The current crisis has impacted multiple industries and e-commerce was also impacted badly during the initial phase of the pandemic. Currently, the sector is getting back on track with consumers making handsome purchases. But, navigating through this route was a tough task. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Parul Mathur shares how is she managing the people, what role technology is playing, and the road ahead for the organization. Read the edited excerpts here-
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the big e-commerce merchants in the last few months. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
What seemed like an impact initially has swiftly turned into an opportunity for the e-commerce industry. The pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in consumer behavior as over 50% of the consumers are in limbo and continue to prefer staying indoors. The compulsive increase in the digital adoption originating from the series of lockdowns has led to a sharp rise in the number of visitors per month on most e-commerce platforms. The industry has seen over 35% increases in the overall leads in the first quarter of FY21. The businesses which are able to decipher the evolving consumer mindset and match it with the right technology will be able to take a sustainable leap ahead in the longer run.
How do you think the role of technology in the e-commerce sector will evolve in the next two to three years?
The opportunity arising from the current pandemic scenario can be converted into a potential benefit, only if technology can back the entire thought process. The use of evolving technology, especially for an online born industry such as e-commerce continues to play a critical role in aiming for the next orbit of growth. The world after the pandemic and the coming 2-3 years will be crucial in driving consumer centricity basis the evolving consumer behavior. Companies will have to continue reinventing the wheel to come up with solutions that provide their consumers with the experience that they desire for.
The use of technology will be equally crucial to bring more merchants online to match consumer requirements. A vast opportunity lies in the SME sector which counts for the quarter of India’s $3 trillion economies and has over 60 million SMEs working offline. The challenge will be to tap into this market with agility and consistent initiatives to educate the SMEs about the enormous growth possibilities using technology and customized online business tools.
The e-commerce industry has witnessed a significant shift in employee engagement/employee experience space. What should organizations do to create equilibrium between technology and human touch?
The employee mindset shift is not just limited to the e-commerce industry and has been noted across industries and geographies. The responsibility for the employers under the current pandemic has increased many folds as they are being seen as the most credible source of information about the crisis.
Taking care of the emotional well-being of the employees is the top priority for most organizations and even with the limitation of virtual connect it is being ensured. It is important that the organizations start leveraging technology to shift almost everything starting from morning huddles, reviews, meetings, R&Rs, birthday celebrations, employee engagement sessions, or farewells to the virtual world.
The aim should be to create virtual organizations with the only difference of zero commute time and flexible work environment to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The current situation is exacerbated by staff shortages, inadequate digital maturity, and pressure on the existing infrastructure as firms scramble to deal with the impact of COVID-19. As a people leader, how are you navigating through these challenges?
It will be better to call the pandemic an opportunity for people leaders than a challenge as it has given them a chance to increase the productivity levels of the employees. The first and foremost important step is to provide the right infrastructure to the employees by providing them the required hardware and software at their home. Next is to bring them into a habit of following the usual protocols of attendance marking, following office hours, attending meetings, etc in a virtual manner. Manpower crunch has actually turned the remaining employees extremely productive and given them an opportunity to explore multiple roles.
The reduction of physical transactional work has given them a window to enhance their skill set and learn new ones leading to organizational benefit.
Digital maturity was always subjective and directly linked to the unwillingness to adopt the new technology which is not the case anymore. The compulsive requirement to use various online tools for business has only added to the digital evolution of organizations.
Lastly, how are you dealing with this crisis? What are some personal challenges you think leaders often face in these tough times? How are you ensuring that you keep calm, sail through, and help others also in these tough times? Share your tips.
I strongly believe that the crisis is just a state of mind. While the pandemic is definitely a health challenge worldwide, it has also brought a welcome change in the way most of us always wanted to maintain the work-life balance. The fact that my family is around me all the time in the current work style gives me immense peace leading to more efficiency, speed, and logical approach in my day to day working. Most of us are saving a considerable amount of commute time, which gives us enough time to spend some much-needed quality time with our families and ensure their emotional well being. Besides this, the flexibility of work hours and low distraction turns the overall work experience much more productive which every professional dream for. My advice to all is to look at the brighter side of things and utilize the current period to rejuvenate, evolve, and invest time in their healthy mind state. It’s not every day that God gives you the control to press the reset button and reboot the way you have been leading your life.