This Is How Consumer Tech Industry Will Evolve In Post-Corona World: An Observation By Industry Veteran

This is an opinion by Mr.Mandeep Arora, Managing Director, UBON—India’s leading consumer electronics brand

Given that the entire world is holding its breath and is basically at a standstill; I have put on a happy face, because I am still optimistic and want to rejoice at the news of new products, services and innovative technologies from our industry leaders and feel inspired by them.

Realistically speaking, yes there will be work losses as the economy as a whole is under uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic situation. Holding for now while isolating our- selves in the confinement of our homes, we are trying to act remotely and for those of us who can still work, to concentrate on our jobs in the face of intense adversity.

It is uncertain for how long this situation will prevail — it could be weeks or it could be several months.

The current situation might result in a long-term global recession. Sitting at home all day long while reading daily news on loop as well as the technology trades, has given me a lot of time to contemplate the fate of our industry and our way of life with my gray matter.

While it’s only a very early stage of the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve had time to reflect about what the possible long-term effects of this seismic event could have on our business and culture as a whole as well.

As all can sense its effect and consequences, changing the way things work and function in the world, the pandemic will significantly affect how and what we buy, dramatically speeding up the fundamental shifts that form our market and also changing the significance of those trends. It is a wake-up call for resilience and the desire to be ever more important to consumers and customers. 

Many parts of the market have different imperatives in the short-term, with Beauty being hit hard on demand while Food and Homecare (essential goods) are seeing massive increase in demand. Long- term structural improvements will force industry-wide portfolio revaluation.

Post COVID19: Changes

1.Changing customer’s preferences: Whilst consumers respond differently to the emergency, structural changes in consumption are emerging. Consumers are searching for sustainable value in safer, more trustworthy, more environmentally conscious goods and experiences that are inclusive of the communities in which they live and work.

2.Sensibilization of wellbeing:  The level of emphasis on mental and physical health — of individuals, their families and friends, animals, cultures, and the wider environment.

3.Shift in Channel: The current crisis is pushing customers to explore the full spectrum of engagement and service choices which will have lasting effects. The transition to eCommerce is greatly accelerating — as is the “switch to local” (i.e. purchased from local-shops).

4.Link Between the workers and the ecosystem: Companies would gradually eliminate barriers within and across institutions and further blur the boundaries between home and workplace.

5.Transformation in supply chain: Current events have brought to light the strategic value of demand sensing and scalable output being close to the customer. It will represent a key potential competitive differentiator in the consumer goods market.

6.Mitigating environmental disasters: The interconnectedness of our industry and the need to create rapid global coordination mechanisms across the industry and beyond. This will reduce the negative consequences of shocks which are likely to be more frequent in the future. 

Massive Shift To eCommerce?

The current crisis is driving consumers to explore the full range of engagement and consumption options— with lasting impact.

The shift to e-commerce is accelerating substantially—as is the “move to local”. It is also recognised that e-commerce will provide many advantages to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

With access to broader markets, overcoming regional barriers will offer a playing field to compete with larger players, etc. Consumers often benefit from a broader range of goods / services, fair pricing, etc.

To MSMEs and customers alike, one of the most noticeable advantages of e-commerce during the pandemic has been balancing the demand and availability of vital items such as medications, hand sanitizers, and face masks.

Additionally, key gaps have also emerged in the backend supply chains, i.e. between producers, wholesalers and distributors, thereby also jamming the supply chain. Efficient supply chains are a cornerstone of a stable economy and a well-functioning e-commerce sector.

Regulatory confusion and knee jerk responses do more harm than good, even in emergency situations, as is clear from the Government’s approach to handling supply in the light of the pandemic. 

Post Corona World: Focus On MSME Section Vital

Post- lockdown impact on the e-commerce sites of small online sellers might have an adverse effect.

Once the pandemic is over, the Government must respond to these small players, whose businesses have come to a grinding halt amid the shutdown.

Many vendors are engaged in supplying non-essential goods and services (such as electronics, clothing, taxi services, etc. – which make up for bulk online sales) that do not actually have the resources to support their fixed business expenses such as rentals, wages, EMIs, etc. unlike heavy-pocketed bigger players.

One way to support small e-commerce players quickly is to allow non-essential products to be delivered while maintaining hygiene and social distance. Reforming foreign investment rules, strengthening regulatory coherence and ensuring the sector’s proportional control can also go a long way in promoting the growth of smaller players in e-commerce.

Stakeholders need to work together to identify new ways to tackle such problems, as allowing e-commerce may or may not help eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion

Right now, as consumers are rapidly using digital methods to plan for a potential emergency, retailers ensure seamless, frictionless and quick experiences on their e-commerce websites and mobile apps.

In the current scenario, the Government is aiding many e-commerce platforms to serve people better and, on the same front the Government might take better initiatives with regard to e-commerce platforms as we all can see the existing surge in online demand and change in consumer behavior.

For example- In the current scenario, Amazon has come up with Amazon Pantry to serve better in this pandemic. Many e-commerce platforms are hiring new employees to facilitate the supply of essentials in the existing situation.

Now, if we talk about the post COVID-19 world, we might see a better initiative towards consumer tech essentials (FMCE) such as mobile phones repairing and speakers, phones, chargers, etc. And eventually, it’s going to open new doors for consumers tech essentials because consumption of technology is rapidly growing.

Also, it’s going to challenge billions of dollar valuations and traditional forms of marketing, outreach, and to some degree, it’s going to challenge the logistics sector the most

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