Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra followed by West Bengal MSMEs lead the way to join e-commerce

Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce marketplace, has continued to be at the forefront of fighting the global pandemic, by partnering with their network of sellers, MSMEs and  artisans to deliver products to consumers at their doorstep through its safe supply-chain. Since April 2020, Flipkart has enabled more than 90% of its sellers to resume business on the platform. Sellers on Flipkart are able to leverage the benefits of nationwide market access along with an efficient, transparent and truly democratic functioning of their marketplace business. 

The impact of pandemic has urged businesses across the country to rethink their usual mode of operating and identify newer ways to function. Local MSMEs across the nation have realised the true value of e-commerce that enables them to stay connected with millions of customers.  As a result, Flipkart has seen 125% increase in new seller signing-up on the platform, in comparison to its existing seller base, for a period of April-June 2020. 

Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi and Tamil Nadu are the top states where local MSMEs have shown maximum interest in taking their businesses online. These sellers operate in various categories ranging from women’s clothing, personal care, food & nutrition, home improvement tools and baby-care products. In addition, other states are also not far behind to explore how Flipkart marketplace can be leveraged to reach the consumers.

Flipkart has been at the forefront of being vocal for local for over a decade now. Some of their recent efforts include:

● To help MSMEs and sellers through this pandemic, Flipkart introduced a health insurance plan, specific to COVID-19, to cover the sellers along with their families and employees, at a special rate with a coverage ranging between Rs.50,000 to Rs.3,00,000 per individual with annual premiums starting at ₹369

● The most important need of the seller community, in these times, is that of working capital. To address this, we ran a special offer on loans through Flipkart’s Growth Capital programme which is designed specifically to enable independence for MSMEs who operate online. Through the programme, most of the transacting sellers can avail credit at competitive interest rates with an approval time of one day and disbursal within 48 hours. A three month moratorium period has been implemented on existing loans; this means that sellers are not obligated to make a payment during this period. Further, any additional amount on sellers’ existing loans sanctioned during this period will have an extended financial limit with a 6-month moratorium period

● During the first phase of the lockdown, Flipkart’s Seller Protection Fund (SPF) enabled online sellers to claim a certain amount as compensation for unfair losses. For such SPF claims, sellers were given an extension on all the returns received for a certain period to ensure that they have enough time to raise their claims. Further, sellers did not have to wait for the usual 60 days to raise an SPF claim, and could raise one as soon as the company fully resumed its full operations

● Flipkart also extended certain ongoing premium services availed by sellers to include the lockdown period in their subscription terms so that their investment is not hampered for a stipulated period of time. These special services include Flipkart Care Touch Select, which is a premium service that allows sellers to get quicker resolutions for their business-related queries. In addition, sellers will continue to enjoy the services of Paid Account Managers dedicated managers who work with them closely to grow their business

● Further, for sellers who may face manpower issues, Flipkart continues to build additional capacities through Flipkart Fulfillment services to ensure continuity of operations, in addition to expanding market access by increasing the number of serviceable pincodes

● Flipkart launched ‘Flipkart Samarth’ program a year back, to reach out to a large number of rural entrepreneurs, with a special focus on women-led enterprises, differently-able entrepreneurs, artisans and weavers, with the help of NGOs, Government bodies and livelihood missions. These underserved communities often face obstacles such as lack of access to working capital, poor infrastructure and inadequate training which Flipkart wants to address

● Under the Samarth initiative, the company has already entered into MoUs with the Govts. Of Jharkhand, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh Khadi & Village Industries Board (UPKVIB) and the Gujarat State Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. Flipkart has also signed an MoU with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to collaborate with state missions under the DAY-NULM to set-up the Samarth program in 22 states in India

● ‘Flipkart Samarth’ has been playing a significant role in building capabilities within the rural and underserved society of the country and is today supporting the livelihood of over 500,000 artisans, weavers and micro enterprises across India

● Flipkart has also been conducting regular workshops, in partnership with FICCI, with the aim of helping MSMEs accelerate their businesses with the benefits of e-commerce while familiarising them on how digital tools can be instrumental in increasing brand visibility and growing their business many foldsAs a homegrown platform, Flipkart has a huge emphasis on enabling the local MSME industry of the country, by making them more digital and transforming their business journey. By allowing MSMEs, artisans and smaller traders in India to bring greater efficiencies in their operations with a strong market reach; E-commerce is further empowering these businesses to generate livelihood opportunities.