FMCG major HUL expects technology adoption in distribution channel, including neighbourhood stores besides e-commerce, to speed up as a result of consumers' experience during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Hindustan Unilever (HUL) CMD Sanjiv Mehta, the company will be ready to serve its consumers through any channel that they would prefer to shop, be it big format stores, kirana stores or online.
"Different channels have different shopping missions. People go to a big format store on certain occasion, they go to a neighbourhood store on certain occasion but yes this crisis will habituate and I believe that it would give a fillip to e-commerce, there is no question about that," he said in a conference call on the company's quarterly earnings on Thursday.
Mehta further said, "It would also give a fillip, whether it is a big store or a neighbourhood store, to adopt technology and serve consumer better. I believe that from a perspective of a distribution channel, this is certainly a moment where adoption of technology would speed up." Commenting on consumer habits during the COVID-19-induced lockdown, he said there are two big emerging trends.
"One is the relevance of humble grocers, who are always important for India. I believe that people have realised their benefits .. and the second is e-commerce. Certainly, as people would like to place their order from home, which would definitely give a fillip to e-commerce and we would be ready for that," Mehta added. The company has taken several initiatives over the past couple of years by introducing its e-commerce initiative humarashop.com.
"As things normalise, we have humarashop, which clearly from reverence and importance perspective, that becomes very strategic ... We would be looking as how to reach consumers in the best possible way and going to serve consumers," he said. Mehta also said there is an expectation of a surge in the sale of hygiene and nutrition products post lockdown and the company is ready for that.
"There would be a hike in need, very clearly, for hygiene and nutrition products. There would be no question about that. We would be willing to provide this to shoppers and consumers, in whichever channel, they would like to," he said. Commenting on current situation on production, Mehta said the focus is on goods that are in demand by people.
"Our entire focus was on health hygiene and those kinds of products so that we could maximise our products," he said adding that for several weeks, products such as colour cosmetic were not manufactured.Coronavirus crisis: RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das to meet bank chiefs today: What's on the agenda?
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