSE Exporters (CBFTE) & the opportunities available for micro and small enterprises through Government e-Marketplace (GeM) that has made a reservation for MSMEs, women entrepreneurs and SC&ST. She further highlighted the facility of reimbursements provided by the Government of India (GoI) for acquiring several quality certification & patents mandated for selling in international markets, that are presenting new avenues for the Indian MSMEs to become a part of the Global Value Chain (GVC).

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