Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic first wreaked havoc around the world, its effect has been constantly observed on both individuals and businesses. With most people forced to stay indoors to stay safe, many companies, especially small-scale businesses had to shut down, largely due to massive financial losses. Furthermore, the sudden and unexpected situation exposed how several businesses were grossly unprepared or under-prepared to handle a crisis of such extent.
In developing countries like India, lots of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) faced a similar predicament following lockdown procedures directed by the Government of India across the country. Many laborers and daily wage workers were left to fend for themselves overnight as the places they worked at began to shut down, either due to panic, financial losses, or a little bit of everything. Those factories that operated locally for various MNCs suffered as well.
As the situation grabbed the attention of policymakers, they came up with an innovative idea that could help SMEs and the labor force to not just survive, but thrive during such situations– namely the ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative. In a bid to promote self-reliance or ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Government of India launched the ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign as a revival of the broader ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The overall aim of the entire ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign is to encourage local and native businesses and manufactured goods to gain precedence over exported or foreign products. One of the first stakeholders to join the bandwagon in support of these campaigns were Indian e-commerce brands, making it a point to heavily promote and suggest India-made goods/products to customers from all walks of life. Let us find out why the involvement of e-commerce players is crucial to the success of ‘Vocal for Local’, and the ‘Make in India’ campaign in general.
Staying Home; Ordering Online
As soon as the country-wide lockdown measures were implemented throughout India, lots of people resorted to panic-buying, hoarding, and thronging local stores to buy whatever they could and as much as possible to prepare for a seemingly dystopian future. However, when the initial chaos subsided and the Indian Government began
allowing e-commerce platforms to begin delivery for customers, the importance of going digital became more obvious.
By ensuring contactless delivery protocols, customers were able to place their orders online without having to leave the safety of their homes. What’s more, with an emphasis on locally-made goods and an innate sense of national pride, customers were encouraged to buy products that were ‘Made in India’.
The Digital Push: From Offline To Online
The need for businesses to go digital has been accelerated during the pandemic as it has shown that doing so can allow local brands to reach out to their customers more easily. According to different surveys conducted during the past couple of months, it was reported that 8 in 10 buyers switched their shopping habits, and over 70 percent of people were ordering products online that they were previously purchasing from offline stores. What’s more, 30 percent of business owners have suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic could cause their e-commerce establishment to accomplish greater growth.
Going by such trends, lots of local businesses and SMEs continue to be encouraged to go digital to popularise native products not only amongst Indian customers but internationally as well.
Quality Goods With A Local Touch
By ensuring contactless delivery protocols, customers were able to place their orders online without having to leave the safety of their homes
Raghunandan Saraf, Founder & CEO, Saraf Furniture
Some e-commerce domains like online furniture brands have managed to gain lots of customers during the pandemic. By focussing on locally sourced raw material, such as Sheesham wood for sturdy wooden furniture, online furniture retailers are quickly becoming sought-after for unique products that are truly made in India.
Apart from that, some local businesses are even offering special discounts on Indian-made products on their online portals to encourage more customers to buy local.
The past few months have tested the ability of businesses to reach out to customers, both new and existing, via different digitally-enabled and online communication channels. Be it websites, social media networks, popular chatting & communication mobile applications, or some other form of communication, businesses are branching out in terms of customer reach and customer service.
Since most people are avoiding visits to offline stores, brands are making themselves more accessible through the aforementioned channels of online communication and more. Even SMEs and local merchants, who typically don’t possess strong digital infrastructure, are doing what they can to utilize resources at hand that can fulfill their digital requirements; making sure that their vocal call to customers for local products is heard in any way possible.
In conclusion, it can be said that initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ is certainly the need of the hour to revive the Indian economy following the pandemic. However, they also need the digital push of e-commerce to grow; allowing local businesses to cater to various needs of customers, with just a touch or tap of a button.