E-commerce giants are taking advantage of the government’s Make in India initiative to gain a foothold in rural markets and expand their business base.
New companies like Paytm, Snapdeal, Shopclues and Askme have started several projects under the scheme. As many as 60,000 Indian handicraft sellers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have joined these portals in recent months.
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“Supporting such schemes helps e-commerce businesses expand their merchant base as well as capture the rural market,” said Amarjeet Singh, Partner – Tax, KPMG India. “SMEs are making good products, but financing is still a problem. E-commerce companies are solving this by helping with loan schemes.”
Last year, startups tried to cash in on the Digital India initiative. This year the focus has been on Make in India. Paytm, which has been trying to promote its market, plans to add around 5,000 Indian manufacturers and sellers this year. The company has launched programs like Paytm Force and PaytmGoBig Partners to identify and train new sellers.
Sudhanshu Gupta, Vice President of Paytm, said: “Through our own drive to support Make in India products, we have been able to build a relationship with manufacturers from diverse backgrounds, ranging from manufacturers supplying large global brands to self-help groups of Maharashtra who provide income to 100 small households by selling their handicrafts/products online.”
Companies are also partnering with various ministries. Snapdeal, for example, has partnered with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology to train small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in digital marketing. “We are also working closely with manufacturers and brands to help them tailor their offerings to the Indian market based on intelligence gathered through data analytics. We enable them to plan production runs based on forecasts of predictive demand and customize their products to target specific consumer segments,” said Rajnish Wahi, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications at Snapdeal.
Companies have even started Make in India themed verticals to promote and add more sellers to their portals. “The basic premise of IndiMarket or the former National Retail Heritage was to provide consumers with a traditional bazaar-like shopping experience. With this in mind, IndiMarket has a large collection of authentic ethnic products,” said Nitin Kochhar, Vice President of Shopclues categories. . AskMePay, the payment initiative of the AskMe group, launched AskmeFin, a scheme to help sellers obtain loans easily. The loans on offer range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 crore and will be available for as little as 15 days or up to six months. “In addition to this, we offer financing, marketing, logistics and payments to sellers on our portal,” said Kiran Murthi, CEO of Askmebazaar.com.