Lesson learned during pandemic to help FMCG firms, retailers as cases spikes

·4-min read

New Delhi, Apr 9 (PTI) As COVID-19 cases are surging in several cities amid the second wave of the pandemic, leading retailers and FMCG companies are cautious this time to ensure a bare minimum impact on their supply line and stocks.

Applying the lessons learnt from the Lockdown, the companies are ensuring a minimum disruption in their supply chains and are reaching out to customers directly after getting orders through portals, app, or social media platforms such as WhatsApp.

'We have absorbed all the learnings from the past year with regard to disruption in the supply chain and evolving consumption and buying behaviour of customers. We are now better equipped to ensure enough stock availability for our customers, especially the kiranas,' said a METRO Cash & Carry India spokesperson.

The retailers have invested to augment their e-commerce sales system and omnichannel by using an app and other social media platforms as well as integrating with the physical store.

'We also have our e-commerce app for convenient online shopping for our customers. 70 per cent of our app customers are exhibiting Hybrid (Online & Offline) buying behaviour and we are witnessing repeat orders from our trader and kiranas customers,' he said.

Future group retailing brand Big Bazaar, which had recently given a push to its online sales by assuring a two-hour instant delivery at the consumer’s doorstep, said its staff are already ready to handle such a situation.

'While the buying sentiment has turned shaky in some markets that are highly impacted by the current spate of lockdowns, we are applying learnings from last year on streamlining the supply chain to ensure minimal disruption in supplies,' Dabur India Executive Director-Sales Adarsh Sharma said.

Some of the measures implemented last year, like order-booking through our call centre and WhatsApp, continue to function and have been stepped up, he added.

'In addition, we have increased the frequency of supplies to distributors and outlets in the impacted markets to tide over any potential impact,' Sharma added.

Homegrown FMCG firm Emami said based on its earlier experience, it is prepared to manage any sudden local lockdown and resultant uncertainties if any.

'We are agile and keeping a close watch on the situation. Simultaneously, we are beefing up our supply chain by building stock of both finished goods as well as RMPM, wherever necessary. We are also trying to ensure that our stocks are nearest to the selling point as much as possible so that our response time is minimised to tackle the situation in the event of any disruption,' Emami Director Harsha V Agarwal said.

EY Partner and National Leader, Consumer Products and Retail Pinakiranjan Mishra said though there is some worry this time, but there are a couple of positives also, as now the industry has learned lessons as to how to run factories in such conditions during the lockdown.

'This time risk on disruption of production and supply line is lower,' he said, adding that now people have learned to live and manage in such situation.

However, Mishra said the retail sector would have a bigger impact of the sudden surge of the pandemic as people will reduce or lessen their visits to malls and stores.

'The online would continue, which most of the retailers have started but the offline business will have an impact,' he added.

According to him, the next 3-4 weeks are very crucial and if we manage the pace of vaccination, then it would be much better otherwise, it would be worrisome.

'Right now, on the supply and infra side, the worry is lower, what was earlier. The consumer side is the issue,' he added.

For the companies operating in the food & beverage sphere, the out-of-home channel remains a concern.

The out-of-home consumption, which was showing some signs of recovery, is likely to take a hit once again during this period but expects the 'in-home consumption' to go up.

'In-home demand for PepsiCo portfolio across categories has witnessed a robust growth in the last couple of months given the continuous availability of our products through right partnerships and affordable price points to suit different occasions and consumer needs,' said a PepsiCo India spokesperson.

With in-home occasions of togetherness increasing manifold, the food portfolio has seen an upsurge in demand for larger pack sizes.

'As we move forward, we feel affordability and convenience will continue to be the driving factors for in-home consumption, especially when consumers are staying or working from home more in these challenging times,' he said. PTI KRH BAL BAL