In the 2-month long lockdown forced by COVID-19, spending by investors as well as end-users has dropped significantly and India’s mobility industry suffered a big downturn, as much as other industries. The only sector that saw positive outcomes is the pharma industry. The severe economic shocks felt at present are expected to continue for at least another six months before they subside gradually in the second half of FY2020-21. According to observers, unless something extraordinary happens, India will have over 1,000,000 infected cases by the end of July 2020. The situation would be worse than a direct war with an enemy country.
The COVID-19 has come under control in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan from where most of the mobility and IT products are imported. Now the imports come with 10-15% higher prices, and little or no credit. Sales are down for the past 2 months, stocks are lying unsold and the entire nation has come nearly to a grinding halt. Many IT & Mobility companies are focusing on Work From Home (WFH) to partly cover up their needs. Though COVID-19 started late in India, the number of cases is expected to rise exponentially in the coming months and hit 1,000,000 by the end of July 2020, unless it comes under control miraculously. The Indian government has been taking drastic measures to control the spread of COVID-19 through locking down cities and districts, blocking all the transportation services, imposing curfews, etc. Now to the relief of the industry, lockdown restrictions are being eased and public transport about to start. Govt also announced Rs 20 lakh crore (USD 260 Billion) and the industry looks forward with hope and optimism.
As the COVID-19 spread remains unabated and uncertainty still looming large, industries are considering ways to minimize the risks and prepare to deal with the future. An effective plan for any company, big or medium, should include establishing an interdisciplinary crisis response team to identify, assess, and manage the risk presented.
COVID-9 is a rude reminder of how fragile and susceptible our economic and industrial systems are even in the 21st century. While dealing effectively with the crisis in the short-term, the IT and mobility companies must take cues from this episode and prepare contingency plans for the long-term. Online promotion, work from home (WFH), eCommerce, videoconferencing, remote delivery, etc are expected to get a major boost in the coming months and years. Business based more on cash, lesson credit is expected to become the new norm. Some believe that the COVID-19 crisis propel India to become a major manufacturing hub with companies looking for alternatives bases for China. Below, we are presenting the opinions of several leading industry players, executives, and brand owners in the mobility industry.
Opinions of the companies on the Impact of COVID-19 on Mobility Industry and their Expectations
With the number of COVID-19 cases expected to cross 1,000,000 by the end of July 2020, we have no idea when this pandemic will leave us, and also it is difficult to judge the post-COVID-19 scenario with any accuracy. All that we can do is hope for the best, prepare for the worst and draw foresight from the industry experiences and opinions of experts.
Ajay Arora, CEO, Matata India Pvt Ltd, shares, “Despite the negative impact on the health of the people and the economy, we believe that COVID19 has made the society introspect its lifestyle choices. Optimized usage of resources, innovation in dealing with day-to-day requirements, and realization of the value of the available resources are some of the positives that are expected to come out of this crisis. After COVID-19, individuals and society will emerge stronger than ever before. India continues to be one of the largest economies and will continue to be after COVID19 is gone. Like every dark cloud has a silver lining, COVID-19 will drive the WFH, online education, and will bring people closer despite social distancing becoming the new normal. The concept of 8-hr working will change for a significant number of companies and employees. By the time the pandemic comes under control and the curve starts flattening worldwide, people would have learned to work within limited or constrained resources and this will make them self-reliant and well-equipped to accept and handle such eventualities in future.”
Mr. Yogesh Bhatia, Founder & CEO, Detel, expresses, “There will be greater adoption of WORK FROM HOME principle and WFH can also help organizations save money.”
Mr. Mandeep Arora, Co-Founder, UBON, shares, “The COVID-19 has made a drastic impact on the way people work and economies function worldwide. Due to this pandemic, people are now rushing towards the markets for buying essential products in bulk due to panic, which is not right, and will result in making the situation even worse. As per the Central Government guidelines, they had made it clear that all essential commodities are available in abundance, and there will be no shortage of the products. Talking about our tech industry which is largely dependent on Chinese vendors for components, device designing, and manufacturing, COVID-19 has caused significant disruption to the supply chain globally. The closing down of Chinese factories and supply networks for over a month has further dented the consumer electronics business. Additionally, future reductions in carbon emissions could lead to a renewed emphasis on sustainable practices. The COVID-19 is affecting the supply of raw materials, disrupting the value chain of electronics, thereby increasing the commodity inflation threats. More importantly, the transition has led to an expansion in working remotely and to a growing focus on the end-to-end value chain being analyzed and de-risked.”
Mr. Tarun Bhutani, Managing Director, AMANI, says, “A lot has changed over the past couple of months due to COVID-19. To control the COVID-19 outbreak, countries from across the globe have got into lockdown mode. This has completely transformed the way we have been used to working. While several industries and business sectors are feeling the heat, the Indian smartphone manufacturing sector seems to be heavily impacted and the whole mobile accessories market has come to a standstill. The whole mobile accessories market revolves around the primary smartphone market. If the demand for smartphones is higher, then the demand for accessories will surely go up. With workers locked down in their homes, the production has also come to a standstill. Samsung has the biggest manufacturing plant in Noida, where it manufactures devices for India as well as for exporting globally. Due to the lockdown, both online and offline smartphone sales have completely stopped.”
