How Shopify is helping MSMEs and SMEs sail through the lockdown by helping them strengthen their online presence
Sandeep Komaravelly, Director of International Growth, Shopify
Canadian e-commerce company Shopify has been working closely with MSMEs.

How Shopify is helping MSMEs and SMEs sail through the lockdown by helping them strengthen their online presence

Canadian e-commerce company Shopify has been working closely with MSMEs.
  • Things have been challenging for small and medium scale businesses that are bearing the brunt of the lockdown due to low consumer spending and disruptions and delivery and production.
  • Canadian e-commerce company Shopify has been working closely with MSMEs to help them strengthen their online presence and to future-proof their business.
  • Sandeep Komaravelly, Director of International Growth, Shopify walks us through all that the platform has been doing and how that has helped support these businesses during these adverse times.
The lockdown has hurt most businesses and sectors across the world. Most are now working on ways to weather the storm, to come out of it with minimal damage. However, the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) have had to face massive losses.

It is no surprise that the MSMEs have been the focus of the government’s relief packages because without external assistance, it will be difficult for most of these businesses to sail through.

This is where Shopify, a Canada-based e-commerce company comes in. Since its inception, the company has been working on empowering entrepreneurs by helping them create and develop their businesses by removing the barriers that exist in selling online.

While it has been helping power businesses in around 175 countries around the world, in India, it has worked with brands such as Nush by Anushka Sharma, Raymonds, Blue Tokai, WoW Cosmetics, Starstruck and John Jacobs eyewear, to name a few. The role of Shopify is to help these organizations operate and grow their business across their own direct-to-consumer website, online marketplaces, and social networks, while remaining in full control of their business.

As a part of their efforts to support these MSMEs during the lockdown when many of these businesses have been adversely impacted, Shopify came up with a range of offers to help small and medium businesses across India adjust to the new normal and to help them increase efficiency while selling online. The aim of these offers was to make it easier for businesses to get back on their feet by helping them offer their customers with a good shopping experience, while also helping reduce monthly costs. According to the platform, merchants using the platform can save over Rs 1 lakh in partner credits through Shopify’s eCommerce solutions from industry-leading service partners.

We recently caught up with Sandeep Komaravelly, Director of International Growth, Shopify, who told us all about the platform and its efforts towards supporting MSMEs.


Q) MSMEs have had to face the brunt of low consumer spends. What has your priority as an organization been in these last few weeks to make things easier for these businesses?

Shopify helps entrepreneurs as they transform an idea into a business. We offer a platform so easy to use that merchants are free to focus on developing their products rather than overcoming technical limitations. Analyzing the impact of the pandemic in India and an in-depth analysis of how consumer behavior has changed, we have created solutions for merchants looking to set up and grow their online business. Through our network we are extending attractive offers from partners across categories. Over Rs 1 Lakh in partner credits can be saved with these offers from leading technology, solution and service partners such as Razorpay, PayTM, Shiprocket, Adyogi and Delhivery to name a few. We also hosted our first-ever virtual Reunite session in May to introduce our latest innovations on Shopify to help merchants from across the world future-proof their businesses. We have introduced a number of new features, such as Shopify Email, Pick-up, Express themes, etc for merchants in India.

Q) What kind of impact has there been on SMEs and MSMEs? Have you come across businesses that have had to shut shop due to the Covid impact?

Even in usual circumstances, SMEs and MSME’s are more vulnerable to competition or the slightest change in the market. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has impacted the growth of their business. They have been facing major challenges like lack of financing, delay in payments, paused production and fall in consumer demand. Having shared this, in spite of the hurdles it has been inspiring to see the strong resilience showcased by the SME community. They have been agile and quick to adapt to the new normal of digitization. We have seen SMEs taking their business online and setting up e-stores to reach out to their customers in the fastest possible manner. There are some who are also selling masks and protective equipment addressing the need of the hour of their customers

Q) What were some of the major challenges that these merchants faced during the lockdown days? How have you been able to help?

The most immediate challenge for a merchant has been to be agile in moving online to safeguard their businesses and facilitating local delivery. In an immediate response to the challenges faced by merchants we have released a new one-page theme called Express that enables merchants to get online quickly. As of March 20, selling gift cards has been available to all merchants, and Shopify has seen more merchants utilizing this feature than ever before. We also introduced Shopify Email that helps merchants build more meaningful relationships with their customers, and to make email marketing easy and accessible to businesses who are new to digital marketing. Shopify also offers merchants flexibility to enable pickups, they can set up the option for customers to pick up their online orders at your retail store or any location that they choose.

Q) You work with a lot of partners. How has this integration and collaborative model helped you strengthen your offering?

Shopify’s partner ecosystem acts as a moat to the company. Developers build apps (plugins) for merchants that act as an extended feature set and help in greater product market fit across the world. Developers sell these apps globally through the Shopify app store and have built million dollar businesses out of India. India has always been the biggest export hub for software services. Service partners on Shopify help merchants build a website, design, do digital marketing and every possible service that an ecommerce merchant needs. This ecosystem helps merchants use Shopify in a Do-It-For-Me manner, and focus more time on their business and growth. We are presently working to grow our influencer network in India like we have in the US. Bloggers, Youtubers, educators et al help new entrepreneurs learn the specifics of ecommerce and how Shopify can be a platform that supports their business end to end.

Q) What kind of business impact have you faced as an organization during the lockdown?

One of the key trends that we have seen during this period is the demand for shopping locally. More than ever, merchants need efficient ways to connect with their local customers today and in the future. Globally, average daily local orders on Shopify for the six weeks ending April 24, grew by 176%, compared to the prior six weeks, coinciding with the introduction of physical distancing measures. As of April 24, 26% of brick-and-mortar merchants in Shopify’s English-speaking geographies were using some form of local pickup and delivery solution, compared to just 2% at the end of February. Shopify is accelerating and shipping products that will help merchants future proof their businesses. Historically, necessity breeds innovation. By making it easy to start and maintain a business, we continue to help merchants bring to life the innovations spurred by this unprecedented world event. We remain committed to removing the barriers that exist for merchants starting new businesses.

Q) As we are slowly coming out of the lockdown, what were your learnings as a leader?

We realize even more that preparedness is key and this refers to multiple scenarios. It is important that as organizations and business leaders we are quick to adapt to any given situation. It is also important to dedicate time and effort towards keeping employee morale high especially in situations like this. A dedicated and highly motivated workforce will strengthen any organization and ensure a joint effort towards meeting organization goals even during a downfall.