Manufacturing in the time of COVID -19

  • Posted By:ToolClinic Admin
  • Posted On:23-Jun-2020
blog title image  After suffering from the downturn in the automotive industry when everyone was hopeful for a better year, something unexpected happened – the arrival of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). It has disturbed the global economy and India is no exception.

Though there have been fewer cases in India, the situation in China has impacted and will continue to affect the global supply chain in the days to come. According to Crisil, approximately 18% of India’s total merchandise imports are from China. India had a trade deficit of $159 billion as of calendar 2019 and it remains a net importer from China (including Hong Kong) of $56 billion. The worst-hit are industries like electronics, auto components, and manufacturing.

To minimise the spread of COVID-19, governments around the world are advising citizens to avoid any kind of mass gathering. This has impacted trade shows/ exhibitions around the world. Several exhibitions are already canceled while some are postponed. In such a scenario, how do B2B companies (especially machine tools, mould makers, and 3D Printing suppliers) who are dependent on such trade exhibitions going to promote their products and solutions? How do they reach out to their potential customers?

To answer this let me share my conversation with the owners of two of the job shops. This is what I realized:

Job shop A: The job shop generates business worth Rs 20 crore (about $2.8 million). The owner was worried about the impact of COVID – 19 on his business. He solely depends on trade shows for marketing and meeting potential clients. Since most of the exhibitions around the world have been called off or on the verge of being postponed, he is not sure how to reach out to potential clients and promote his solutions and services. (This job shop is 23-year-old, though there is a website to its name but it doesn’t do justice to their capabilities.)

Job shop B: This job shop manufactures automotive components and mould, among others. The revenue generated is about Rs 15 crore ($2 million). Interestingly, the owner informed that since the last month he was witnessed a good number of inquiries from countries like the USA, Israel, and other European nations. According to him, they are looking for suppliers in India because China is on a standstill. Though he is worried about the coming days, he is also hopeful of getting export orders because of the situation in China. (The job shop is only 7-year-old and the owner has invested in a decent website showcasing the job shop’s capabilities attracting inquiries.)

The industry expects a lukewarm response to the trade shows, at least in the first half of this year (for the ones that are not canceled), why not put some of the money kept aside for these shows to create your company website or making the existing ones better?

Further, explain your services better and start your social media activities. In my opinion, it can be done by focusing on digital marketing activities, which is long due.

Most of the Indian SMEs in these industries usually skip digital marketing (Several players do not even have a website), which means no presence in the social scene. I feel it’s high time these players change their promotion strategy.

Picture this, businesses in different geographies need services and want to explore the options, how will they find them? Obviously, by browsing the internet. If you have a strong online presence and have taken SEO seriously, they might land at your website. Further, if you have good content, there are high chances you will get yourself an inquiry. If you don’t have an online presence or the website content is not self-explanatory of your services and capabilities, they will turn away. Remember the old phrase, “The first impression is the last impression,”

So, why not start with a company website, followed by:

  • Social media activities
  • Investing in SEO
  • Preparing knowledge-sharing contents
  • Attending webinars
  • Investing some time on platforms like Linkedin

Another thing worth investing time is, collaborating with the On-Demand-Manufacturing platform. The on-demand-manufacturing concept has created a buzz in the manufacturing industry. These platforms take orders from different businesses and take the help of their manufacturing partners to complete them. You can list your company in one of these platforms and explore more opportunities.

In India, we have job shops led by experienced technocrats who have all the technical capabilities to cater to the requirement of the large OEMs, but we fail to market this. In the current time of rapid globalization, it is time we talk about our capabilities and reach out to customers from across the globe.

Coming back to Novel Coronavirus, yes these are challenging times, but the crisis is temporary. Let’s use this opportunity to concentrate on building brand equity by engaging with consumers and providing them with quality service.

Let’s hope for better days and pray for everyone who is affected by COVID-19.

Author: Nishant Kashyap