India needs a harmonious offline and online retail policy: Avik Sarkar

India needs to harmonize its retail policy for online and offline sellers and focus on digital empowerment and capacity building to create a strong ecosystem of MSMEs, said Dr. Avik Sarkar, Professor at the Indian School of Business during a panel discussion on “FTP priorities for the MSME sector”.

“we should have a common policy for the retail segment as a whole, except for a few aspects of e-commerce. In general there should be common regulation whether the product is sold online or offline and it was a study that we did at the Indian School of Business some time ago that talks about parity between online and offline.

Sarkar also highlighted the growing importance of a simplified export mechanism for India to remain globally competitive.

“E-commerce can boost exports for MSME segment. As we all know, the traditional export route is quite difficult and complicated. You have to go through associations, you have to go through trades, you have to send product samples to foreign countries and often people may like it E-commerce has made it easier for many players Many MSMEs are exporting through e-commerce, but their percentage is still quite low, so there must be to have an impetus for MSME e-commerce export in the next foreign trade policy,” he said.

Sarkar noted that the union budget considered a long-term perspective to build India’s MSME sector, particularly focused on infrastructure development and digital training.

“Since our e-commerce setup is mostly attached to cities, there is still a large portion (about 60%) of the population, especially in rural areas which are mostly unserved. They have buying potential, but we don’t have an effective model to reach them. And setting up warehouses in these areas might not be economical for e-commerce businesses as they would ideally prefer warehouses outside of major metropolitan cities rather than outside of a small district town. So, by focusing on infrastructure in the current budget, we will overcome this hurdle to a large extent,” explained Sarkar.

Citing a report from the Indian School of Business, Sarkar said that only 10-15% of MSMEs or small sellers today take advantage of the e-commerce platform, be it Amazon or Flipkart, or any of them in India. Manufacturers and SMEs have enormous opportunities to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon. »

He also highlighted the need for digital support and training for MSMEs.

“The government has talked about digital empowerment and training for MSMEs. The government said it would impart skills on digital aspects through doordarshan and other channels. I think there should be tailored courses for MSMEs – on maintaining inventory, effective supply chain management and a range of other things. There is a need for education and capacity building which has appeared in the current budget. So the focus on infrastructure and education will help MSMEs in the long run,” he said.

Anne G. Cash