[India MSME Summit 2021] How COVID-19 brought the electronics and hardware companies closer to their customers

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During YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021, experts decoded what more people working from home meant for the Indian electronics and hardware industry.
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Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, companies quickly pivoted to work from home to keep their operations going. It became the new normal for most corporates around the world. 

As companies adapt to the new normal amidst a worldwide economic slump, electronic companies reported an increase in sales figures. And, the reason behind this increase in sales was simple — people needed hardware to work from home now, more than ever.

During YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021, Rohit Nandwani, COO of Hammer, Mandeep Arora, Co-founder of UBON, and Gaurav Khatri, Co-founder of Noise, in a panel discussion, decoded what more people working from home meant for the Indian electronics and hardware industry.

Bringing companies closer to customers

According to Gaurav, in the last year, his company has come closer to its customers. Rohit and Mandeep agreed, saying they have had to make extra efforts to understand what the consumers want since most people were now working from home. 

Rohit highlighted that the demand for audio products rose significantly. Mandeep, on the other hand, said UBON has had to ramp up the production of data cables and chargers “by a lot.”

The co-founder of Noise attested that his team members conducted Zoom calls with their customers to understand their needs. He said, “By interacting with our customers, we realised they want products that have a flawless noise quality.”

In 2020, Gaurav’s company Noise was compelled to produce audio products that have (external) noise cancellation, dual mic, and more. “We are focussed on delivering products that have better call quality going forward.”

The Make in India approach

Before the pandemic, the electronics market was heavily dependent on China. One of the trends that emerged strongly amidst COVID-19 was how India was forced to look for solutions in its backyard. 

According to Mandeep, the pandemic has fast-forwarded the Indian electronics and hardware industry by five years.

Rohit also pointed out that before the pandemic struck, companies did not explore Indian manufacturers much. “We followed the example of tech giants. Like others, we believed that China provides economies of scale so let’s import components from there,” he added.

He said the Indian electronics market is gradually transitioning from setting up mere assembly lines to developing an entire ecosystem of local manufacturers and suppliers. 

Gaurav highlighted that India needs to move forward with a ‘Make in India’ approach, adding, “We have realised in the last one year that you have to put time and effort into manufacturing.”

The government should roll out policies that encourage the buying of electronics products from India itself, added Mandeep. 

Edited by Suman Singh