Mr. Lalit Arora, Co-Founder, Vingajoy, posits, “The COVID-19 outbreak is leading to major shifts as far as the market scenario is concerned. Customers have become conscientious and are shifting their expenditure model from luxury goods to the necessities, thereby ignoring other non-essential things like consumer tech and luxury goods. The only concern for them right now is to equip themselves with the lifesaving essentials – basic pharmacy, sanitizers, and PPE kits. Post lockdown, many Indians will tend to start domestic in-house manufacturing partly or fully, trying to reduce their dependency on China. The matter of concern is the adequate availability of medicines, sanitizers, and other life-saving drugs. Post lockdown, there will be a drastic shift in customer’s behavior for several months to come. Online channels will definitely become prominent platforms in the coming months.”
Mr. Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Smartphone Division, System Business Group, ASUS India, says, “The COVID-19’s impact may last till a definite cure is found and social distancing to prevent spread may become the norm for several months to come. The need for social distancing will lead to a greater practice of ‘Work From Home’ and ‘Study From Home’. IT and Mobility are, therefore, expected to play a larger role in the lives in the coming times. The industry is gearing up to support offline retail and offline service, implementing new norms to ensure a safe environment for both the customers and the staff. Required SOPs are being put in place with co-operative consensus among industry players. The faster we can open with the right safety norms in place, the better it will be for the economy as a whole. We deeply appreciate the recent relaxations announced by the central government for starting the sale of non-essential products in offline markets subject to required constraints. Given the widespread need for IT and mobile products to supporting economic activity during the lockdown, the industry bodies have requested the government to consider classifying IT, mobile products, and services as essential and allow them to be sold and supplied. The lockdown situation is expected to have an impact on the incomes of many of our consumers, and therefore, the overall demand in the economy may witness a hard hit. Together, the Industry and the government need to support measures that help revive demand and restart the economic engine with a significant multiplier effect.”
Charles Peng, President, HONOR India, briefs, “In the current scenario, smartphones have emerged as essential products for consumers as they add a great value in their lives and help them to stay connected with the outside world. This will create new demand from first-time smartphone users as well as those who want to upgrade their phones for new and advanced features, applications, and technology, to meet their needs and requirements. It will result in a rise in the demand for handsets post the lockdown.”
Gopal Jeyaraj, Head – SAARC Anker Innovations, says, “Post the Lockdown, we will see the channel getting very aggressive on the sales front. Since consumers have been on lockdown for quite some time, once the market opens up, they shall be buying, both the much-required essential and the non-essential items, in big quantities spurring a strong demand. On the other hand, the Online Market too shall see swift progress. Even in the lockdown period, there were requests for non-essentials, which shows the consumer eagerness for the markets to open. We are positive on this, and expecting things to move to normalcy soon.”
Arjun Bajaj- Director Videotex International Group, opines, “Currently the business is standstill both from manufacturing and retail perspectives. Post lockdown, with relaxed guidelines, the Green Zones should have some business movement. We suggest the government should at least allow intercity logistics and delivery for e-tailers as this would help us to come back to normalcy and there can be some improvements in the economy. Some government stimulus and relief is essential for the sectors which are worst-hit due to lockdown.”
Mr. Avneet Singh Marwah, Director, and CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd (a Kodak brand licensee), feels, “Talking about the decision of MHA to allow the sale of non-essentials, while it’s a relief for The businesses to resume operations in the green and orange zones in some capacity, 80% of the demand comes from cities which are in the red zones. While community lockdown is important to fight the situation, we are worried about its impact on business operations. As a company, we’ve taken precautionary methods already to ensure the safety of our employees and customers, but we want the govt to relax restrictions on operations because delaying can affect the livelihoods and the stocks have piled up in factories and warehouses.”
Mr. Paresh Vij, Founder & Director, U&i, shares, “The pandemic of Covid-19 has affected almost the entire globe, as much as India. This has stalled the economic reforms and some companies are suffering the worst. But we at U&i have been alert from the beginning and took protective measures. We as a responsible corporate house have always tried to serve the nation and started making HD Face Shield Masks and distribute them to frontline warriors at no cost. We always believe that sometimes challenges come to inspire and drive us forward.”
myTVS Accessories manufactures and distributes unique car accessories under the brand myTVS. Mukesh Dhingra, COO, myTVS Accessories, says, “Since people have to maintain social distancing due to COVID-19, they will try to avoid public transport and try to use their own vehicles as far as possible. Many will take out their old vehicles or purchase secondhand vehicles because avoiding public transport, even after restrictions are lifted, will become a necessity for their own safety. Very few will purchase new vehicles due to the recession in the economy and drop in their own incomes due to lockdown. This situation also gives a boost to the car accessories business.”
