Narayan Rane, Minister of MSME, announced the launch of FIRST, the Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers, and Traders in the presence of over 400 retailers and seller organisations. The aim of FIRST is to create awareness and support MSMEs across India on the opportunities that will help them go digital and become self-reliant. Over 17,200 enterprises based in India across the retail, trade and commerce sector, selling goods and services, have registered with the Forum.
Addressing the gathering, Narayan Rane said, “Indian MSMEs are the backbone of our economy and they need to be provided with all support to expand their livelihood. I am happy for the constitution of FIRST which will help digitization and growth of MSMEs.”
The event was also graced by the presence of eminent dignitaries like Bhanupratap Verma, Minister of the State, GoI, B.B. Swain, Secretary, Ministry of MSME and Mercy Epao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of MSME.
Dr. Aruna Sharma, IAS (retd.) and Secretary General of FIRST said, “We are proud to be a part of a first-of-its-kind forum for online businesses. Online platforms have expanded the reach of businesses irrespective of geography and scale. FIRST aims to be the voice of MSMEs selling online and help foster their growth by acting as advocates among government representatives and policymakers.”
Narayan Rane also took this opportunity to announce the launch of a report titled, “State of the retail in India: 2023,” to understand the adoption and relevance of digital technology by the retailer. The report surveyed 22,761 Indian MSMEs across 13 states including Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. It highlights how e-commerce platforms have enabled MSMEs to meet new consumer demands using technology advances such as supply chain optimisation.
According to the findings of the report, 72.5% of retailers have high acceptability for adoption of digital tools to improve store operations and offerings with 53% using it to improve collaboration across departments. 64% of the retailers have an online presence where 35.59% have adopted a digital business program, and 25% are in favor that digital adoption will enable a more adaptive mode of doing business. It also suggests that 69% of retailers prefer online gateways for transactions such as Amazon Pay, UPI etc.
Vinod Kumar, President, India SME Forum said, “The digital transformation of MSMEs has a significant impact on the overall growth and value of the Indian economy. Small scale retailers need to leverage the opportunity offered by e-commerce platforms to reap benefits from the ever-evolving market trends. FIRST will give them the necessary footing and not only assist SMEs connect with new age technology but also bring India closer to PM Modi's digital India vision.”