E-comm will play a much larger role in industry revenues in 2021: Abhijit Sanyal

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

For Abhijit Sanyal, Chief Strategy Officer, Youva, Navneet, consumer behaviour, and consequently, Organisational Operations, have undergone a sea change due to the pandemic effects. He also sees a greater role for e-commerce in the year ahead.

Outlook for 2021

Consumer behaviour, and consequently, Organisational Operations – especially in the areas of Sales & Marketing, Production and Supply Chain – are already undergoing a sea change, thanks to the unprecedented pandemic and its effects.

Digital penetration has been growing exponentially, as more and more households find it imperative to develop their tech savviness, for a plethora of needs – children’s education/ classes, WFH – and thus, frequent virtual meetings, and online purchases.

In-home entertainment consumption is swinging substantially away from traditional media (TV…) to OTT platforms, and devices.

Schools/ colleges remaining closed for virtually a year has had a significant impact on the Stationery industry. The peak back-to-school (BTS) Season was skipped last year due to lockdowns. In-home usage of stationery products, obviously, is far lower than normal.

As educational institutions are opening up, albeit gradually, there will be a huge backlog of exams, etc., to be cleared. Effectively, in 2021, there should be 1.5 times the normal BTS annual peak. Unlike in normal years, where North/ East started the new sessions in the January-March quarter, followed by West/South in the April-June quarter – 2021 is likely to see the whole country having its BTS bunched up together. This has ramifications for manufacturing, inventory management, supply chain, trade stock build-up, and consumer off-takes. Exactly how the scenario is likely to pan out is yet to be seen. All stationery players have to face the challenges of Sales projections, Raw Materials build-up, Production & Inventory planning, and Logistics. At Navneet, for the brand Youva, we are working on various alternate scenarios.

E-commerce is going to play a much larger role in industry revenues in 2021, compared to previous years. Consumers have developed the habit of online buying, and are less inclined to visit physical markets, unless absolutely necessary. Ensuring product availability on online market places is another key challenge for this year.

Great expectations

  • Less than 100% student attendance for bulk of the year.
  • Continuation of online classes as a substitute/ supplement.
  • Hence, changes in consumption patterns.
  • More focus on core products.
  • Greater online purchases.
  • Digital marketing to play a stellar role – Youva is moving ahead on this front.
  • Speed & agility will be key factors for winning in the ever changing and uncertain marketplace. Navneet is honing skills in the relevant areas.
  • Modern trade to contribute more significantly.

Key learnings from 2020

  • Speed & agility in operations.
  • Increasing importance of E-commerce.
  • Criticality of digital marketing. Importance of pin-point slicing & dicing of the Target Group.
  • Maintaining market/ trade relationships, even during lockdown, over phones, etc.
  • Same applies to schools.
  • Dynamic production & inventory planning.
  • Decision making is not affected by working from home. Virtual meetings are effective.
  • Cash flow management is critical.

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