Info-tech

Google India’s efforts to get small biz online hit a rough patch

S. Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on November 22, 2017

Most users not ready to pay for renewing service

Google India’s efforts to get small and medium business units online are struggling to take off.

A number of shop owners and companies, who initially signed up for the free service, have declined to pay at the end of the offer period.

Google had launched the initiative in November in a bid to drive businesses online. It offered to provide free Web sites for SMBs in markets, including shops in Chandni Chowk area of Delhi.

What they say

However, the owners of such shops have declined to renew the service, once it went paid. They say that the Web site has not much difference to their businesses.

Sanjay Kumar, a cloth retailer at Chandni Chowk by the name of Derawal Cloth, told Business Line, “We are a small shop, so we do not need such information to be and there is no impact to our business because of the Web site.”

He said they do not have much time to work on the computer and if somebody has to be hired for that, it would add to the cost of operations.

“If it continues to be a free service then its fine, but if they (Google) are planning to charge some fee from us, we will not continue with the services,” said a footwear retailer.

However, when asked, Google India said its initiative was aimed at reducing the barriers of getting online.

“With this initiative, we have published over 2.50 lakh Web sites for business in India. In Chandni Chowk, more than half of businesses that signed up for the programme have benefited from it,” a company spokesperson said.

Moreover, over one-third of those businesses have also started using online advertising solutions to grow their business.

“From sweetmeat sellers to wedding card designers, shops with Web sites have seen hundreds of queries coming in by virtue of being present online. We hope that more businesses will find value in getting online and maintaining their presence online. We will continue with our objective of getting businesses online,” the spokesperson added.

The company targets to create 5 lakh Web sites for such businesses by next year, including around 5,000 shops in Chandni Chowk.

Big challenge

However, according to analysts, such initiative by Google was a big challenge as many SMBs in India still work through ‘word of mouth’.

“Only discounting of services will not work as integration of applications also has to be in place. Google needs to invest aggressively in implementation and software partners which is currently a weak link for the company,” Sanchit Vir Gogia, Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer, Greyhound Research, said.

> ronendrasingh.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 07, 2013

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