3 Ways For SMEs To Leverage Ecommerce Opportunities

SMEs can leverage their flexibility to expand into the e-commerce space, embracing the necessary digital infrastructure and catering to evolving customer needs in the new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic is powering the growth of e-commerce in Asia and around the globe. In Asia, the region currently represents nearly two-thirds of total global e-commerce spend1 and has seen the largest growth across markets worldwide in 2020. Even before the pandemic, intra-Asia trade already accounted for 60% of the region’s total exports.2

With everyone and everything moving online, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Asia Pacific are well-positioned to seize this moment. SMEs can leverage their flexibility to expand into the e-commerce space, embracing the necessary digital infrastructure and catering to evolving customer needs in the new normal. As an SME, there are 3 things you can do right now to embrace the e-commerce wave.

1. Identify the right market for your product

While there are plenty of opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, SMEs must adopt a targeted market strategy to ensure more resilient business operations and expansion, at a time of global uncertainty. For instance, India offers early-mover advantage for online retailers. For Indian SMEs, the move to e-commerce is fast-growing3. Merchants are moving away from traditional categories like electronics and apparel to more profitable niches, from beauty to personal care to furniture, which offer stronger growth potential. In a smaller market like Hong Kong, e-commerce is expected to grow by 40% by 20234. As the pandemic continues, the trend of turning to online platforms for shopping and other daily activities is showing no signs of stopping.

2. Create a seamless digital experience for your customers

Digital transformation, a buzzword from a few years back, has been further accelerated by the pandemic. The right digital infrastructure has created space for SMEs to refine new customer-centric experiences - and hone operational efficiencies. How your customers experience different touch points will influence their decisions to return. Design of the website, shopping cart checkout process, ease and speed of payment methods are very important for online shoppers. Expectations for convenience are especially high. As an SME, you should consider elevating your online presence. And above all, offer seamless, intuitive navigation that allows for easy search, compare and purchase features. SMEs are often lauded – and rightly so – for their ability to scale and adapt quickly. Make use of

digitalized sales tools. These help minimize administrative costs and errors by automating processes that were once manual.

3. Leverage innovative cross-border logistics solutions

Don’t forget - the customer journey doesn’t stop at purchase confirmation. Small businesses looking to tap into Asia’s growing cross-border e-commerce market must be able to offer fast and reliable delivery options. Logistics - the gateway between the online and the physical experience - plays a crucial role in ensuring customers are satisfied. Partnering with the right logistics service provider will help you navigate some of the hurdles SMEs struggle with when they first export internationally. From changing border regulations to customs procedures – a logistics partner can help you avoid unexpected delays. Customers today are more and more eager to know the exact details of delivery and prefer customizable, and cost-effective international delivery services. This has prompted logistics providers to introduce innovative solutions to be able to meet these expectations. For instance, FedEx recently introduced time and day definite delivery solutions in India with the launch of FedEx International Priority® Express (IPE) service that provides delivery by 10:30 or noon to select markets in Asia.

The global e-commerce marketplace is showing no signs of slowing down. SMEs who recognize the opportunities for growth - and adapt quickly to change – will be best-equipped to ride the e-commerce wave.

(The given article is attributed to Mohamad Sayegh, VP-Operations (India), FedEx Express and has been exclusively created for BW Businessworld)

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