Intelligent Tech-Based Solutions Assisting Merchants To Ensure Uninterrupted Business Amid Coronavirus Contagion
The global COVID-19 outbreak has created a paradigm shift in the behavior of the consumers. It has transformed the way we work, communicate, and shop in the recent past. As more people have started working remotely from home amid the virus scare, they are resorting to basics, stepping outside only to buy essentials and are constantly bothered about the perils of getting infected in crowded places like malls and supermarkets. That said, the whole world has now moved from offline to online. Those who used to purchase their daily essentials, groceries, and medicines from offline retail stores have now shifted to online aggregators. As a result, digital payments have witnessed a massive spike in the number of users against cash transactions that is reporting a decline in its users. With more and more consumers now relying on digital platforms for making their financial transactions for e-commerce, on-demand service delivery, on-demand entertainment or collaboration tools from the comfort of their homes, tech-based platforms facilitating the same are likely to dominate the future.
Retailers and e-commerce businesses at present are persistently encouraging their customers to make payments through digital channels.
Challenges & Opportunities for merchants and MSMEs
Digital payment platforms; both B2C and B2B were witnessing an upward growth even before COVID-19 hit the nation. According to a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report, digital transactions in India registered 19.5 per cent in value in 2018-19. This growth was primarily driven by MSMEs and merchants leveraging cutting-edge technology to cater to the specific requirements of each customer. COVID-19 has led to a public health and economic crisis of epic proportions. Businesses across industries and sectors are experiencing a first-hand impact of the virus outbreak due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown. They are struggling with a manpower shortage, supply chain issues, unanticipated demand, and lack of cash flow. Moreover, uncertainty prevails in terms of what will happen once the lockdown is over. Even though the lockdown is lifted, a relapse of the COVID-19 outbreak may occur if necessary preventive steps are not taken. Tackling situations in advance can help merchants and MSMEs stay prepared for growth and rebuilding sooner than they can expect.
Technologies driving business continuity in the current situation
Retailers and e-commerce businesses at present are persistently encouraging their customers to make payments through digital channels. They are looking for consumer-centric innovation in digital payments – be it in terms of service, security and user experience (UX). With a sudden surge in usage, many digital payment providers are bringing into play contingency plans to handle high volumes of payment. They are leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT to forecast the demand, manage customer queries and help the merchants in providing a frictionless buying experience for their customers. These technologies are enabling easy access to credit, multiple layers of real-time data to smoothen supply chain disruptions and automation that can drive the MSMEs to bounce back and thrive again once the crisis normalises.
The way forward
Digital payment platforms like eWallets, UPI-based apps, and net banking have seen a sharp jump in the number of users following the coronavirus outbreak. But considering that the society operates on high levels of trust, these times of crisis mark the perfect opportunity for businesses and merchants to create a pay-later or credit line system and provide maximum value to people. By allowing the customers the flexibility to make instant payments on every transaction, businesses can reach new consumers, increase conversions and maintain continuity despite being caught off-guard by the Novel Coronavirus crisis.