Vibhooti Prasad, Sr VP, AIMRA, asserts, “Definitely, the COVID-19 and the lockdown have thrown all the businesses into disarray. The retailers at the front-end of the market are the most suffered in the current scenario. With stocks lying unsold and no revenues, the retailers are at the receiving end.”
Mr. Jitender Bhatia, Director, JBTEK, elaborates, “COVID-19 is an international challenge and we have to face it and adapt our strategies accordingly; there is no other way out. Today, accessories like chargers, headphones, power banks, etc are essential items, no longer luxuries. Online meetings, webinars, remote online classroom learning, etc all need accessories. The situation is expected to grow more in that direction in the coming months.”
Mr. Kapil Wadhwa, Founder & MD, Champion Computers, comments, “COVID-19 has changed the way we do business. Earlier the slogan was ‘Roti, Kapada aur Makaan’ (food, clothes, and shelter) and now we have to add one more word ‘Swastya’ making it ‘Roti, Kapada, Makaan aur Swastya’ (food, clothes, shelter, and health) The demand for paramedical products such as sanitizers, IR thermometers, is going to increase considerably in the coming months. So partners should focus on promoting paramedical products, besides marketing mobile phones and accessories.”
Vibhooti Prasad, Director, O-LINE-O, REVEALS, “While talking from my company’s point of view or AIMRA’s point of view, currently, COVID-19 is an international issue, not just our local issue. Adapting to the situation and facing the challenge appropriately is the only option.”
Atul Modi & Anuj Modi, Co-founders, AXL, comment, “COVID-19 pandemic is the major global health crisis of our time and the greatest global humanitarian challenge the world has faced since World War II. The virus is spreading widely, and the number of cases is rising daily. COVID-19 is an international issue, not just our local issue. We have to face it with courage and caution.”
Mr. Achin Gupta, Country Head – India, ZOOOK, states, “Non-essential products will continue to be the last choice, people would prefer to buy things online, rather than thronging markets and malls. As consumer spend reduces, there will be a considerable reduction in the sales of high-end products. So any product in the non-essential category would be the last choice of the consumer.”
Mr. Nisarg Patel, Zero1, “The COVID-19 very adverse effect on our business. We manufacture after importing raw materials from countries like Japan, China, etc. Our product line includes USB cables, adaptors, power banks, etc. We have completely stopped our production since our factory falls in the red zone. Everything looks bleak and we do not know when the situation will improve.”
Mr. Aashish Kumbhat, MD, Inbase (Sunshine), explains, “We are preparing ourselves to reach the new and old clients, communicate more effectively and serve their needs and requirements. While personal meetings and personal product-demos will be a thing of the past, we will be coming up with alternative product launch strategies such as Facebook Product Launch, Zoom Product presentations, Explainer Videos, and much more. We are determined to give our clients and customers a much better experience and planning to reach more customers in the future. While for the next 3 months we don’t expect any big business happening, we are expecting things to get settled by Oct 2020 and have a Decent Festival sales by then.”
Mr. Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager—India & SAARC, Belkin India Pvt Ltd, says, “We believe that the economy will bounce back as businesses started to open up. The government’s initiative to help out corporations & other various organizations will definitely be a boon. It’s a no brainer that e-commerce will be the key channel for consumers brand, as traffic is expected to grow exponentially on those platforms. The demand in the market has come to a stop due to lockdown, but as the restrictions start easing, businesses will automatically start partly regaining their lost revenues.”
Mr. Rajneesh Wadhawan, National Head, Glorious Electronics (I) Pvt Ltd, opines, “The COVID-19 has certainly impacted the sales of mobile accessories as the factories, dealers, retailers, and transportation were closed amid the lockdown and the demand dropped to zero, but if you talk about the post-lockdown period when there will be more relaxations for the industries and people, I see that there will be a surge in the demand of mobile phones and the mobile phone accessories. The post-COVID 19 periods will be completely different according to me. As the country has been on lockdown for nearly 2 months now, there will be a lot of people who would be needing to replace their mobile phone accessories due to wear and tear. Apart from this, most of the industries will also continue to have their workforce work from home and would slowly return back to work with precautions. At last, my expectations are that the mobile phone accessories market will certainly see a growth in the coming months unless the COVID-19 situation gets worse.”
Mr. V Deekshith Vara Prasad, Founder & CEO, Airok Technologies, states, “The COVID 19 induced lockdown has led to drastic changes in procuring and stocking habits. People are compelled to buy only essentials, and given overarching safety and economic concerns, are rethinking what these essentials encompass. Similar to households, Mobile and accessories brands, retailers are incited to redesign their inventories and in some cases their business model to deal with the pandemic in short and long terms. As always, those who react to the crisis quickly and efficiently will be the winners in the long run. The popular luxury brands across the globe have turned their focus towards the manufacture of essential items to protect health professionals and those working to combat COVID-19. A slew of the world’s luxury brands announced they would make sanitizers, medical overalls to surgical masks, since business is all about market attention and market requirement, most of the big players with change marketing strategy. Instead of one so many retail outlets, they want to focus on home deliveries, making the entire delivery chain and product showcasing turn in a different direction. Shortly, govt is expected to come up with a new set of rules to operate day to day business.”
