Covid-19 – Adapt, Survive and Thrive

India Gate. (File Photo: IANS)

Large parts of India are still in a state of epidemic elevation, this coronavirus outbreak has widespread repercussions on all areas of life and society. Not least the economy. The lockdown has forced many companies to shut down temporarily due to lower sales or production. The business activity has come to a grinding halt, cashflow problems ensue and personnel needs to be laid off. Some industries that are struggling more than others are manufacturing, building and construction, auto-sector, transportation, aviation, hotels and tourism, real-estate, traditional non-food retail, and professional services. All these industries put together are quite literally the backbone sectors that carries India. Another thing these industries have in common is that they are in a sense, traditional, sectors that rely on physical tools, equipment, and a workforce or customer-base who is present in person. Naturally, due to the lockdown and social distancing, companies with these legacy business models are bound to suffer.

An uptick in the online market through digitalization

At the same time, there are businesses that are doing well during the Covid-19 epidemic, some have even elevated as consumer behaviour in India has changed since the lockdown started at the beginning of March. Many consumers are looking to spend their money online to receive services they would normally seek out themselves in person. When it comes to retail and clothes shipping in particular, instead of visiting the local DLF mall, people are shopping online. This has provided retail stores with a presence online to weather out the epidemic without any business discontinuity. The same goes for food retail where restaurants are doing well by offering takeout. Popular transportation apps such as Uber have positioned themselves well to cope with the slowdown by offering delivery services for food through Uber Eats. As people are spending most of their time inside, they end up spending a lot of time in front of the TV and their mobile phones. Instead of going to the cinema people are watching a lot more of Netflix and playing games online. Online gaming is seeing a surge both in terms of regular video games and betting with real money on casino games. As sporting events have stopped, fantasy sports apps are thriving, where people can bet money and build teams where fictional matches are played and cash prizes are rewarded to winning players. The government is wary of this development around betting with real money, as there are looming concerns that it may lead to an increase in problem gambling with more people participating in these activities online.

Post-epidemic changes

There are several industries that may experience a different reality after this epidemic blows over. One of these is the banking industry. India is to this day, a very cash-dependent country, or rather, a cash-driven economy. There are large-scale projects around demonetization, however, these have had a very small impact on how transactions are made in the country. With the current situation, Indians are wary about using cash as a means to pay for goods. This may lead to a change post-corona virus, where the fintech industry stands to gain as banking and finance become digital to a larger extent to what we’re seeing today. Edtech is expected to leap forward thanks to the epidemic, we are already seeing a transition to online education as schools and classes are shut down. For many types of education, there is no need to be present in a classroom, so we can expect a change in conventional schooling models where popular learning platforms and tools stand to gain from the changes.

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