After going through a roller coaster ride in the COVID-19 hit year of 2020, Indian IT channel is all set to kick start the year 2021 with hope and optimism. Channel partners say that the previous year was instrumental in redefining their business strategies to adapt to the New Normal. According to them the IT hardware business will maintain the growth momentum in 2021 as virtual and contactless engagement gain prominence and segments such as Storage, Server, Networking and Gaming PC (All-in-one) will stimulate the industry growth.
“During the pandemic time, we realised the necessity of an online presence to keep our business up and running. This year our priority is to launch a company website and social media handles to promote our business”, Mr. Ankit Dugar, Director of Kolkata based Grapewine Networking Pvt Ltd., adding, “We are also contemplating to list our company on the GEM portal to enter into the B2B business.”
Another key learning was effective and regular communication with customers. Partners focused on strengthening their customer relations to ensure recurrent business. “As not much business was happening in April, May and June, we decided to strengthen our relations with customers so that when the lockdown is lifted, they will first remember us for their requirements,”, said Mr. Nichay Gupta, Director of Mumbai based DataForce.
Partners also realised the importance of having a healthy bottom line during the pandemic. Hence, striking a balance between revenue and profit is crucial for the channel business in this year.
Expansion and diversification are the key focus areas of the business roadmap of channel partners. Many partners are exploring to step into the growing PC and Gaming business, whereas some of them are focused on geo-expansion and B2B business.
Gaming is another vertical, which witnessed a steady growth during the lockdown. Consumers prefer to buy Gaming desktops and laptops for entertainment as well as for work/learning. The demand for gaming solutions and accessories will continue to grow in 2021, hence, partners are building their capabilities to tap this market. Within gaming PCs, customers are opting for All-in-one desktops, which is currently the rapidly growing category within the PC segment.
Partners hailed the support received from brands and national distributors during the lockdown. However, this year they expect OEMs and NDs to be more supportive and flexible in terms of price, product availability and credit policies.
Apart from support in terms of price, credit and inventory, partners also voiced out the allocation of marketing budgets. “Vendor management allows us to build a relationship with NDs and service providers that will strengthen both businesses. The process should be properly structured so that it is a win-win for both sides. Secondly, distributor expectation in marketing should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. We expect both OEMs and NDs to support us with product, market information, training and marketing support, said Mr. Nilesh Shah, Director of Pune based Komal Systems.