The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way business is done in India. Successive lockdowns imposed across the country have accelerated the pace of digital adoption in almost every sector of the business ecosystem. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), this pivot has been crucial.
As most of India’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and small businesses had traditional workflows, the transition to digital operations was quite a challenge.
A strong distribution network is important for any business wishing to expand its reach. However, during the pandemic, companies faced distribution challenges when it came to the quality of the workforce, distribution partners, and consistent service.
On the other hand, distributors looking for new projects and work have struggled to strike a deal. This is where the New Delhi-based TradeIndia B2B marketplace platform Getdistributors.com enters the scene.
Getdistributors.com is a virtual platform that helps businesses expand their reach by appointing distributors across India. It also allows companies wishing to be a distributor to easily connect with the brand.
In an interaction with SMBShistory, Sandip Chhettri, CEO of TradeIndia unpack Getdistributors.com and how it connects distributors to businesses.
SMBShistory [SMBS]: What is Getdistributors.com and what issues does it solve?
Sandip Chhettri [SC]: Anticipating the growing need for businesses looking for distributors, franchisees or sales agents, we launched Getdistributors.com which established itself as an online gateway with an informative list of key stakeholders.
Getdistributors.com users use the directory of available partners and search for their applicable details. We have a huge database of companies from different categories who have expressed an interest in becoming distributors. We’ve built technology that allows you to match and connect with the right companies.
Amid the pandemic, many entrepreneurs suffered losses. Let me give you the example of a school uniform dealer who is now a registered distributor with us. While schools have been closed (and continue to be), entrepreneurs like these uniform merchants have been hit. They had the network and the process in place, but no work. We put these dealers in touch with the companies that were looking for distributors. Likewise, we help distributors and companies in their smooth running of the business.
Getdistributors.com was launched in 2013. However, we have seen tremendous traction and increase in this portal amid the pandemic and have seen massive growth.
SMBS: How many distributors and companies are listed on the portal? Are there any subscription fees?
SC: Over 1.1 lakh of businesses are listed in 38 categories including agriculture, clothing and fashion, automotive, brass hardware and components, business services, chemicals, IT , hardware and software, consumer electronics, foodservice, furniture, health and beauty, jewelry and gems, toys, and more.
We offer both free services and paid subscriptions to SMEs. For SMEs, registration is free. As soon as they register, they are added to their industry category. We make sure they get visibility online and have leads. We also provide them with ongoing CRM support (customer resource management). To get more visibility, free users need to upgrade their profile and pay a certain amount.
Our business model is to charge vendors a subscription fee in exchange for listing their products on our platform.
SMBS: What difficulties do small businesses face when setting up a distribution network?
SC: In India, the distribution of products has always been traditional and unique. The distribution channel structure varies across industries, to put it simply, every company has its distribution channel structure. Every business organization has its own ways of keeping important inventory data, sales information and many other important information that will support them and help them make decisions and help them understand their growth at a glance. eye.
Here are some of the main challenges facing businesses today:
- Lack of well-organized information and data. Lack of good data reduces the efficiency of business and decision-making.
- Increased distributor churn rate: It has become very difficult to maintain the relationship with existing distributors in the rapidly changing brand competition.
- There is also a growing channel conflict regarding pricing, discounts, and the range between general commerce, e-commerce, and modern commerce. While the end consumer can benefit from this conflict through lower prices, the pressure on margins along the value chain continues to grow.
SMEs: What policy changes and government initiatives can help SMEs in distribution?
SC: The development of an effective business support system is the key to the success of SMEs. This requires business support agencies, including financial institutions, that are customer-oriented and have a demonstrated ability to penetrate the SME sector. Some of the policies the government can include:
- Take measures to strengthen the business support system, through an intermediary role, strengthening the capacity of business services, both public and private (e.g. provision of information on markets, products and processes , accounting, market analyzes and studies, transport, express delivery);
- Develop an “offer” for establishing contact with SMEs, based on the principle of “adequacy to the offer” and which includes the following elements:
- Improve the flow of information on potential market opportunities through the development of a national website, complemented by “meet the buyer” events.
- Target vendors based on their proven capabilities and commitment to future improvements.
- Work closely with companies by inviting them to help potential suppliers to (a) understand their sourcing needs (b) identify areas where they have good sourcing opportunities and (c) draw attention to the weaknesses they must overcome to be successful. Such an intermediary role helps to strengthen mutual understanding and trust between companies and potential suppliers.
- Help SMEs / suppliers identify needs and then access the public and private support services they need.
- Provide some form of monetary incentive to local businesses and SMEs to participate in the linkage program and subsidize the training and counseling needed to improve the capacity of suppliers.
- Develop capacity building programs that include supply chain and cluster initiatives, which recognize the potential of supplier tier development to enhance spillover effects, including microenterprises as lower tier suppliers .
SMBS: What future for the distribution network in India?
SC: The concept of omnichannel retail or hybrid business approach has become increasingly popular among offline retailers. Given the complementary strengths of physical and online channels, a hybrid structure is starting to emerge as the new face of retail. Today it is not just an offline or online model, but a hybrid business model comprising both offline and online channel activities.
Hybrid brings a mix of traditional and online channels into a digitally enabled ecosystem. It also includes an interaction between technology solutions and digitally savvy employees and customers. Factors enabling rapid transformation of offline retail industry are personalized experience, digitized operations, integrated supply chain. Fintech solutions are the backbone of this hybrid business framework.
The most popular account of this concept is how Kirana store owners have embraced digital technology, from receiving orders online to order fulfillment through hyperlocal integrated chains and digital payments.
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