One of the biggest objectives of any business today would be to build trust with customers through safe and hygienic products.
Avneet Singh Marwah
The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the Indian economy was severe. The manufacturing sector, which contributes 20% of our GDP, was at a complete standstill. MSMEs were already witnessing slow business growth due to the economic slowdown in 2019, which was further aggravated in the lockdown. The TV manufacturing industry saw a loss of 1.5 million units as it relied on imports of raw materials and had a value addition of only 10-15%.
With the lockdown, the impact on the TV manufacturing industry was intense. Production was halted and labor shortage was at a rise. In an unorganized situation such as the lockdown, uncertainties were huge which forced businesses to relook at their continuity plans. However, while challenges were aplenty, the lockdown gave invaluable lessons to the manufacturing industry.
Technology as the only reliable partner
One of the biggest objectives of any business today would be to build trust with customers through safe and hygienic products. Here, manufacturing plants must take a lot of necessary precautions for contactless production. At the same time, from a business continuity perspective, businesses need to optimize their investment. For both, technology is the only reliable partner, especially Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and robotics to improve accuracy and efficiency.
The economy has witnessed a huge gap in ‘connectivity within the supply chain network’. The entire Indian TV manufacturing ecosystem was dependent on imports of raw material and with sealed borders even during Unlock 1.0, the industry has realized the need for self-reliance. TV manufacturing plants need to be upgraded so that the value addition done to raw materials within India increases to 50-60%. We must invest in technology to bring seamless functioning in the supply chain and logistics.
Therefore, huge investment in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, [while] still meeting customers’ expectations, as the firms rely on human intervention to keep up with the market demand. Simultaneously, investment in training laborers on the new machines and technologies will be important and slowly factories need to invest in in-house facilities for laborers.
Boost to the e-commerce
Similarly, before the lockdown, the e-commerce industry used to contribute an estimate of two per cent of the total retail market of the country. With the lockdown, the e-commerce industry boomed as the safest way to trade. Hence, one can expect that in the next five years, e-commerce will contribute to more than 20 per cent of the total retail market in India. With this pandemic, we have realized the importance of doorstep delivery, and the e-commerce industry has emerged a winner with its phenomenal service-level agreement.
For tier 1 and 2 cities, the delivery time has reduced to under 12 hours which is a great metric of customer satisfaction. In the next three years, the e-commerce industry will witness an investment of more than two billion USD in the supply chain, especially in warehouses for quick deliveries. This will be a game-changing delivery pattern.
The lockdown also changed consumer patterns and sped up technology adoption. A lot of first-time users joined the bandwagon, and the only way to tap into them is through reducing the digital divide and loading consumer products such as TVs with interesting experiences
Rise of the Make in India sentiment
The most interesting learning of the pandemic is the rise of the Make in India sentiment. One now expects traditional businesses to be incentivized to upgrade, as India is improving rapidly with technology. Along with improved internet connectivity and growth of e-commerce, more home-grown businesses will continue to rise.
Covid-19 pandemic shook the entire foundation of global businesses, but it also expedited the inevitable. Whatever businesses were planning to achieve in the next 10 years, we may achieve in the next three years!
Avneet Singh Marwah is Director and CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt. Ltd, A Kodak brand licensee. Views expressed are the author’s personal.