With e-commerce exports, every business has the opportunity to tap the global market

Anand Mirani, Director & Lead Advisor, ​Simplus Exim & Corporate Advisory LLP, discusses the amazing opportunities that MSMEs can leverage with e-commerce exports to expand their exports and build strong international market presence. While he appreciates the government for initiatives like a dedicated chapter on e-commerce in the latest Foreign Trade Policy and the District as Export Hub Initiative, Mirani also provides suggestions for India to catalyse its exports via the e-commerce medium.

Anand Mirani_TPCI

India Business & Trade: E-commerce is simplifying the landscape for MSMEs and a lot of them would want to be a part of this growing trend to tap export markets. So first of all, can you provide a brief overview of what cross border e-commerce entails and how it differs from traditional export channels?

Anand Mirani: Imagine a world where your business can reach every corner of the globe, where your products find new homes across continents. Cross-border e-commerce is not just a channel; it’s a gateway to global markets.

Unlike traditional export channels, which often involve intermediaries, cross-border e-commerce connects you directly with customers worldwide through digital platforms. The digital landscape offers MSMEs an unparalleled opportunity to reduce capital requirements and tap into a world of 4.5 billion internet users.

It made evident by its dedicated chapter in India’s Foreign Trade Policy 2023. This marks a transformative shift, showcasing the government’s strategic intent to harness the $26 trillion global e-commerce market, with global e-commerce exports expected to surge beyond $7 trillion by 2027.

This paradigm shift not only simplifies the export process but also significantly reduces costs, making the global market accessible to every MSME with an internet connection. The digital era has democratized international trade, and now, with a click, your local products can dazzle customers thousands of miles away and allowing direct engagement with international customers.

India Business & Trade: If an MSME wants to tap this channel, what kind of approach they should follow in order to leverage the benefits of this medium?

Anand Mirani: To sail through this vast ocean of e-commerce, MSMEs need to embrace a digital-first approach. Begin with understanding the market dynamics of your target countries and tailor your online presence accordingly. Invest in building a compelling online brand that resonates with your global audience. Use applicable social media to increase your visibility.

Remember, the digital world thrives on engagement and experience; your story, your brand’s story, is what will connect you with customers across the globe. They need to change the approach when it comes to packing and packaging.

Platforms like Amazon and eBay simplify this journey, mirroring the ease of creating an email account. They provide comprehensive support, from onboarding to analytics, transforming logistics from a cumbersome process to a streamlined, risk-free operation.

This digital transformation empowers even the smallest exporters, making exports of single items not just feasible but profitable.

India Business & Trade: The government has started the District as an Export Hub initiative and now they are trying to tie it into e-commerce exports. What is your view on that initiative and how it could help India achieve the $1 trillion target which we are envisaging?

Anand Mirani: The District as Export Hub initiative is a visionary step by the government, aiming to weave the rich tapestry of local industries into the global market fabric.

This initiative is a revolutionary stride towards realizing the $1 trillion export dream. It leverages India’s rich heritage and specialized products, like bandhani sarees, providing artisans direct access to global markets.

By focusing on each district’s unique strengths and products, this initiative not only promises to diversify India’s export portfolio but also to uplift local economies. Tying this with e-commerce exports can turbocharge our journey to the envisione target, transforming local markets into global export powerhouses.

This initiative is transforming traditional value chains, enabling producers from remote corners like Kutch or Bhuj to sell globally, ensuring they receive the value and respect they truly deserve. It’s about bringing the world to our doorstep and showcasing the vibrancy of India’s districts on the global stage.

India Business & Trade: Do MSMEs require to make any significant upgrade in terms of digital infrastructure and skilling to participate in cross-border e-commerce. How do they do that?

Anand Mirani: Yes, stepping into cross-border e-commerce requires an upgrade in both digital infrastructure and skills. But, Indian MSMEs should not consider this as a cost or a challenge, but as an investment and exponential opportunity to transform your business.

And in the era of e-commerce, investing in digital infrastructure and skills is not optional but essential. MSMEs’ inherent adaptability and agility position them uniquely to embrace technological advancements. Strategic investments in cloud computing and other cost effective solutions will reduce the investment burden for MSMEs.

