Due to a strict policy of nationwide lockdown and social distancing, the servicing sector can only bide its time for the situation to normalise. Its only hope is that the coronavirus curve flattens soon and the economy recovers.
But realistically speaking, the post-COVID picture doesn’t look appealing as a host of factors pivoted against the service industry for home appliances. It has been one of the hardest-hit industries as it has to maintain feet on the ground for physical repair.
Here are some key factors slated to have a long-term deterring effect on the servicing sector:
The financial state will emerge as the most significant driver that will preside across all industrial avenues. With job slashes and a general fall in income presumed as per the current industry patterns, the consumer emotion, too, is expected to shift to conservationism from the erstwhile buyer-friendly mood.
It’s hard to imagine people buying new appliances in the immediate future. With product installations making up 50 percent of the revenue flow for the service provider sector, this course is projected to dwindle radically in the post-COVID world. The sector should prepare well in advance to meet a steep cut in services that complement novel product sales, and the revenue gained.
Repairs pileup factor
As the industry gets around 25 million electronic products for fixing every month, the approximate quantity of product inventory that is likely to accumulate during the lockdown is expected to be mountain-high.
Owing to such amass of products due for repair, the maintenance sector of the industry is likely to feel the pressure due to the giant stock of repair demands post-lockdown. This will automatically lead to a decrease in income for service providers as product users will probably seek unconventional methods for swift repair, to save money and time.
The fall in expendable earnings of the customers may trigger a surge in demand for repair services. However, this traction commencing post-lockdown will be a result of consumers opting for essential repairs only.
A shift in consumer behaviour
The central factor here would be the general apprehension felt by consumers concerning a technician visiting their homes for service repairs. The extensive lockdown period has resulted in a fearful psychosis of the consumer mass against any outsider due to the contamination phobia.
No consumer would be willing to compromise the safety and sanctity of their homes by permitting repair personnel into their premises. This behavioural change is expected to last for a considerable time until the situation neutralises.
The Hot Spot factor
With over 60 percent the nation’s districts witnessing a complete or a partial lockdown and the discontinuity of the various brands and their customer care centre operations, the situation looks bleak and in dire need of an effective fix. As long as the Tier-I cities remain in red zones or are categorised as hotspots, the availability of technicians hardly matters as they cannot respond to repair requests from these cities.
The role of Tech startups in reviving the industry
As every dark cloud carries a silver lining, there has been one reassuring development since the lockdown. The sudden surge of nationwide technological adoption and the digitisation of operation channels due to social distancing and lockdown.
The widespread permeation of mobile technology and online mediums of exchange has become the new way of carrying out business. It is critical now for businesses to realign and revamp their mode of operation as per the changing world and the shift in consumer dynamics.
For instance, the rapid tech-driven leap will usher a lot of innovations in the servicing and repairs industry such as video-led remote diagnostics.
Some corporates have introduced this as a new go-to medium, offering a preferred and capable first contact for both service providers as well as consumers. By providing free of cost video repair service nationally, these startups are extending a much-needed respite to the customers.
These startups are using popular e-communication channels such as WhatsApp and Google Meet to provide remote diagnostic techniques to help people repair appliances such as refrigerators, water purifiers, air conditioners, washing machines, gas-burners etc.
Moreover, to keep the field workforce working, which is the most important part of the home appliance repair business, some startups are integrating route navigation with real-time COVID hotspot tracker on their technician field app. This way the technicians can avoid the red zones and the spread of the virus.
The stay-at-home mandate has increased both the usage and dependency on home appliances, with the summer season commencing, air conditioners and water cooler will soon prove to be extremely crucial. The positive side to this fix is that through technology and the desire to serve no matter what, many startups are helping people overcome the adversities.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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