The challenges the brands and partners should prepare to face!
Most people feel COVID-19 is the biggest crisis after World War II. Here are their views about the challenges COVID-19 presents.
Ajay Arora of Matata India Pvt Ltd asserts, “Supply chain management will emerge as one of the biggest challenges post COVID-19 and it will need a larger part of Government initiative to help streamline the same. Also, RBI will need to work on measures to control the decline of INR vs USD as our industry is largely dependent on imports. Businesses are suffering due to complete lockdown and it will take time for them to stand on their feet and the government should help the businesses. An early import-boost package should help revive the economy. As India has a huge opportunity to become the next manufacturing hub, easy financing and credit options for the industry will help boost the businesses and provide employment.”
Yogesh Bhatia of Detel feels, “Maintaining quality will be a major concern for the companies that want to survive. Companies that will maintain the quality will get a huge boost in demand and reputation, especially those made in India.”
Tarun Bhutani of AMANI comments, “Most customers that do venture into the market aren’t going to buy new products. People will prioritize their essential things over non-essential goods, but the mobile phone industry may not be impacted as much as other industries such as an airline or the hospitality industry. Demand for mobile accessories will continue to rise.”
Gopal Jeyaraj of Anker Innovations speaks, “Currently, the whole Mobile Accessories market is at a standstill. The whole global economy has taken a hit due to the pandemic. From the consumers’ side, post-Covid19, the buying patterns of consumers will see a massive change. The biggest challenge will be for the sales in the retail markets as there will be restricted human interaction, keeping social distancing norms in mind. Relaxed eCommerce guidelines would be a savior to the Industry. Another looming issue is the supply chain disruption across the globe.”
Arjun Bajaj of Videotex International opines, “The most challenging role is to ramp up the production since most of the migrant workers have gone back to their respective hometowns. On the other side, the supplies will be the worst hit especially for the consumer durables as a large percentage of the components come from China. Also, there will be huge pressure to increase the prices of many products, once markets open. Furthermore, the demand for goods in the market would take a huge hit for several months to come. It’s all about maintaining a good balance between business continuity and fluid market conditions.”
Mr. Manoj Kumar Pansari, CEO & Founder, of Astrum briefs, “COVID-19 is one of the greatest challenges to the business world in India and worldwide. We are giving our best possible support to our partners to boost their morale during these challenging times.”
Mr. Dinesh Sharma of ASUS India comments, “For both IT and mobile categories, significant depreciation of the rupee has led to an increase in the input costs. This will lead to a proportionate increase in the prices of products. Moreover, smartphones had a double hit with the 50% increase in GST (from 12% to 18%), making the pricing of smartphones increase by large differential. While the exchange rate is market determinant, support from the government to reverse the GST on mobiles back to 12% will help restore better pricing for mobile phones. Mobiles are the largest selling consumer electronic products that directly impact the lives of the working population in India. Better prices of Mobile Phones will be very helpful to not only help consumers but also an industry that employs a significant percentage of the population.”
Mr. Achin Gupta, Country Head – India at ZOOOK, “The challenges include payment collection, as enterprises would have to look for more digital options, low demand and a significant drop in consumer spending. Besides, there is also an increased possibility of some companies importing low-quality components and assembling the same in the country to give a perception of Made in India to encash the current ‘vocal for local’ sentiment.”
Aashish Kumbhat of Inbase briefs, “The biggest challenges in the current situation are adapting to technology, reaching out to new clients and expanding the distribution networks as travel and personal meetings will not be practiced in the way they had been practiced earlier. The other challenge we have to deal with is the irregular operation of logistics and supply chain.”
Kartik Bakshi of Belkin India says, “On a personal level, I would like to see people regain their lost jobs as the growth of our economy is heavily dependent on the buying power of the consumers who are employed people. Many companies, such as those in the airline industry, have lost working capital due to lockdown and it could take them several months to recover. Another big challenge is piled up inventories, which the companies, as well as resellers alike, want to clear. Some of them might even sacrifice their profitability as they want to clear their stocks in hand–a risky move given that shortage of cash is already an issue. A volatile USD to the Rupee exchange rate will have an adverse effect on the pricing of imported goods leading to higher prices & inflation. Brick & Mortar stores will have to develop new strategies on how to manage in-coming customers, social distancing norms, and their on-the-floor-staff. The logistics in certain zones could continue to be a challenge as long as the new COVID-19 cases do not come down.”
Rajneesh Wadhawan of Glorious Electronics, says, “The main challenge that I see is the dependency of the business on the import from China for raw materials. Our Prime Minister, Modi, has called for Make in India and aatmanirbhar bharta; this will boost the drive of Indian manufacturing companies. The dependency on China cannot be eliminated instantly but would have to be reduced in steps.”
