Getting lost in Higginbothams – amazing bookshop in Chennai

You can get lost in Higginbothams – or, at least, I have!

On Chennai’s Mount Road, Higginbothams has stood tall and proud since 1844. Said to be the oldest bookstore in India, it was founded by Abel Joshua Higginbotham—an India-born Englishman.

After an unsatisfying career as a seamen, Higginbotham became the manager of a bookstore in the basement of a Methodist chapel. He bought and ran the store for 60 years with his youngest son, before switching to the current Mount Road location.

The bookshop is housed in a grand, colonial structure and still carries an old world charm with wooden furniture and tall stained-glass windows.


LIC Building, 116, Anna Salai, near Regional Passport Office, Chennai.

Tech innovation is not just about tech – it needs a basis of deep understanding of your business

Sundaram Business Services has a deep understanding of Australian business.

Indian firms like Sundaram Business Services in Chennai and Australia should be on your radar for tech innovation – in addition to their tech innovation capabilities, SBS has been active in Australian business for many years and knows the business environment very well.

A KPMG survey ranks India third among countries that show the most promise for tech innovation.

Tech innovation is most successful when the supplier has a deep understanding of your business. This is like a mantra for the SBS group – building innovation on the sound basis of business understanding.

There has to be cross cultural understanding and good communication.

Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or other innovation, success is gained when the supplier has the capacity to how your business works and what your needs are in the market.

More than 800 industry leaders were surveyed for the report which said 39 per cent believe global ‘hub’ cities such as London, Singapore, and Tel Aviv will continue to play a vital role, enabling talent to coalesce and collaborate in communities with a solid digital infrastructure.

India a prime target for Aussie exports and investment – Austrade

Austrade’s Ashley Brosnan puts the case for Australian businesses to quickly get into India:

Australian businesses continue to see opportunities across a range of sectors including education, mining and resources, infrastructure, agri-food, and digital services. Thanks to the steady success of some great Australian brands, Australia is already a trusted supplier and investor.

However, India remains a challenging place do business. Expansion requires a high degree of market literacy and on-the-ground experience. Local partners help exporters and investors to navigate markets and regulation – and these partners can prove invaluable.

Despite this, the Government of India has signalled that India is ‘open for business’. It is emphasising investment and competitiveness as factors that will support the economy and encourage a return to growth.

The effects can be observed already in global rankings. India has moved up 63 places in the World Bank ‘ease of doing business’ rankings in recent years.

Austrade is helping Australian companies to explore India

The Australian Government is investing heavily in developing commercial links between Australia and India. The Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreed by Prime Ministers in June 2020 creates further opportunities for Australian business.

The Partnership seeks to build supply chain resilience between the two countries. It strengthens and diversifies trade and investment links with a focus on education, critical minerals and technology cooperation.

Today, Austrade posts across India are working intensively with Australian businesses to understand market, identify opportunities, make connections and help companies negotiate contracts.

India consumer spending skyrockets

India’s consumer spending a “revolution”

Austrade’s Ashley Brosnan on India’s consumer spending “revolution”:

The biggest revolution taking place is the rapid rise of a huge, diverse and wealthy consumer market. Despite the impacts of the pandemic, domestic demand is likely to be a major driver of recovery and growth over the next decade, making up 60% of the overall economy.

E-commerce is taking off as smartphone usage multiplies. India already has over 1 billion internet users and the digital economy’s contribution to GDP is projected to grow 15–20% by 2024.

Incomes are also rising strongly. India’s median income per household is expected to reach A$13,867 by 2025. The World Economic Forum considers that consumer expenditure in India will grow by a factor of four up to 2030.

This means over 80% of Indian households will be middle-income in 2030 – an increase of 140 million. Another 20 million will be considered high income.

India’s emerging and aspirational middle class is seeking premium food and beverage, healthy lifestyle products, technical infrastructure, quality healthcare and education, entertainment and consumer goods.

Trends in consumer demand are encouraged by a substantial, highly-skilled Indian diaspora in Australia, which is set to number 1.4 million in 2031.

India’s millennials drive a shift to consumer demand

India’s millennials – what a shock – are borrowing for consumables.

This is a massive generational shift in India where previous generations believed in first saving and then buying – even if it took years or ultimately going without.

Consumer credit companies such as TVS Credit and Bajaj Finserv have been increasing the share of their offerings to these niche segments not covered by conventional lenders and NBFCs.

The loans are known as EMI’s (equated monthly instalments) and are used to buy various goods, including mobile phones, consumer durables and small-ticket items on easy, no-cost EMIs via loans or credit cards.

It is the segment of youthful, low-income but tech-savvy consumers that fintech lenders are targeting – half the small loans are of Rs5,000 or less.

The country’s largest AI-enabled consumer lending platform, ZestMoney, noted in a report that it had seen more than 125% growth in EMI funding.

E-commerce majors such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, Decathlon and Paytm, among others, have seen a substantial surge in online sales in the past year due to EMI financing schemes – and digital payments mean no cash.

The New India is not afraid of debt – signalling a major uplift in consumer demand for decades to come.

India adopting digital payments as Covid spurs rapid move away from cash

I am a big fan of The Hindu Business Line and one of their recent reports shows a big shift in India to digital payments – the cash economy, so long a burden for India, is dying out as a result of Covid and long-term Modi Government efforts.

This has massive positive implications for GST income for government.

Business Line reported that ACI Worldwide released a new report that indicated more than 70.3 billion real-time payments transactions were processed globally in 2020, a surge of 41 per cent compared to the previous year.

This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated trends away from cash and cheques towards greater reliance on real-time and digital payments, according to the study.

According to the report, India retained the top spot with 25.5 billion real-time payments transactions, followed by China with 15.7 bn transactions.

