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Budget 2024: Online retail industry calls for higher spending on digital infrastructure

Notably, the government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) in December crossed 5 million transactions in a month for the first time, led by retail purchases.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Published on: January 28, 2024 18:46 IST
e-commerce
Image Source : FREEPIK An adult paying with a credit card indoors is generated by AI.

The rapid growth of e-commerce in tier-2 and tier-3 cities is the key driving factor behind the rise of the online retail market. According to Deloitte India, online retail penetration is projected to grow at an extraordinary rate in the coming years, and the size of the online retail market could touch USD 325 billion by 2030, compared to USD 70 billion in 2022.

Notably, the government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) in December crossed 5 million transactions in a month for the first time, led by retail purchases.

As the government readies to present the budget for the financial year 2024–25, the retail sector is keenly awaiting a comprehensive set of policy measures that will spur the growth trajectory and also create new job opportunities in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

According to Zameer Malik, CEO of Kulsum's Kaya Kalp, India's retail sector is booming with rising consumer spending patterns. Several government schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, have provided sustainability to small-scale retailers, thus fostering growth.

The adoption of technologies like AI, machine learning, and big data analytics is transforming the retail landscape, he said, adding that "integrating digital touchpoints into physical stores has a quantifiable impact on boosting sales. This can help in bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and online stores."

According to a survey by McKinsey, a retailer witnessed around 5 per cent growth in customers' average basket size by equipping in-store salespeople with tablets featuring sales-assist tools.

With an increasing number of businesses developing automated advice engines and forming partnerships to foster an ecosystem of diverse tools, applications, and vendors, budget considerations become vital in delivering exceptional service.

On the need to have a comprehensive omnichannel approach, Sahaj Chopra, co-founder of Fat Tiger, said, "Developing budget strategies that prioritise mobile interactions can ensure a pervasive presence."

India boasts a digitally savvy consumer base of more than 220 million online shoppers, further driving the growth of e-commerce. Online sales are poised to surpass organised retail, with a growing emphasis on omnichannel retail strategies where retailers seamlessly integrate their offline and online channels to provide consumers with the best of both worlds, it added.

"Establishing a cohesive omnichannel retail model necessitates a unified retail strategy and a budget that aligns with the dynamic needs of the omnichannel environment," Raghunandan Saraf, founder of Saraf Furniture, said.

The expectation from the budget is to harness the power of technology and sustainability, Ridhima Kansal, director of Rosemoore, said. The right use of technology can create an ecosystem that not only meets evolving demands but also sets new benchmarks for value.

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