Shopkeepers losing to Technology?

Online shopping has witnessed an exceptional surge during the pandemic, which has resulted in shopkeepers suffering huge loss.

Coronavirus has put the whole world in a state of lockdown. It has had a huge impact on every industry, be it positive or negative. One industry that has benefitted the most is the E- commerce. Consumers prefer shopping online rather than going out and increasing the risk of contracting virus. Due to this, there has been a significant decrease in sale at stores.

A study conducted by the New England School of Medicine found,”SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces…”. The research also stated that the half-life on stainless steel and plastic was 5.6 and 6.8 hours respectively. Therefore, shopping online reduces chances of coming into direct contact with the virus; and with precautions it is much safer than going out physically. Divya Chopra, a resident of Kolkata said, “I have indulged more into online shopping for groceries and hygiene supplies recently, because stepping out of the house is risky, and they offer good deals”. “The risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved travelled and exposed to different conditions and temperature is low. You can sanitize your package and keep it aside for 2-3 days”said Sweta Sah, a resident of Purnea.

About 74% small businesses and start- ups in the country are either shutting or scaling down their operation due to the pandemic, according to a survey of startups and SMEs based in more than 90 districts in India. Small and medium business for commodities like jewellery, clothes, grocery, gadgets etc have suffered huge losses. “About 20% of the total sale has gone down due to consumers preferring online medium, especially during Covid-19”, said Ranjeet Agarwal a small town based Businessman.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company said, “as almost 25 percent of MSME and small- and medium-size-enterprise (SME) loans could slip into default”. The pandemic has made everyone’s life difficult, but with a sudden increase in demand for e-commerce the shopkeepers are suffering. Retail Industry of India accounts over 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and around eight per cent of employment. Therefore, it has a direct impact on the country’s economy.

Amazon works with retailers who use the platform to sell their products online. In April, the company announced the ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme  “helps customers discover products from local shops in their city from the convenience of their homes, while helping shopkeepers supplement footfalls with a digital presence and expand beyond their normal catchment,” the company said. Gopal Pillai, Amazon India vice-president for seller services said, “What we are saying now more than ever is that we need to step up and help small businesses and local shopkeepers”. He added, “We are committing Rs10 crore in investment to expedite onboarding and training and enablement of these stores to take advantage of this opportunity.”(Source :Mint)

“Although online giants like Flipkart and Amazon promote local businesses to join their platform to increase their sales, but this remains confined to the ones who are either retailers or wholesalers of products and not services,”said Uttam Chopra who offers both product and services to his clients at Samta Computers. Since most Indian Retailers are not aware about technology, it might take a long time for them to adapt to the online mode. Also, some shopkeepers are reluctant to try online medium as they are comfortable in the tradition way of selling things.


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