In the presence of over 400 retailers and seller groups, Narayan Rane, Minister of MSME, announced the opening of FIRST, the Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers, and Traders, today.
The goal of FIRST is to raise awareness and provide assistance to MSMEs across India in order for them to become digital and become self-sufficient. Approximately 17,200 Indian businesses supplying goods and services in the retail, trade, and commerce sectors have registered with the Forum.
Addressing the gathering, Narayan Rane said, “Indian MSMEs are the backbone of our economy and they need to be provided with all support to expand their livelihood. I am happy for the constitution of FIRST which will help digitization and growth of MSMEs.”
The ceremony was also attended by Bhanupratap Verma, Minister of State, Government of India, B. B. Swain, Secretary, Ministry of MSME, and Mercy Epao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of MSME.
Dr. Aruna Sharma, IAS (retd.) and Secretary General of FIRST, said, “We are proud to be a part of a first-of-its-kind forum for online businesses. Online platforms have expanded the reach of businesses irrespective of geography and scale. FIRST aims to be the voice of MSMEs selling online and help foster their growth by acting as advocates among government representatives and policymakers.”
MSMEs form the backbone of our economy. With e-commerce widening the scope of business for the retail industry, we want to be the voice of MSMEs in India and help remove the barriers in digital commerce. We aim to foster the growth in the Indian retail and e-commerce industry, propose workable solutions to the legislators, and assist them in creating a better framework for retail and wholesale trade.”
Narayan Rane also used this occasion to announce the release of a study titled “State of Retail in India: 2023,” which would help retailers analyse the adoption and importance of digital technologies.
The survey included 22,761 Indian MSMEs from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. It focuses on how e-commerce platforms have helped MSMEs to satisfy new customer needs by using technological developments such as supply chain efficiency.
According to the report’s results, 72.5 per cent of retailers are open to adopting digital technologies to improve store operations and offers, with 53 per cent using it to boost communication between departments. 64 per cent of shops have an online presence, 35.59 per cent have implemented a digital business programme, and 25 per cent believe that digital adoption will allow for a more adaptable method of conducting business. It also indicates that 69 per cent of retailers choose online payment methods such as Amazon Pay, UPI, and others for transactions.
Vinod Kumar, President, India SME Forum said, “The digital transformation of MSMEs has a significant impact on the overall growth and value of the Indian economy. Small scale retailers need to leverage the opportunity offered by e-commerce platforms to reap benefits from the ever-evolving market trends. FIRST will give them the necessary footing and not only assist SMEs connect with new age technology but also bring India closer to PM Modi’s digital India vision.”