Moving online, opened a new front for them
Businesses in Karnataka are making a comeback after a complete or partial termination of operations due to lockdowns. They are attempting a fresh start after experiencing low consumer demand, supply fluctuations and lockdown restrictions.
Nishit Arora, owner of Canyon Mart, which sells belts and padlocks, informed The Observer: “We had to close our shop. Fewer customers came around. Most of them went online. Labour got scared of the pandemic. Most went back to their villages. I still had to give salaries to my employees to help them cope with the situation. I couldn’t have abandoned them.”
“Luckily, we had a warehouse away from the main market which gave us an edge over our competitors. We were able to function and supply to our clientele. We shifted our operations online, made a website for our brand. So it was no longer important for me to be constantly present at the shop. We linked ourselves to e-commerce portals like Amazon and Meesho and our sales increased. In the end, the pandemic helped us wield our innate potential. Moving online opened a new front for us,” he added.
Workers are moving back to cities from their villages as work has gained momentum.
Amit Kumar, a worker who manages Canyon Mart’s factory said: “Trains stopped functioning. I stayed in the city for a few days. But I wanted to go home. I was scared of the growing Covid cases. So I went back on foot. When my boss called me back, I couldn’t because of fear. My family wanted me to stay with them. I received my salary from my boss and did not face any difficulty on that front. Now, work is going well. My boss has given me a room in the factory. I no longer have to travel to work. This saves my time as well as room rent.”
Customers are adjusting to the new normal. Some are adapting gradually, while many are already accustomed to the online world.
Abhishek Gupta, a customer at Canyon Mart, shared: “Now I can order stuff online. Pictures of belts and locks are displayed on the website. This makes it easy for me to decide what I want. “
Exporters were badly affected with the government permitting the export of only essential commodities.
Aman Malhotra, CEO of Kanha Garments, which export garments, said: “We couldn’t export outside India. Foreign customers could not visit to check the quality of the garment as flights ceased. So many customers who earlier bought from us started buying from other countries. The Chinese and Vietnamese governments allowed exports but the Indian government did not. So our customers ordered from there. It was a huge loss for my business.”
“Now, as the cases have come down, work keeps getting better. Many buyers are switching from Chinese products to Indian products. We have fewer competitors as many businesses have succumbed to Covid-19,” he added.
Decreasing Covid-19 cases have come as a ray of hope for businesses that have suffered due to the pandemic.
Braja Kishore Pradha, Vice President of Aahwahan Foundation, an NGO that helps people find employment, said: “The pandemic deeply impacted businesses and their functioning. The IT sector was still able to function smoothly as people can access information, data and services online. But some businesses have to function offline. They have suffered the most. People felt reluctant to invest in small businesses as nobody knew how the scenario might turn out to be. Now, investments are finally being initiated. It will take another six months for everything to beback on track. According to me, 20-30 percent firms are now functioning better. They are making some profits.”
In the wake of the pandemic, the Centre imposed a nationwide lockdown in March 2020 to help halt rising Covid cases. The restrictions were eased in May. Many states had imposed restraints on the movement of vehicles and people as the number of Covid cases started spiralling. Many businesses ceased activity while some functioned at 50 percent of their capacity.