Deekshith Vara Prasad of Airok Technologies comments, “The real challenges are for the MSME sector since this sector is completely dependent on supply chain management and established brands entering into essentials market, it will be tough for small players to enter and get a market share. The main issue is cash-flow management – because of the market scenario, the payment terms will change, and that increases pressure on day-to-day operations. Challenges would be different from segment to segment; all businesses in one way or the other are interlinked, so it is really hard to anticipate how each business will be affected on a granular level but for sure new methods need to be developed in each department of each business.”
While Being a Crisis COVID-19 Also Presents its Opportunities
Every crisis comes with some hidden opportunities. A wise businessman has to minimize risks, learn how to face the challenges, and then make the best use of the available opportunities. Several players have put forward their views on the new opportunities the current COVID-19 crisis has presented.
Ajay Arora of Matata India says, “COVID-19 has helped and made people learn how to work from home within constraints. We expect a huge surge in demand for mobility and mobile accessory products post-COVID -19. With an increase in remote working or work from home, video conferencing / virtual meetings are the new norm. With this, there has been an enhanced demand for mobility products and accessories and the mobility industry is sure to see exponential growth. During the lockdown, the OTT entertainment industry has already seen double-digit growth in its subscription and consumption of content. Home entertainment will come of age which augers well with our audio product-line. Educational institutes have already resorted to online education and this new norm of remote learning will further boost the demand for earphones, headphones, portable speakers, and power banks. With online gaming seeing unexpectedly unprecedented growth, it’s a big opportunity for good quality headphones and audio products.”
Yogesh Bhatia of Detel opines, “Promotion of developed and made in India products will see huge growth in the coming times. So we should focus more on making in India.”
Tarun Bhutani, Managing Director at AMANI, shares, “We have the availability of a strong distribution network and our zeal to gain a competitive advantage is helping us to climb up the ladder. At present, Amani Mart has innumerable multi-brand stores and online retailers of mobile phones and accessories which together form a strong network that make it possible to reach the last mile. Our brand is local so that we have to upgrade it locally to vocal for our customers at reasonable prices. The current situation can prove to be beneficial for the Indian market. The situation can bring new hope for the MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises). Amani Mart will become a new destination for mobile phones and accessories. Big brands like Xiaomi and others are planning to bring manufacturing to India.”
Gopal Jeyaraj of Anker Innovations, “Business will grow if partners follow the strategy of diversification. It is important that partners come out of regular shopping methods to make attractive offers to attract customers. There will also be an increased focus on e-commerce and the digitalization of the supply chain. Industries and factories will be looking forward to having their base in India which will create more jobs and the manufacturing ecosystem will become the government’s main focus.”
Jitender Bhatia of JBTEK shares, “There is no need to worry. Once the lockdown is lifted, we will see an increasing demand for mobile accessories. Partners just need to restructure their strategies to the newly evolving conditions. On our website, we have all the necessary helpful information for our partners on how they should deal in the current scenario.”
Kapil Wadhwa from Champion Computers briefs, “When we saw the COVID-19 spreading like a wildfire across the nation, we felt it is our moral responsibility to device things like IR thermometers, etc that help to check this pandemic. That itself is an opportunity to serve society and support our business.”
Manoj Kumar Pansari of Astrum states, “At Astrum, we strive to bring out innovative products that suit the times and the people. Today, COVID-19 is spreading fast so it demands different products and solutions. So we took this as an opportunity to supply high quality, reliable paramedical products such as IR thermometer guns, etc at affordable prices.”
Atul Modi & Anuj Modi of AXL assert, “We are using this lockdown time as an opportunity to audit our own system, including evaluating our marketing and channel networks and strategies; taking the opinions of our employees and partners; inquiring with our partners about their stock levels and business-related issues; and so on.”
Achin Gupta from ZOOOK, “We will focus on Made in India products, personal care, and hygiene-related products. Every challenge comes to an opportunity and the same is the situation currently. Made in India is expected to get a boost due to a greater emphasis on domestic production. Additionally, companies and enterprises that are into personal care and hygiene-related products may also expect a surge in demand. The companies can explore and thrive on the new shift.”
Aashish Kumbhat, Managing Director, Inbase, asserts, “Due to increasing emphasis on personal hygiene in the context of COVID-19, there is a huge demand and opportunity for personal health and safety products in the market. We have already launched IR Thermometers, Face Masks, Face Shields, Sanitization Box, and the response has been great.”
Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager—India & SAARC, Belkin, India Pvt Ltd, comments, “Working & schooling from home will lead to a demand for smarter & better quality products. Since consumers will depend on their home infrastructure to deliver a seamless flow of work & classes, most of them will look to upgrade their current devices & accessories such as Routers, tablets, Power products, webcams, laptops & other such items. Innovative marketing strategies, bundles & promotions will be key to draw in the customer. Many brands will look to increase their investment in digital marketing strategies to drive both traffic & growth.”
Rajneesh Wadhawan of Glorious Electronics, says, “GLORIOUS, as a manufacturer, sees a great boost in the government’s support and emphasis on Make in India. There will be a surge in the demand for mobile accessories in the future, and the ‘fittest will survive and win the game.’ Glorious aims to make the best of this opportunity in the coming times.”
