Online business: opportunities and challenges

According to Statista, in 2017, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online; in addition to that astounding statistic, global ‘e-retail sales’ were estimated to have reached dollar 2.3 trillion (US).That number is predicted to almost double by 2021, hitting approximately dollar4.48 trillion(US).While domestic opportunities of e-commerce abound, there continues to be a divergence between the level of online sales in various regions worldwide. Online business or e-commerce provides multiple benefits to the consumers in the form of availability of goods at lower cost, wider choice and saves time. People can now buy goods with a click of mouse button without moving out of their house or office. Similarly, online services such as banking, ticketing, bill payments, hotel booking etc. have been of tremendous benefit for the customers. In the present situation of the covid crisis more and more opportunities are surging in the field of online business.

E-commerce is one of the most exciting spaces for today’s global online community, and India’s young start up economy is along for the ride. With more than 100 million internet users, the country is beginning to achieve a critical mass of users who are familiar with web services. Number of online users in India is on a sharp rise as the market is building; new customers are getting acquired every day. Mobile and smartphone usage is on an increasing rate where users are switching to smart phones for internet and there is a rise in mobile shopping. According to a study released by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Interlink Advisors, about 150 million people in India or around 75 million households are ready for ecommerce in India today. However, less than 10 million are engaged in active e-commerce today. The digital economy and e-commerce boom are creating unprecedented opportunities for governments and business to work together to craft an environment that will create jobs and grow global prosperity.

However, even with unlimited opportunities in online businesses, there are some challenges being encountered by this industry. From finding the right products to sell and attracting the perfect customer, there are several issues to be appropriately tackled to be a pioneer in this business. Consumers ask for recommendations and read product reviews online before they land up on a brand. Lots have changed including the way the customers consume content and communicate online. Retailers must figure out where their audience is and how to attract them efficiently without killing their marketing budget. With digital marketing channels evolving, retailers must effectively leverage SEO, PPC, email, social, display ads, retargeting, mobile, shopping engines and affiliates to help drive qualified traffic to their online store. Online retailers should capture quality leads and keep nurturing the ideal prospects. Converting shoppers into paying customers and retaining customers are other areas to be successful in the online industry.

Changing the business scenario: online world takes over

The Covid 19 pandemic challenges leaders to stabilize amid a crisis and prepare for a newly uncertain future. The decisions businesses make in the near term will most likely drive how the entity is sustained in the long term. More business and social activities have moved online- and are staying there. Perhaps there’s growing respect for public institutions and medical expertise, and a new appreciation for reliable information when lives are on the line. The world is going to be different after the lockdown. Not just business but even the lifestyle and attitude of people towards things that have been taken for granted. Technology will be remembered for its major role during the lockdown and in fighting the pandemic.

The online world is influencing the way businesses and brands operate. Interactions with customers have changed considerable with tech savvy companies introducing innovative methods of connecting with, and marketing to, potential clients through various kinds of applications. Companies are now creating high-quality and appealing product images that have a curated feel and highlight the classic nature and reliability of their product. Companies are now employing ways to know which metrics are most important to company success, the customer channels that are effective, procuring employees with analytical skills to process data and creating content that is personalized and customer focused. Transparency is another key factor that decides the success of a company in the online world. For those businesses that are transparent and do communicate only with customers, the reward is loyalty with 94% of consumers claiming to stick with a company that offers transparency and 73% would be willing to pay more for a product that offers it. Personalization is a powerful tool, as 85% of users are more likely to buy a product if the message is personalized and supported by social. Companies now no longer need to hire celebrities to endorse their products in order to get millions of people interested in their product or service. To achieve digital success, businesses across industries need to be aware of the pace of change and invest in learning and develop initiatives that ensure their workforce. The online industry is highly competitive which has encouraged the brands to be innovative using creative ways to reach out and engage with the customers. Due to booming popularity and influence, social media marketing should be an essential marketing strategy for a company as customers need to trust and understand the company they are buying from.

We should expect that the covid-19 crisis will change our businesses and society in important ways. It will for sure fuel the online world with companies configuring their supply chains and reinforcing the trend away from dependence on few mega-factories. It is likely that the crisis will create unpredictable fluctuations. Put in place rapid-reporting cycles so that you can understand how your business is being affected, where mitigation is required, and how quickly operations are recovering. A crisis does not imply immunity from performance management, and sooner or later markets will judge which companies managed the challenge most effectively.

