With substantial implications for traditional classroom instruction, the sector is experiencing a major transformation, with both instructors and students rising to the challenge and embracing e-learning. Applause is due for not just adapting to e-learning but also for beginning to thrive in it. Students may go through course content at their own speed and time with online learning.

According to early study, online learning increases information retention, according to a paper released by the World Economic Forum. This has just strengthened the case that it is here to stay, even in the post-Covid-19 era. Because of its inherent advantages, such as minimal infrastructure costs and on-demand access, online education is expected to gain traction among students and instructors and develop to a $1.96 billion business (from 247MN in 2018). Online education also has a broader reach, since it now allows students in even the most remote regions of the country to receive a decent education. Furthermore, government programs such as Skill India and Digital India will provide students with the necessary infrastructure to learn online

As the major disruption caused by the pandemic led to students studying from home, the teachers and management at the center had to shift their approach towards e-learning, therefore needing the equipment required to set up virtual classrooms. As they lacked ready infrastructure, easy procurement became a key challenge while setting up. This is where they turned to online B2B marketplaces as a one stop destination for all their needs.

Many such user stories have emerged over the last year indicating the need for seamless procurement for both small and large education institutions. As we adapt to the new normal, one can witness a clear synergy between e-commerce and e-learning as B2B online marketplaces emerge as a one stop destination for all educational requirements, online as well as traditional classrooms.

B2B marketplaces acts as a catalyst for adoption of e-learning  

Educational institutes usually operate on a tight procurement budget and depending on the size of the institute in terms of students, staff and area, their requirements also differ. To cater to their procurement needs, every institute needs a systematic purchasing solution which can be easily addressed by B2B marketplaces.

Given the width of requirements of these institutions, they need to spend a lot of time to identify vendors and evaluate quotes. This bottleneck is completely eliminated with the wide array of products across multiple categories on the B2B marketplaces. Along with the wide selection available at the fingertips, institutions also get products at reasonable prices, coupled with a robust delivery system and the option to order in bulk. B2B marketplaces have also focused on adding features such has multi-user accounts that enhance account security, compliance tools such as shared payment methods and purchase approval and sophisticated analytics tools to provide a detailed view on spends and savings to education institutes.

The logistics part of the procurement can prove to be a challenge for these institutions. With many of them located in the remote areas, a lot of them rely on their local networks, resulting in constant delays in getting products on time and managing returns in case the products are defective. B2B marketplaces address this with a wide delivery network across the country, including tier II cities and rural areas, which ensure on-time delivery and a seamless returns and replacement benefit.

Sellers on online marketplaces are equipped to offer quantity discounts on bulk purchases resulting in additional savings for the customers.

As students and institutions continue to adopt e-learning, the current pandemic scenario has fast tracked its evolution as an essential service. As the shift promotes learning methods to be more portable, flexible and personalized, there is also a need to ensure steady infrastructure requirements of education institutions are met. This is where they can leverage e-commerce as a trusted partner to empower and enable e-learning to the remotest parts of India.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in Times of India. The original article can be found at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/b2b-e-commerce-a-key-catalyst-in-enabling-and-empowering-e-learning-in-india/)