Deekshith Vara Prasad of Airok Technologies, explains, “We are at a pivotal intersection. This unexpected situation has brought a signal and a message for India, and importantly an opportunity. The new economic reforms, if implemented as proposed by govt, will make us see a new India altogether. Our greatest asset is our young generation capable, eager, and available—all they lack is an opportunity. I feel this is the time for India to build its own infrastructure, its own industries, and emerge as a world leader. As for the govt, this is the best occasion to create an opportunity and set up a platform for the people to work. And importantly, the decisions on the MSME sector should address the real issues related to supply chain management which the sector has been facing for decades. No doubt this crisis made us realize the importance of local manufacturing and 6-point strategy on MSME sector would help this sector to bloom and all our demands during any further crisis can be met locally and it’s not a one-day job, it’s a continuous process where people should build this country based on this opportunity by availing new reforms. Now it’s time to be vocal about our products and help local products reach globally. As our PM, Mr. Modi, said, this is an unprecedented crisis but India will neither get tired nor give up the fight against COVID-19. These new economic reforms are really a great opportunity to not to give up and to build our own resources and stand firm ahead of all nations.”
How different companies are following different strategies to prepare for the future
Ajay Arora of Matata India reveals, “We are planning to launch our high-end range of audio and accessories towards June-July by when supply chain constraints are expected to have settled down. Our product range is designed to meet the needs of SOHO and Home Entertainment categories and is specially focused on youth.”
Yogesh Bhatia of Detel comments, “We are focused on developing and launching new products that will be very disruptive.”
Mandeep Arora of UBON feels, “COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to serve our nation by recognizing the services of frontline warriors and saluting those who are sacrificing their lives fighting the pandemic. So, we started manufacturing the Face Shields on a large scale for the warriors fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also prepared for the after-effects of this lockdown and will restart the business at the right pace.”
Dinesh Sharma of ASUS India states, “As a coin has two sides, the current scenario has an underlying opportunity. We are working towards converting limitations into opportunities by empowering around 270 promoters across LFRs and retail stores. During the lockdown period, we have been conducting intensive online training and using online tests as incentives to motivate them and hone their skills. We got an opportunity to connect with our community through online engagement activities such as #ROGShowDown PC E-Sport Tournament and #ROGBattleOfGods weekly PUBG Mobile Tournament exclusively for ROG Phone customers. On the sales front, we have support from our global headquarters to ensure that we quickly bounce back and restore supply to the full extent as early as possible to meet the needs of our Indian consumers.”
Charles Peng of HONOR India elaborates, “At HONOR, we are gearing up and also have few launches lined up for the coming months to meet the future demand and needs of the consumers. We are integrating innovation and advanced features into our devices to provide power-packed performance at affordable prices. We are further strengthening and expanding our official app store, Huawei AppGallery, to onboard new and user-friendly applications across categories, such as eCommerce platforms for essential orders, digital learning classes for kids, music, health & fitness, OTT service, social networking, entertainment, games, mobile wallets, and news, to make consumers’ smartphone journey worth the upgrade. We share a strong relationship with our user base and will continue to support them in the best feasible way, ensuring their safety and at the same time, cooperating completely with the government’s advisories.”
Tarun Bhutani, Managing Director at AMANI, briefs, “The mobile accessories market has seen a severe impact due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but this has also given a new hope for Amani Mart to become the next big manufacturing hub. With a highly-skilled, quality workforce, and improved supply chain, robust infrastructure, we can become a leading mobile manufacturing hub. We enable the workforce to manage and operate automated production processes. Hopefully, once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Amani Mart will strive to become the next big thing in the mobile accessories market.”
Gopal Jeyaraj of Anker Innovations reveals, “We are keeping everything ready including our stocks. Our focus shall be to support our channel partners. As a company, we are devising new strategies to activate and connect with the audience as per the ‘new normal.’
Arjun Bajaj of Videotex International states, “Though the COVID-19 has disastrous effects on the industry, it also comes with a hidden opportunity to transform India into a manufacturing hub. The trade-related tensions between the world’s two biggest economies—the US and China—are giving jitters to investors worldwide. The Chinese growth engine has started slowing and in the coming years, the whole world will look towards India as an alternate manufacturing hub opening up doors for new businesses and technologies. India should capitalize on this opportunity and gear up its manufacturing eco-system. We are building strategies to resume operations. We are also planning to enhance the digitization of our systems.”
Paresh Vij of U&i comments, “We at U&i, from the day one of our establishment, have been working and designing our company policies after taking feedback on the market needs. Our relentless efforts and the support from the partners have been inspiring us to bring something new to the consumers. Due to our proactive market strategies, our graph of success kept on moving upwards!! We are very glad to add that our customers and partners have been regularly calling and chatting with us asking when we are going to reopen our business routines. We have already resumed our business operations following the govt guidelines. All our employees wear proper masks, use sanitizers frequently, and maintain proper social distancing. We also believe that targets are made to be broken so we continually set new goals of success for ourselves. The current scenario is not insurmountable if we prepare proactively. Last but not the least, we also look after our employees’ growth and welfare with equal care and attention.”
