The Covid continues to take its toll for the 2nd year in a row on the imaging industry along with other industries. The 1st Covid wave that started in March 2020 was a big blow to the businesses in the imaging industry as much as it was for many other industries with lockdowns reducing the revenues and threatening their survival. To cope with this shock, several big players even in the imaging industry started providing para-medical products such as masks, sanitizers, IR thermometers, and so on. But the smaller players had to silently suffer the consequences with few options left. The industry appeared to be recovering by Q4 of 2020, then the 2nd Covid wave came down as a bigger blow to an already reeling industry. Unfortunately, more people died during the 2nd wave in 2 months than those who died during the 1st wave in 1 year. The imaging industry also lost several partners and their close relatives to Covid. Providers and partners followed different strategies during Covid-19 lockdowns to make the best of the available free time. Some kept engaging closely with their partners, taking their feedback, giving them more support information about products and services, and shoring up their confidence; others added some paramedical products to their portfolio; and so on. Most partners hope by August 2021, driven by nationwide vaccination programs, the Covid situation will come under control and the businesses will limp back to get back to normality. We took the opinions of some of the leading imaging industry players on how they are coping with the 2nd Covid wave.
Advice from WHO to all: If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Maintain at least a 1-meter distance between yourself and others to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak. Maintain an even greater distance between yourself and others when indoors. Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people. The appropriate use, storage, and cleaning or disposal are essential to make masks as effective as possible. Get vaccinated at the earliest possible. Once vaccinated fully, the chance of getting infected is very low, and the chance of dying due to Covid almost nil.
Imaging industry’s business strategies during the 2nd wave of Covid-19!
Almost all the providers and partners suffered a downtrend in their businesses. The best thing to do under the circumstances is to make use of the available time during the lockdown. Reviewing the channel policies based on the feedback received from the partners and customers, increasing communication with partners, and more focus on Work From Home & Manage From Home are some of the new practices brands attempting during the pandemic.
Mr. Sharad Midda, Sumanglam (Odyssey), “Business has come to almost a standstill for the past 2 months and we hope some revival in business by Aug 2021. Lockdowns are still in place in several states. Let us wait and see how things will unfold.”
Mr. Rohit Shah, President of JET TEC Info-Consumables India Pvt Ltd, “We believe that this is a very critical time for our country and the economy as a whole. Last year’s experience has taught us that we all must keep patience. In this difficult time, as humans, all need to extend our hand to support others who are in need. We can do well only when people around us do well. We all must utilize the spare time to introspect and to look within ourselves to correct and improve ourselves. We see this crisis as an opportunity to redraw our business model and give it a new direction. As a company, we feel that things will change soon for the better.”
Mr. Shashank Ruiwale, President, Indigo Prints Smart Pvt Ltd ( formujet), “For the last 2 months, our business and activities have been down, though our factory and warehouse working as usual. It is unlikely that the business scenario will get to normal levels anytime soon; maybe by early 2022 we can see recovery.”
Ms. Tanya Goel, VP, Aryan Trade World Pvt Ltd (ATWPL) (Aryan), “Pandemic has negatively affected almost every industry. To minimize the impact of the pandemic, we keep in continuous contact with our partners via phone, giving them encouragement and trying our best to keep the business operations running without disruption.”
Mr. Sandeep Sanghvi, Itone India Pvt Ltd (Itone), “Business has been down for the last 2 months due to Covid 2nd wave. However, our office and warehouse are working as usual. All our employees are maintaining the Covid Safety measures. So far we have not found a Covid infection among our employees. As soon as the Covid comes under control, say after 2 months time, we are expecting a spike in demand and revenues, which will help us even out the dips in revenues.”
Mr. Rishikesh Awasthi, BDM, JIT Enterprises, “Due to the 2nd wave of Covid, business is currently down, but we hope things will become normal in about 3 months and the industry will get back to normal.”
Mr. Gaurav Khetterpal, MD, Greenlam Office Solutions Pvt Ltd (Growlam), “The Covid 2nd wave has proved to be more fatal than the 1st wave. All the businesses have been severely affected and it will take time for the situation to become normal. In these tough times, we and our employees have been closely following the Work from the Home strategy so that the safety of our employees and their families is not compromised. All the follow-ups and new business leads are being done by phone or email. We are also working on how to digitalize our future business operations as it has several advantages over the traditional methods we have been following so far. We want to focus more on digital marketing and e-commerce wherever possible, while also supporting our offline channel. Once Covid comes under control we will add more products to our portfolio, later this year.”
Mr. Prashant Dongare, National Head (Desktop Ink Segment), Splashjet Inkjet Ink Pvt Ltd (Splashjet), “The 2nd wave has really caught all of us unawares. Fortunately for us, our business is spread across the country and across a wide variety of customer segments such as Desktop Inks, Large Format Printer Inks, Textile Inks, and other inks. This has helped us to manage business better and cushion the Covid shock to a great extent. For desktop inks, we are supporting our dealers with timely order fulfillment.”
