The countdown to the roll-out of the goods and services tax, or GST, has begun. The government, enterprises, regulators and consumers are gearing up to handle the tax implications of “one-country one-market structure”. A lot has already been written about how enterprises can prepare for GST. However, in my opinion, GST is not just a financial reform, but a broader business reform. It has the potential to relook at how enterprises conduct their business in India.
With GST, enterprises have an opportunity to revamp systems, go beyond the physical constraints of supply chain, and focus on what matters the most for any business—customer experience! It doesn’t just stop there. With delinking of the physical footprint from direct tax implications, enterprises can use this opportunity to move beyond physical structures, ‘go digital’ and provide digital experiences.
But first, why digital? Digital is the norm in today’s era as consumers respond more when they have better digital experiences. A recent study conducted by SAP concludes that a great digital experience directly correlates with customer loyalty and advocacy.
The outcomes of the study indicate that consumers who are delighted with a brand’s digital experience are almost 10 times more likely to remain loyal than those dissatisfied with it. Moreover, consumers ‘delighted’ with the digital experience of a brand are significantly more likely to recommend the brand, to the tune of positive 77%, versus a negative 60% for dissatisfied experience. A poor digital experience these days causes more harm to a brand than just a lost sale. Negative word of mouth in digital spreads faster and wider, resulting in ‘switching economy’. A successful digital experience strategy lends enterprises the ability to serve customer needs through personalization.
What has GST got to do with the digital experience? GST has a much wider impact on the way enterprises will conduct business in India. It is change from physical to digital. As enterprises take steps to comply with the GST regime, they must use new agile models of sourcing and delivery through a better supply chain.
Free up working capital: The other big benefit of GST is to free up working capital. A recent study from CARE Ratings concluded that GST could help to reduce logistics costs by up to 20% from current levels. These potential savings can help the enterprises to build a digital footprint instead of the traditional route of investing in new offices for a bigger physical footprint.
Level playing field: One of the direct implications of GST that I foresee is the level playing field that GST provides for enterprises of all sizes. Imagine what the Indian Premier League (IPL) did to Indian cricket. Today, we see players from across the world getting uniform exposure on a globally competitive platform. Similarly, GST unifies and simplifies tax structures across all Indian states, ensuring enterprises of reduced barriers to entry and allowing the ability to compete equally.
Bigger play for SMEs: For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are usually more cash-strapped, there is potential to save and reinvest in growth and redefine business prospects.
Personalization and real-time pricing strategy: More information allows enterprises to use sophisticated analytics tools, offer personalized experiences to a diversified base of customers that opens up opportunities for pricing strategies to be more real time and tailored for various business segments.
As businesses take steps to adapt to the new GST regime, it is an opportunity to ‘go digital’ and redefine the business processes.
Deb Deep Sengupta is president and managing director, SAP Indian subcontinent.