Mukesh Dhingra of myTVS Accessories expresses, “We are launching a new hand-sanitizer and a 3-liter vehicle sanitizer-gun for use in cars by June 2020. The new trend in the market will be, the sale of secondhand vehicles will rise significantly until the end of 2020. Now even vehicle-servicing people will insist that, if you want to leave your vehicle for servicing, you sanitize the vehicle before leaving it at the service station. Even every vehicle owner would like to sanitize his vehicle when he goes out and comes back home. We are expecting good business for our sanitizer. On the other hand, we also have laptop chargers, vacuum cleaners, tire inflators, and other vehicle accessories. Another trend foreseen is home services will increase where a customer calls on the phone and asks us to repair things or fit something to their vehicle at their homes. We are focusing on how to think, adapt and grow in the new set of conditions. We have started working with limited staff and we will scale up in the coming months as restrictions ease. We are talking to our partners via Google Meet, Zoom, etc to explain to them about our old and new products and the expected new trends in the market. Once lockdown is lifted or relaxed, we will rev up our business with new strategies from time to time.”
Vibhooti Prasad of AIMRA explains, “At AIMRA, via webinars we are continually giving the motivational training to partners, updating and guiding the retailers online on the latest govt policies and how they should deal with customers in the current scenario. We are also giving suggestions to retailers depending on the size and location of their business. On the other hand, we are coordinating with brands about how they should guide the retailers to do business during and after the lockdown. On our request, vivo has started giving training to the retailers—statewide and citywide—on issues like SOP for door-delivery, digital marketing, etc. For instance, when a customer contacts vivo to purchase a phone, the vivo will direct that request to the nearest retailer depending on that customer’s PIN code and that retailer will take care of the delivery. Now we are coordinating with Oppo, Xiaomi, and Samsung advising them to try this model. We continuously update member-partners on the changing conditions in the market and the government guidelines.”
Jitender Bhatia of JBTEK elaborates, “We are conducting online webinars for our partners to motivate them, to shore up their confidence and to teach new things. In the coming times, Make in India will get a big boost. My message to partners is because India is a market-based on relationships, they should maintain strong relations and build trust among the customers. They should follow the safety guidelines while dealing with COVID-19, keep themselves and others safe, work with energy, and confidence to take things forward. I hope things will settle soon and everyone will sail through the crisis towards success.”
Kapil Wadhwa of Champion Computers comments, “As a part of our mission, we developed three innovative devices that help to monitor the temperature and minimize the spread of the disease. The design and development of these three devices reflect the core philosophy of Champion which always aims at offering something extraordinary to the clients. We already launched temperature monitoring IR hand-guns which are being used by many in the market. But these three new devices are a level above the market devices. Champion Digital Handsfree Wall Mount IR Forehead Thermometer (Office Use): This is mounted on the wall as a standalone device and needs no attendant to operate. Champion Digital Face Recognition + Intelligent Thermometer + Access Control System (can be placed at reception): This device, which is a step ahead of the above device, is also operated just as the above without the operator presence, which includes face recognition and marks attendance when connected to the attendance system. Champion Digital IR Thermometer with Face Detection and High Speed (at Entrance / Reception): This is an ideal product to be installed at the entrance of the premises with a rapid movement of people–it can fast-check the temperature of people moving quickly across and give a beep someone carries something like hot water or tea. We are giving our best possible support to our partners so that they can survive and thrive under the present conditions. So there is no need to worry and once the lockdown is lifted, we foresee a lot of demand for business. Partners just need to restructure their strategies to the newly evolving conditions.”
Vibhooti Prasad of O-LINE-O reveals, “We have been constantly guiding our partners through our website on how to reach the products to the end-customers. We are also offering sanitizers, temperatures guns, etc to fight COVID-19 at the front-end. Today, the mobile phone has become an essential device as most people do not have PCs and laptops, so mobile accessories will continue to have good business in the coming months and years. We are giving training to our partners via webinars, etc on how to deal during these critical times. We are informing our end-customers that they can get the product delivered at their doorstep once they order online. Also, if a customer has any issue related to hardware or software related to Oraimo products, they can first call our call-center and get online instructions on how to solve their issues. If that does not work, then we will send our technician to the customer to solve the problem. We are already using these methods successfully in Mumbai and Ahmedabad regions, which we will extend to other areas.”