Mr. Deepesh Patel, Proprietor, Jet Technologies (JetToner), “After a slump during April-September 2020 due to Covid-19 1st wave, our business recovered by Oct 2020 and did well until March 2021, but due to the 2nd wave, again there is a downturn since April 2021. We are just waiting and watching how things will shape up in the coming months before taking any new decisions.”
Mr. Biswajit Dubey, Director, Riseonic Products Pvt Ltd (Riseonic), “We are a growing company just started in 2019. The 1st Covid wave started in March 2020, posed a big challenge and then the 2nd wave in March 2021 posed a bigger challenge, however, our figures remained overall positive and we managed to run our business both years without a loss. We are optimistic about the future.”
Mr. Ganesh V. Whaval, Proprietor, V.V. Printland, “In spite of Covid-19 and lockdowns, we registered 20% growth rate in FY2020-21, but otherwise our annual growth rate has been 25-30% and we are sure that we will do better in future. Once the pandemic settles down, we will improve and expand our manufacturing facilities further and widen our market reach.”
Channels strategies and support to partners during pandemic conditions!
Mr. Rohit Shah of JET TEC, “Right now it’s important to think beyond business. It is time to stand with the channel and support them in every possible way. We want to ensure that all our partners, their families, and team members get through this difficult time safely.”
Mr. Sandeep Sanghvi of Itone, “To help our partners overcome the drop in business during the pandemic we are giving partners extended credit facility and also ensuring quick deliveries. We are also arranging free vaccination for all our employees and their family members. We advise all our partners and employees to follow the safety guidelines and stay healthy and safe.”
Mr. Rishikesh Awasthi of JIT Enterprises, “Once Covid comes under control, we want to appoint more channel partners and further expand nationwide.”
Mr. Gaurav Khetterpal of Growlam, “We are dispatching products to partners after taking full safety measures. Since the imposition of lockdown, our entire team has been working from home and is in touch with all our channel partners. We understand that this is the time partners need our support, both professionally and emotionally. All of us need to be patient until the situation gets normal.”
Mr. Prashant Dongare of Splashjet, “We are supporting our dealers with relaxed business terms during this time of crisis so that they can pull on. Our dealer and customer relations are based on years of trust and respect. We are proud to say that together we have beaten the Covid challenge in 2020 and we will overcome the challenges of this year too as well.”
Mr. Deepesh Patel of Jet Technologies, “We have no new business or channel plans until Covid-19 settles down; we will just focus on what we have been doing. We will plan something new only in early 2022.”
Mr. Romik Shah of Swastik Computer Products (AMI), “When the 2nd wave started in April 2021, our business was OK but from May the business has been down. However, we have been able to recover our expenses, there was no loss. This is because of our trustworthy channel partner community and the meticulous way we managed our finances.”
Message to the partners from the industry leaders
Message from the brands to the partners, employees and customers is the same. Partners and employees should take care of their health by following the safety guidelines and keep out of the reach of Covid. The daily number of Covid cases has started coming down; that means the peak is over and now it is only a matter of a few months before the situation gets normal. All should be patient and confident.
Mr. Rohit Shah of JET TEC, “Health is Wealth! So let us all get vaccinated first. Till then ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe.’”
Mr. Shashank Ruiwale of Indigo Prints (formujet), “We are keeping in touch with our partners via phone and enquiring about their and their family’s safety. We are advising our partners and clients to maintain safety guidelines and to keep healthy and safe.”
Ms. Tanya Goel of Aryan, “My message to partners and every fellow Indian is we all should follow the Covid-19 safety guidelines such as maintaining social distance, wearing masks, traveling only when essential, getting vaccinated as soon as possible, etc so that we can defeat this pandemic soon. We have asked most of our employees to work from home and also reduced the working hours for those employees whose work, like packaging and dispatching, cannot be performed from homes.”
Mr. Rishikesh Awasthi of JIT Enterprises, “As far as safety during the pandemic is concerned, we are encouraging our employees to work from home as far as possible and to take all the precautionary measures.”
Mr. Gaurav Khetterpal of Growlam, “I would like to give just one message to everyone – the first and foremost thing is HEALTH. We can do business only if we live and remain healthy. So, let us remain positive, take full precautions, and follow the social distancing norms and safety guidelines to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy.”
Mr. Prashant Dongare of Splashjet, “The key message for all is to take all due precautions advised regularly. If we want to beat Covid, we need to maintain the highest level of public hygiene. If we all rigorously follow the protocols, all of us will be safe. As far as business is considered, we all will bounce back better and stronger soon.”
Mr. Deepesh Patel of Jet Technologies, “Our message to partners and also to other distributors is they should stay confident during these tough times. Next, they should follow all the safety guidelines, and get vaccinated as early as possible.”
In a Nutshell
The Covid 2nd wave has been much harsher than the 1st wave. The 2nd wave took more lives in 2 months than the 1st wave took in 12 months. Most businesses suffered a downturn in revenues. It may take over 3-4 months for the business conditions in the country to become normal. The message for all is simple, stay positive, keep safe and remain healthy. Health is wealth. If you do not live and be healthy you cannot do business. So give first priority to your health and money and business come only next. The partners should also make the best use of the available free time to learn new things, connect with partners, develop new plans to do business better, and then hope the best. Be patient for a few months and the crisis will pass.