In 2020, the transaction volume share in India stood at 15.6 per cent and 22.9 per cent for instant payments and other electronic payments respectively, while paper-based payments had a considerable share of 61.4 per cent.

The report speculated that by 2024 the share of real-time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50 per cent. This will further touch 71.7 per cent by 2025.

“India’s journey of creating a digital financial infrastructure has been characterized by collaboration between the government, the regulator, banks, and fintech. This has helped to advance the country’s goal of enabling financial inclusion and also provided rapid payment digitization for citizens. The pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital payments with many first-time users adopting digital payments and significant uplift by merchants,” said Kaushik Roy, VP, and head of product management, Asia, ME, and Africa, ACI Worldwide.

India and Australia have a trade relationship that can grow

A great source of information about Asia is ASIALINK here in Australia – and for those interested in India their INDIA STARTER PACK is valuable.

Australia’s economic relationship with India has expanded significantly in recent years – particularly exports of minerals and energy, as well as our provision of education services to tens of thousands of Indian students.

We now have the basis to do more. It will take some marketing creativity and a realisation that brand “Australia” goes down well in India.

Two-way goods and services trade between Australia and India totalled AUD 27.4 billion in 2017. Major Australian exports to India included coal (AUD 9.2 billion), education-related travel (AUD 3.4 billion) and vegetables (AUD 1.38 billion). Our main imports from India were refined petroleum (AUD 1.6 billion), medicines (AUD 335 million), pearls and gems (AUD 274 million) railway vehicles (AUD 199 million). 

The total value of Australian goods exports to India for 2017 was AUD 15.7 billion, making it our fifth-largest goods export market. We exported an additional AUD 4.4 billion in services to India, a figure primarily made up of education-related travel services and other personal travel.

Time to review your India market entry strategy? Let’s talk.

India’s “festive season” runs to the end of the year – brands should take the digital advertising route

Right from August, India gets into a festive mood.

In India this is the time to shop. But what about this year, with the impact of Covid19?

Sanjay Mehta is the Joint CEO of digital marketing consultancy Mirum India and he has some sound advice for brands and the festive season.

“What should you do to become a winning brand? Yes, you’ll certainly want to do marketing, but what specifically? It may not be the best time to experiment with expensive brand campaigns, simply because the lack of measurability of such campaigns makes it difficult to evaluate impact. Your key objective would be to spend money to deliver the best ROI in this challenging year.

“Digital advertising is the most potent weapon for a marketer to reach the consumer. After all, the Covid era has definitely seen significantly increased online time spends by the consumer. And the high level of measurability on digital allows you to do extremely result oriented marketing.

“Digital advertising is often used as a catch-all term to cover several different types of online marketing strategies, but what you should include in your media plan is a good combination of search engine marketing, some programmatic display ads — most certainly social media ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc — video ads, and maybe a good influencer marketing programme as well.

“In these last few months of stay-at-home, we have seen several edtech, fintech and healthcare brands create a huge market for themselves, solely using such digital advertising means.

“The overarching recommendation is to have a good budget apportioned for digital advertising, and spend it prudently on the best result-producing media, to ensure high impact” Sanjay says.

He also advises brands to be set up for selling online.

“Additionally, owing to the consumer now getting used to the convenience of online shopping, ensure that your brands are well-set up to be sold online, and provide the consumer a very seamless experience shopping at your online store.

“Get set for digital fireworks in your marketing mix for the festival season and have a happy Diwali for your business!” he concludes.

So – get involved and active in India’s festive season.

E-commerce and wellness trends spark new opportunities in South Asia, says Austrade

The health & wellness trend

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers in South Asia have focused on boosting their health and immunity. This is a sector where Australian companies have already made commercial inroads — and more opportunities will arise. Australia’s iconic wellness brand, Swisse, reacted quickly and is now selling across 10 major e-commerce platforms in India.

Indian consumers are highly receptive to Australian wellness products. Consumers appreciate our clean, green and reliable manufacturing standards, and these high standards confer an automatic brand premium on Australian wellness products.

Similarly, there is increased demand across South Asia for products that are perceived to boost people’s immune system. In India and Bangladesh this applies to fresh produce, and in particular to Manuka honey. The demand for Australian citrus in Bangladesh has remained high this year, even during the local harvest season.

E-commerce: the next big shift

The rapid growth of e-commerce in the health and wellness sector is accelerating opportunities for Australian companies and South Asia is uniquely poised for a boom. With a combined 670 million internet users – and over 130 million online shoppers – the region is the second largest mass market for Australian companies, second only to China.

Growth in regional e-commerce is rapid. Online retail clocked A$75 billion in sales across South Asia in 2018–19. With year-on-year growth of over 40 per centthe region’s internet economy is forecast to be worth more than A$200 billion within the next five years.

Based on market observations by Austrade in South Asia, we forecast that the market for Australian e-commerce products will grow exponentially in the coming years. This applies especially to health, beauty, nutraceuticals and processed-food products.

The impact on Australian exporters

These two consumer trends – a growing appetite for wellness goods and enthusiasm for e-commerce – create good scope for Australian companies wanting to diversify their export markets to the South Asia region. Australian companies with a brand narrative that speaks to health and immunity will likely find ready markets among consumers.

Thanks to Austrade for the above analysis

India attracting investment during the pandemic and USA is the largest trading partner for a second year

Since March, India has received over $20 billion of new investment from Western companies despite the pandemic.

Thanks to John Bell, Client Relations, Amritt, Inc, Malibu California for this information.

Here are  four examples of significant improvement in bilateral trade between the two countries (India and USA) during the pandemic:

Dozens of large and small organizations depend on Amritt as their trusted advisor to succeed in India, whether selling, sourcing or leveraging talent.

You can Email John Bell at johnb@amritt.com