Manoj Kumar Pansari of Astrum explains, “Recently, we launched 4 innovative products. The first one is Portable UV Light Sterilizer–this can kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces like keyboards, mice, mousepads, steering wheels which we often touch with our hands. You just have fit it on your phone’s USB and direct the invisible UV light on the surface you want to sterilize for a few seconds. The second one is the thermal scanner that measures the temperature of the COVID-19 suspected patients. The third one is the Air Purifier, which purifies the air of dust, bacteria, and viruses in the entire room. The fourth one has censored Hand Sanitizer–to use this, you need not press the button; just keep your hands below the censored sanitizer and it will dispense a few drops to fall on your hands; apply it on your hands and wash them in the washbasin. Right now we have launched these products for corporates, but we are launching for homes and consumers too soon. All these products come with a 1-year warranty and they have a useful life of 2 to 5 years, depending upon how heavily you use and how well you maintain them. We have already launched these products abroad and they are now available in India too. Our partners are showing great interest in these products. Right now, we are manufacturing these products in China, and soon we will start manufacturing them in our Indian plant near Tirupati. Once we start Making In India, we can give the cost-benefit to the Indian users. Making in India also helps us to supply products to the partners with short notice–within 1-3 days. Our message to all our partners and also to our citizens is they should sanitize things they touch daily, maintain social distancing, and obey the government guidelines to check the spread of COVID-19.”
Atul Modi & Anuj Modi Co-founder of AXL comment, “We are conducting online training programs for our salespeople. We are optimistic that the situation will improve soon and we will bounce back to its original pace. I think there is an opportunity in every challenge. The current crisis is an opportunity to learn new things, prepare better for the future, adapt to the situation and face the challenge appropriately. We have to encourage customers to add services to their product offerings to make their businesses sustainable and profitable even in uncertain times as at present. This unexpected COVID-19 pandemic has put businesses in difficult conditions, but we have to face it with confidence and courage. The government’s support can only be limited. Even after the lockdown is lifted it will take several months for the businesses as well as the economy to recover. We just have to take it an opportunity to learn new ways of doing business. Our message to all our partners is they should maintain social distancing and obey the government guidelines to check the spread of COVID-19. Next, we also launched paramedical products, such as Mask, Sanitizer, PPE Kit, IR Thermometer, etc under the brand name AXL-Med, to protect the public from COVID-19.”
“Our readiness is in sync with the expected changes with regard to market and consumer behavior. Being a pioneer in innovative consumer technology products, we have already expanded our product base and working on equipment that is the need of the hour. For instance, we have come up with a state-of-the-art contact-less infrared thermometer that assures better accuracy and added options as against the counterparts available in the market,” adds Achin Gupta of ZOOOK.
“We have a well-equipped manufacturing facility where we can control the quality as requirements, but in the current circumstances, we want to just wait until things become normal before making any further move. Any attempt to predict or do business under the current circumstances is unfeasible and risky, so we will wait and watch for some time until the dust settles down, before making our next move,” Nisarg Patel, Zero1.
Aashish Kumbhat, Managing Director, Inbase, shares, “We are well-prepared for the post-lockdown situation. We’ll soon announce our new plans, which include manufacturing audio products under our Hon’ble PM, Shri NarenderJi Modi’s Make In India initiative. We will start providing OEM and ODM services, apart from manufacturing our own in-house requirements.”
Kartik Bakshi of Belkin concludes, “Right now pragmatic & proactive solutions are the need of the hour. We have been already working on e-commerce platforms for some time and we are future-ready. Our stock situations are healthy and we have a few new launches in the offing to boost our revenue.”
Rajneesh Wadhawan of Glorious Electronics, reveals, “We have a good quantity of GLORIOUS orders and have enough finished and semi-finished stocks for the near future and as per government norms now our factory is operational and we are back to our normal business.”
Deekshith Vara Prasad of Airok Technologies concludes, “When the Corona crisis began, there was not a single PPE kit in India. The N95 masks were produced normally in India. Today, the situation is that India is producing 2 lakh PPE kits and 2 lakh N95 masks every day though we are also doing our part in producing N95 masks and supplying to various clients. We are not still satisfied because we are not seeing this as a supply and demand issue; it’s a life and death issue that we need to fight beyond our capabilities. As our responsibility towards our nation and our people, we are investing the best of our available resources to increase production. Since the demand has grown exponentially, we are increasing our span of running two shifts to three and setting up new machinery to meet the demand to the best we can.”
To Sum Up
Govt is trying its best to control the COVID-19. On the optimistic side, the epidemic will come under control by the end of July 2020 and on the pessimistic side, the number of cases could cross 1,000,000 by the end of July 2020, which could prompt the government to start new restrictions. Most IT, mobile phone and mobile accessories companies are using the interval provided by COVID-19 lockdown are using to audit and to redefine the marketing systems and strategies. Several companies are regularly conducting webinars to motivate and update their channel partners. Several IT and mobile companies have launched paramedical products like IR thermometers, sanitizers, masks, etc to supplement and compensate their revenues. Govt has announced Rs 20 lakh crore (USD 260 Billion) to dole out SMEs and MSMEs. Though all are not satisfied with the dole out plan, most feel it will be some definite relief to the industry. COVID-19 is also an opportunity for brands and partners to design new proactive strategies that will help them do business better in the future. Many times great inventions are made during crises. In the coming times, we can see the markets working on different concepts and modes of operation—the changes that were never expected before.