How Safe Is It To Do Business Online? A Narration Of Financial Stability Brought By Online Selling!
An online business is a still a new phenomenon for many retailers inspite of the booming e-commerce industry in India, especially in the interior areas.
Financial stability is not a path laid by luck or good fortune. You acquire it with grit and perseverance as you work towards growing your business. In fact, of the many wise things floating around, the idea of guaranteed financial stability isn’t something you should hold on to.
Just like no two amazing things have the same formula, no two businesses can have the same path to success.
So then one wonders, how is financial stability placed amidst the online retail sector? To think of it, for over a decade now, the internet has had this unique proposition for setting up businesses digitally that is inclusive of a secure payment gateway.
If you still feel old school about it, then you should remember that financial institutions (read banks) all over the world have taken on to this proposition long ago. If money can be transferred seamlessly across continents, then shouldn’t it be the same for a television ordered online?
With this basic idea in mind, various online e-commerce marketplaces sprouted all over the world. First off, what made these marketplaces thrive is their ability to secure a retailers money and release them in a timely manner without the struggle of haggling or following up.
Whether it was a single order or bulk orders, retailers knew they could expect timely payments. The second and more attractive aspect of this business model was the lack of investment. They didn’t need a shop or the staff to set up an online store so what you earned was yours to use without the bulk overhead costs.
To elaborate more on this, we would like to narrate a few stories. Some businesses based out of Kerala have had an uphill journey and here’re the stories of the business owners and how they achieved financial stability by taking their business online.
How Weavers & Artisans of Kerala Achieved Financial Success After They Took Their Business Online
In the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, selling businesses are usually in the form of shops. Basically, they are establishments that today are referred to as offline stores but a couple of years ago it wasn’t the case. Not many people had heard of online selling or were aware of the concept of online business but a handful of them happened to chance upon the idea.
Let’s take the case of a fashion designer from Kannur in North Kerala. She had only recently completed her fashion designing course, decided to get married and move to Thiruvananthapuram. Once in Trivandrum, she attempted to set up her own shop but nobody bought from her. She was then forced to close down her business but that would impact the livelihood of the weavers who provided her with the products to sell.
So, she set up her store online as an experiment and today runs a successful business employing over 50 weavers across the state.
“At that point, we had applied for a bank loan which did not pass through so I couldn’t invest heavily in promoting my shop. It was a simple 200 sq ft shop that had in the display the regular products you get here in abundance. Like the banana chips, jackfruit chips, wild turmeric, the basic cotton gold border sarees etc. But, we couldn’t keep up. Nobody wanted to buy the same products from a new shop.’’
Her story, like many others who found financial stability through an online business, is about experimenting with opportunities.
In the case of a Bangalore based online seller who sells traditional handmade cookware products, the story is not too different. Since a traditional shop would cost more, they decided to go ahead with reduced overhead costs and experimented with an online store.
Today they source Urli from Mannar in Kerala and provide a stable financial income to the artisans. Similarly, there are sellers selling Ayurvedic medicines and daily use products curated in Kerala but sold across the country bringing in steady revenue.
In an attempt to understand what these online business models do differently and become successful in such a short period of time, we also caught up Pranav Bhasin, Director of Seller Experience, Amazon India and here’s what he had to say.
In Conversation with Pranav Bhasin, Director of Seller Experience, Amazon India
Q1) What makes selling on Amazon a safe choice with respect to financial stability?
I would say there are a couple of factors that collectively impact it, like timely payments, really low investment and the support to scale your business. Take, for example, the Easy Ship service equips our sellers for early shipment of their orders to over 20,000 pin codes across India.
Alternatively, sellers can also sign up for the Fulfillment by Amazon service that allows them to store their inventory at a warehouse managed by Amazon, allowing them the liberty to successfully run a business without investing into large spaces for inventory storage.
Q2) What does Amazon do to help new sellers who are keen on setting up their own business but are low on resources?
To answer this, let me highlight some of our focus areas. Starting with our obsession to make Amazon an easy to use online channel, we also have dedicated teams present in remote locations to help sellers launch.
We have a network of third-party service providers who can help you with taking photos of your products, manage discoverability of your products on the marketplace and even manage your business if you are on a break or simply need assistance.
There are a variety of lending programs that can help you with working capital when you are ready to scale. We also work with government bodies and cooperatives to enable women entrepreneurs, artisans and weavers to benefit from the e-commerce market. Today, thousands of our new sellers ship their first orders within the first thirty days of their launch. We have a dedicated team that constantly monitors the early success of our sellers allowing us to provide relevant help.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Amazon India Seller Services.