Start with enhancing user experience while purchasing your product either from your e-commerce website or from any other platform i.e. Flipkart, eBay, etc. Ensure that it’s optimized for international customers.

Parallel to that, focus on digital literacy for your team. From understanding e-commerce platforms to digital marketing, empower your team with the skills of tomorrow (maybe they are already the skills of today!).

MSMEs can harness the full potential of digital commerce, ensuring their team is equipped and ready for the new business landscape. Embrace these changes, for they are your ladder to global success.

India Business & Trade: Please share some notable case studies or success stories, where Indian MSMEs have utilized cross-border e-commerce successfully in your view. This question also comes in the context of something else. We have always talked about the challenge that Indian companies are commodity exporters and do not necessarily like to invest in branding. So can cross-border e-commerce also help them bridge that gap?

Anand Mirani: Indian MSMEs are breaking the mould, moving beyond commodity exports to establish global brands. Innovative packaging and branding strategies are enabling small-scale companies to make significant inroads into international markets.

Let’s talk inspiration. Consider the journey of Indian fashion and lifestyle brands like Chumbak and Vajor, which started as small ventures and are now celebrated names on global e-commerce platforms. Or the organic beauty brands like Khadi Natural and Biotique that have harnessed e-commerce to reach customers across borders, turning local wisdom into global wellness trends.

These stories illustrate that with the right strategy, Indian MSMEs can indeed build global brands, transcending the identity of mere commodity exporters. It’s about leveraging the digital space to tell your brand’s unique story and connect with customers worldwide.

If branding and packaging are executed in the right way with a strategic approach, they are not expenses. Instead, they are investments and the ROI is unimaginable! These success stories highlight the power of e-commerce in transforming traditional businesses into international success stories.

India Business & Trade: What are the major gaps in the policy or infrastructure ecosystem for India that we need to address to capitalize on cross border e-commerce for trade? What is our present status in terms of preparedness? Do you have any suggestions?

Anand Mirani: While commendable progress has been made with specific policies for e-commerce exports, continuous adaptation is necessary to match the dynamic international business environment.

To fully harness the potential of cross-border e-commerce, India needs to streamline regulatory processes and enhance digital infrastructure. While the government’s initiatives have laid a strong foundation, there’s room for more integrated policies that simplify cross-border transactions and address logistical challenges.

Simplifying payment transactions and raising awareness about e-commerce export provisions among MSMEs are critical steps forward. To capitalize on the e-commerce export opportunity, India must streamline regulatory frameworks, enhance digital infrastructure, and foster digital literacy. Enhancing digital literacy and providing more robust support for MSMEs to go digital are also crucial.

With the support of policies like the Foreign Trade Policy 2023 and initiatives aimed at boosting digital infrastructure, the future of India’s e-commerce exports shines bright. It’s time to take that bold step forward, to innovate, to explore, and to make your mark on the global stage.

Each step forward in e-commerce exports is a leap towards realizing the vast potential of Indian MSMEs on the global stage. Seizing this $350 billion opportunity of e-commerce exports for Indian MSMEs by 2030 requires innovation, adaptation, and leadership.

Our readiness is evolving, but with concerted efforts from both the government and the private sector, India can emerge as a formidable force in e-commerce exports.

Anand Mirani, Director & Lead Advisor, ​Simplus Exim & Corporate Advisory LLP International Business is very dynamic and ever-evolving. He has more than 12+ yrs. experience practicing as a Strategic & Legal Business Advisor, Consultant, and Corporate Trainer with a passion to empower Manufacturers, Exporters, Importers, and Merchant Traders to develop, grow, and effectively manage their International business – Export Import.

Further, Anand has over 24 yrs. total experience in various domains i.e. International Marketing, Global Procurement, Operations Management, Administration, Customer Service, and Direct Sales & Marketing with diversified Industries i.e. Engineering, Auto Part Mfg., Machine Tools, Freight Forwarding, Express Logistics, Garments, Aviation & Airport Management, and Pharmaceuticals.

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