How Can Offline ITMSMEs Move Online and Bypass Corona?

ITMSMEs have suffered from  Corona commercially. It has induced long periods of lockdown and even if lockdown is lifted, people are not willing to come out too much, for they know that the threat of Corona has not disappeared, even if the lockdown is lifted. It’s a great risk to move out and travel to physical stores. No amount of precautions is enough and nobody wants to take risks.

Online E-commerce is a very viable option to bypass this situation as people prefer to go online for products, services and solutions. Besides, online offers the convenience of connecting with the sellers an service providers, offers great prices and services and products are delivered at doorstep.

While sellers in most other segments have understood the importance of E-commerce, most ITMSMEs still are wary of going online. They prefer to stay in their comfort zone of opening their conventional physical stores and expect the customers to visit their stores for products, services and solutions.

However, Indian customers are tech-savvy and they no longer want to connect with the sellers offline. The IT manufacturers have understood this and they also directly want to sell to the end customers on E-commerce sites rather than encourage the offline ITMSMEs. Many of them are in fact, treating the resellers as end-customers. This has placed the offline sellers especially in a tight situation and they have been agitating against the E-commerce platforms.

This is counter-productive in many ways, as today’s world is meant for E-commerce, not for the physical stores. It is ironical that the ITMSMEs sell technology, but they don’t want to walk in-sync with the evolving technology.

Meanwhile, several indigenous options have cropped up which allow all small sellers, including the ITMSMEs to open E-stores and to do their business online.

Hardware Resellers

For hardware resellers it doesn’t make sense anymore to keep on selling products through physical stores. Almost all customers want to buy hardware online. Offline hardware selling is an outdated concept now. Hence, hardware resellers are strongly advised to build online E-stores – on large E-commerce platforms, on the Channel; Association E-stores platforms and on other E-stores platforms such as Indiamart, Instamojo, Bikayi and so on and move onto the online selling model.

Solutions and Service Providers

This category of ITMSMEs have to just build a strong online presence and connect with the customers online. Once they get connected, they can deal with them directly. All they have to do is to build a website, place their profile and list their solutions and services and drive traffic towards their website.  They don’t have to make any products catalogue. as in the case of hardware resellers.

Driving Traffic

Moving online and building E-stores is not very difficult. Nowadays, within minutes one can build an E-store online. Platforms such as Instamojo provide a basic free E-store with which they can begin and later go on to paid versions. The real challenge is in driving traffic. For, E-stores are useless without regular, organic traffic.

This is not as difficult as it appears to be. They have to build a website and promote it on social media, to increase their visibility. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram are the best and most frequented Social Media platform which everybody uses. The bottom line is that one has to be regular in social media promotion. Even two posts per day on all 4 social media platforms will be enough if done daily.

Joining groups on Facebook is another good strategy to promote one’s business. It has been observed that Facebook groups actually bring more inquiries than Linkedin, which is supposed to be a professional platform.

Those who can afford it, can employ a digital professional for driving traffic. But even if they can’t afford it, they can just post daily by themselves.

Joining large platforms which are already getting large volumes of traffic is another good strategy. Before opening an E-store, one should check if the platform is getting large volume of traffic.

With no signs of Corona waves ebbing away, it’s high time the ITMSMEs change their track and move online. This is their best option to grow.

Read more from Dr Archana Verma

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