Mr Rishikesh Awasthi, Manager Business Development, JIT Enterprises
Driven by the pandemic, the changes we were expecting to happen in the future have happened in advance. During the pandemic, India has swiftly moved into the digital age, and now most transactions are done online. The Government of India with GST and other initiatives is trying to move unorganized Indian businesses towards an organized format. Now, being in a traditional and unorganized business mode can make it difficult to run. The major drawback of the toner industry in India is that it is still unorganized. Being organized is the only way forward if we want to sustain and even the govt is supporting the same. GOI has recently included retailers and wholesalers in MSMEs, which opens a whole lot of possibilities for expansion and benefits. This is a big support and relief for retailers and wholesalers.
Like every segment, the aftermarket imaging industry too suffered during the lockdowns, but the effect is less severe during the second lockdown as compared to the way it was during the first lockdown as we at JIT were better prepared for the second one. During the second lockdown (in 2021), even though our sales figures were hit, we were well-prepared and utilized the slack period to develop new products and to refine our existing product range. Recently, JIT came up with 3 new products positive toners to be used in 8500 copiers and also developed some new toners for Konica Minolta and RICOH copier machines. Next, we could also successfully reach some international markets.
The major problem faced by the toner industry during and after the lockdown was not with the supply of materials, as the Indian toner manufacturers have sufficient material inventory available to meet the demand, but the real problem was with a shortage of money as a result of delays in payment returns. It all happened mainly due to long credit terms demanded by the partners in the market. Even before talking about sales, people ask for “Side Kitna hai” (what is your credit policy) and most of them expect unrealistic 2-3 months credit. There were even a few cases where partners could not recover money as their buyers died due to Covid and no way they could recover that money. However, in the present, poorly organized state of our industry such problems could arise due to any other reason, not only due to Covid. These unrealistic and unsecured methods of providing credits need to be stopped all at once.
We all want India to be ‘atmanirbhar’ and a superpower, but this can be achieved only thru a strong and secure manufacturing sector. In simple terms, ‘The More the Manufacturing Sector Flourishes, The Less Will Be the Product Cost.’ Another shortcoming with our Indian buyers is they are ready to pay in advance to the foreign suppliers but demand long-term credit from the Indian manufacturers. This practice and attitude need to change for the survival and growth of the toner industry and its partners in the long run.