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Observations from Leading Merchant Businesses on Operating Remotely

With governments globally only allowing e-commerce as an exempted business model during an extended lockdown, brick & mortar retail chains struggle to spruce up digital sales initiatives. The FMCG industry has seen a sharp increase in revenues, with consumers stocking up on essentials, as well as an increase in general consumption due to consumers staying more at home.

Marketplaces like Amazon, or a Flipkart are in this situation, taking on opportunities with hyperlocal delivery players, the way food-and-grocery retailers functioned. The online grocery market is divided into two models – inventory-led and hyperlocal-delivery. Head of Supply Chain at Grofers, Rohit Sharma said if retailers approach their platform now, it could bring forth a strong logistic partner network, exactly what they needed to scale.

Asian consumers have also been stockpiling personal hygiene goods in the wake of the outbreak, according to Nielsen. Shares of top 3 brands dropped from 85% in Jan to 39% in March, after almost 152 players entered the segment. Similarly, about 65% of the consumers have tried new or alternate brands, of which nearly 10% intend to not switch back, according to a latest McKinsey study.

On the bright side, brands now have more time on their hands to introspect on how to improve certain aspects of their businesses when they’re not hustling – like they used to. Learnings from this economic disruption will go down in history, and a few strategies may just be developed, to stay.

It all depends on how teams – online and offline, utilize their time, ensure business continuity, improve productivity, and most importantly, run operations by keeping up with safety standards, maintaining customer satisfaction and retention.

Recently, we ran a survey with our merchant business community. An interesting trend we saw was that 58% of merchant leaders are prioritizing product innovation to emerge stronger post the crisis, as compared to 21% who voted for business model and service delivery innovation.

Industry body RAI (Retailers Association of India) CEO Kumar Rajagopalan announced that they’ve reached out to the government to include home delivery services, and not just e-commerce, as exempt businesses so that even the small and medium retailers can deliver to home. He said the large chains are already on e-commerce.

Governments, brands (private and public), retailers and medical institutions – basically everyone is planning strategies keeping health and essential demands on top priority, followed by product innovation and the rest.

Countries in SEA didn’t immediately go into lockdown, hence the demand here didn’t see sudden drops. We saw categories such as entertainment, medical services,gaming, groceries – grow exponentially. Interestingly, we saw a jump in charity initiatives by 80%, which is really great!

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force retail stores to close, signaling an unprecedented disruption of commerce, the post-pandemic world will be primarily impacted by 3 factors –

  • Consumers will have adopted short-term behaviors during the pandemic that in many cases will become permanent,
  • Consumers will emerge from the pandemic in a new economic reality, changing commerce behaviors in profound ways,
  • Significant consolidation of retailers will fundamentally alter the competitive and partner landscape.

Retailers are facing massive economic disruptions, and merchant business leaders around the globe are doing everything they possibly can to keep consumers’ interest before everything else! To make sure we’re doing everything we can to support our partners and employees, we’ve recently launched Vymo’s WFH solution. Over the last three weeks, we’ve helped 10,000+ field personnel move to remote operations in less than 72 hours.

Here’s how some of our clients have found value in the fact that they can,

  • Continue customer engagement while ensuring safety and compliance though secure calling and video conferencing
  • Distribute and coordinate tasks centrally and communicate effectively through broadcasts and targeted notifications
  • Gain visibility through a command center with a unified view of key metrics like agent/rep adoption and customer coverage

Here is the recording of the session:

If you have any questions for Prasun Jain or Muhammad Talha Ansari, drop us a note on We’ll check with them and let you know their thoughts on it!

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