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How e-comm is powering jobs in India

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Even before the pandemic hit, growing tech and digital enhancements had been propelling the growth of e-commerce both within and outside India. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 brought disruptive-level changes in consumption habits and retailers responded with alacrity.

Much of the growth for the retail industry has been triggered by an increase in internet and smartphone penetration as well as the easy payment accessibility from the rise in fintech and digital platforms. As of August 2021, the number of internet connections in India stood at around 760 million, driven by the ‘Digital India’ programme. Out of the total internet connections, 61 per cent was in urban areas, of which, 97 per cent was wireless.

Additionally, smartphone shipments in India increased by around 10 per cent y-o-y to reach 60 million units in the first quarter of FY22, driven by positive shipments of all smartphone vendors in the market.

The e-commerce market in India is projected to grow to a mammoth $200 billion by 2026 from $46.2 billion in 2020. Online retail sales in India are expected to grow 31 per cent in the same period, to touch $32.70 billion, led by e-commerce companies.

The rise in online businesses and e-tail has also been accelerated by the growth of fintech and digital payments with multitude of platforms filling the supply gap such as MobiKwik, Paytm, PhonePe and others. Not to mention the inter-bank connectivity facilitated by the UPI offering. The various processes and experiences of selecting, shopping, paying, ordering, and delivery are catapulting the retail and e-commerce industry to new heights.

Competitive advantages

Growing demand: E-commerce companies in India reported sales of $4.1 billion across platforms in the festival season of October 2021 (driven by increased demand for smartphones). Of the total sales, 55 per cent was generated from tier-II cities, suggesting untapped demand in the underserved areas of India.

Policy support: The government guidelines on allowing 100 per cent FDI in B2B e-commerce as well as the automatic route in the marketplace e-commerce model offer a positive business environment.

Increasing investments: E-commerce and consumer internet companies in India received more than $4.32 billion from private equity and venture capital players, which will further support and consolidate the industry.

New e-commerce and social commerce start-ups are coming up to fulfil the e-commerce and online shopping demand in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. It’s also opening up opportunities for cottage industries and entrepreneurs in a big way and this includes the most marginalised sections and women. All this is creating an inclusive job ecosystem for both highly qualified and skilled professionals as well as those with minimal qualifications.

Apart from logistics and warehousing jobs, the requirement of user analytics, data mining and cybersecurity functions, the e-tail industry is in dire need of specialised and customised e-commerce centric products and services to fulfil these requirements.

This transformation calls for skilled IT and ITeS professionals, data scientists, warehouse workers, supply chain managers, delivery persons, customer service executives, and call centre operators. The market is teeming with jobs for people right from software product development to web architects, user interface designers, analytics experts, and data miners, among others.

Along with the increased demand for skilled and unskilled blue-collar workforce in logistics, warehousing, and supply chain,E-tail is also generating growth in allied industries like fintech, marketing and advertising amongst others. The sector has had a significant impact on entrepreneurship and start-up culture and is helping SMEs, handicraft workers, artisans, and women earn a livelihood.

E-commerce players are experimenting with various kinds of engagement models including temporary and contractual employment during peak season, as well as permanent positions for more professional services.

This is leading to a transformation in the lives of blue-collar workers, helping people build careers from a range of varied skills.

The future of e-commerce

The e-commerce industry has been directly impacting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing means of financing, technology and training and has a favourable cascading effect on other industries as well. The Indian e-commerce industry has been on an upward growth trajectory and is expected to surpass the US to become the second largest e-commerce market in the world by 2034.

The growth in the e-commerce sector will also boost employment, increase revenues from exports, increase tax collection by exchequers, and provide better products and services to customers in the long-term. Smartphone usage is expected to rise 84 per cent to reach 859 million by 2022. The e-retail market is expected to continue its strong growth — it registered a CAGR of over 35 per cent to reach ₹1.8 trillion. Over the next five years, the Indian e-retail industry is projected to be around 350 million shoppers, propelling the online gross merchandise value to $100-120 billion by 2026.

The writer is VP, TeamLease Services

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