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Budding Youtubers : Online possibilities in lock down period

The present scenario of the Covid 19 crisis has created tremendous opportunities online. The new normal of social distancing and staying at home has prompted to look for novel concepts to get the job accomplished. The availability of internet facilities worldwide became a boon at this juncture of pandemic crisis with effortless rendering of communication between tangibly detached people. Internet usage has surged up to 30% in Kerala following the nationwide lockdown to counter the spread of corona virus. It is noticed that with people being forced to spent most of their time staying indoors there is an increased usage of online entertainment platforms. Online platforms widely used during this lockdown period are-YouTube, Netflix, online games and online movies. Employing this odd circumstance which requires physical distancing, many youngsters have resorted to opportunities online to entertain and embark a career suiting their interest while earning a decent income. Many youngsters, even celebrities started YouTube channels during this lock down period thus making the best use of this situation as an opportunity to explore their talents.youtube-studio-kerala

The YouTube channels not only create popularity but also give an opportunity of monetization through advertising. The money received depends upon the views the video garners and once the channel gains fame, winning views is not a difficult task. Not only youngsters but stay at home mothers and even elderly people start vlogging according to their area of interest harnessing the opportunity online to gratify their passion. The main attraction of starting YouTube channels is obtaining reputation in short span of time by entertaining people in the finest capacity of the youtuber. A stay at home mother may start a cookery channel where as a college student may start a channel describing beauty tips, there are tech experts who explains technology related information through their channels and casual vloggers who show home tours, home décor, art and craft etc. The biggest advantage of vlogging is the availability of cameras or even mobile phones with supreme quality cameras and sound technology that support a youtuber to easily start vlogging at the convenience of his home. According to Google Trends, YouTube searches for “how to start a YouTube channel” increased by 230% between 14 march and 4 may, while searches for “how to edit videos” increased by 225% over the same period.

YouTube influencer agencies say, gaining more views dependupon finding a new twist on a popular topic, for example, beauty looks inspired from movies, celebrities etc. With the concept of home schooling now widespread, explainer videos in education is also popular. The most important consideration for popularizing a YouTube channel requires the selection of the right content for the videos that would attract the viewers. If a youtuber is lucky enough to have a video go viral, it is more than enough for his channel to grow in no time and earn considerable amount of money. Consistency is also another factor, launching the same number of relevant videos at the same time each week. Taking trending topics and naming them in exciting ways would also help to make the channel get noticed.YouTube has also grown to be a platform for child vloggers during their lock down period to quash their boredom and enhance their creativity to fame and fortune. Budding youtubers are now in search of myriad themes to improve viewership of their channels habitually boosting their spilling creativity.

Covid 19 and online education

The Covid 19 crisis has severely affected the education sector in the state. The schools and colleges have now resorted to the online mode of education which has many challenges to be tackled. The teachers and students being physically aloof need to cater to the sessions at their own private space. When insidea class, a teacher couldinfluence and inspire the students to comprehend the subject better but through the online mode teachers have limited capacity to judge the understanding of the students. A draft policy of higher education council in Kerala recommended forming training programs to tackle challenges from online classes. The government is thinking of initiating special projects to develop online tools and maintain them. Constant teacher’s training program will be undertaken in the better use of online medium and training will be given to students as well.

The availability of internet at remote areas and its speed and bandwidth will also play a crucial role in the quality delivery of education through the online mode. Still there are several areas in Kerala with remote access that do not have rapid internet facility. The students residing in those places will be at stake to utilize online facility to the best of their capability. Interestingly India is at once the second-largest Internet- connected market and also the most untapped market with over 900 million yet to have access to the internet. Even if internet facility is made accessible, the issue of attainment of personalized devices like smartphones, laptops or tablets would call for the requirement of huge funds to purchase them. TheKerala government is also ensuring that the lessons at government schools are taught through television. Lessons are delivered through Victers channel, the complete educational channel of the state which telecast programs of educational value and general awareness. But students who have economically meeker background would suffer due to the unavailability of television at home. Quite shockingly there were some suicides and suicidal attempts by students whose meagre backgrounds dejected them with the unavailability of a television to resume their studies.

The covid 19 crisis has paved a way for the proliferation of different strains of online sessions and a series of webinars to train the teachers and students. The academic community is buzzing with activity in its new work from home status. The rapid advancements in Information and Communications technology is evident in every domain today, and its expertise can be adapted into the field of education keeping it intact without faltering in this bizarre circumstance. The challenges in the field of online education if better addressed can be lessened by appropriate coachingbeing provided to the teachers. The recording and online presentation of subjects displaya teacher’s demeanor and competency, but preparation and training would enrich their efficiency and improve their likability among students. Schools in Kerala are at the helm of providing quality online education especially government schools which are now experimenting with sophisticated technology like augmented reality

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