The lockdown has hit businesses hard. Revenues for many organisations have come to a zilch, something never seen before. But, writing off this unprecedented event as a one-off will be wrong. We are staring at much bigger problems in the future (think floods and droughts led by climate change). And, India Inc understands this. Many firms today, big or small, are using the downtime to explore alternate revenue streams that will not depend on the cyclical nature of markets and ensure stability and continuity.
Online automobile marketplace Droom has come up with a three-pronged strategy. "We are exploring opportunities which didn't exist in the past, the opportunity that will come once market recovers, and lessons from this unprecedented event to make our business resilient and stable in the long run," says its founder and CEO Sandeep Aggarwal.
They are tapping into the unsold inventory with dealers and OEMs as a new business opportunity. This will be a decaying asset and dealers will be keen on selling it fast once market recovers. Droom is piloting different ways to tap into that market.
As part of the second plan, they have launched a new service Germ-shield, an anti-microbial surface protection shield that protects surfaces against SARS and other droplet-based viruses for up to three months. They started with automobiles and now have expanded it to facilities such as hospitals, offices, schools, day care residential complex, retail spaces, elevators, and ATMs. They have provided this service to Ola, Gurgaon Police, Noida police, among others. The firm's 100 employees are involved in this service alone. "The idea is to explore projects that can create steady stream of revenue, rather than cyclical revenue," says Aggarwal.
E-tailer Snapdeal too is using this as an opportunity to create additional services for its users. Snapdeal is leveraging the traffic on its website to explore a wider array of partnerships they can strike, for instance, in categories such as content and insurance, among others. As an e-commerce player, one of their key strengths is the large array of independent sellers on their platform that are distributed across the country. When there was a shortage of essential goods, they tapped into the seller base and their network to access essential goods. "We partnered with our sellers to start intracity delivery to ease and hasten the movement of goods," said Rajnish Wahi, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communication. They also tapped into their third-party logistics partners such as Blue Dart, Delhivery to provide the link between the seller and the consumer. "While our decision to start grocery deliveries was in response to the urgent needs of our customers, we see this as a recurring demand," he adds.
Sterling Holiday Resorts is looking at revenue streams that can deliver during these times. "The downtime is a way to relook at every part of the business to see where opportunities lie ahead and the new capabilities needed to be build. To do that, we have also created teams on models for the future," says Jacob Peter, CHRO, Sterling Holiday Resorts. Each of their team is looking at different project: one is on digitalisation, another on creating virtual offices with minimal physical infrastructure. They are also looking at shared services, for instance, on what all resources can be centralised and shared across different resorts. "These projects don't get the luxury of attention and time which we have now," says Peter.
Budget hotel brand FabHotels is looking at strengthening its B2B offering. It already contributes 40 per cent to the business. When the lockdown was anticipated and there was buzz about social distancing, they launched the #WorkfromFabHotels initiative. Several companies in the IT/ ITeS, BPO, logistics/ delivery spaces, which had to continue their operations, got their employees to work from their hotel rooms where they would work productively maintaining the optimum social distance of one person per room. They also tied up with hospitals such as Apollo & AIIMS so that the medical practitioners and paramedic staff doesn't have to travel long hours and can stay nearby the place of work. "We are actively building up initiatives where companies and institutions would find value in branded, sanitised hotels in a post-COVID world," says Adarssh Mnpuria, co-founder, FabHotels.