In an interaction with Industry Outlook, Pradeep Bakshi, Managing Director and CEO at Voltas shares his views on how the smart appliances market is evolving with adoption of new technologies.
How do you see the current Smart Appliances market in India? What are the major factors driving its growth?
While at a nascent stage, the smart appliance market in India holds immense business potential. The category is growing steadily with sufficient headroom to grow. At a macro level, IOT has been enabled by a rise of more efficient computing power, on demand cloud computing, decreasing cost of connectivity and increasing smartphone penetration.
As the market matures, the application and software ecosystem will also develop and see rapid changes. Category adoption of smart appliances has also been aided by the rise of smart homes and home automation. Increasingly, the more affluent consumer segments are adopting home automation solutions. This creates opportunity for smart appliances.
At Voltas, we want to utilize the immense potential of technology to better serve our consumers. Voltas home appliances like Dishwashers and Washing Machines offer remote monitoring features enabled through smart applications. As an increasing number of people get familiarized with smart home systems, the market size is bound to expand in the coming years.
How do you assess the impact of pandemic on this sector? What were the major challenges thrown up by the pandemic and how did manufacturers address those challenges?
With the disruption caused by the lockdown and Covid-19 in 2020, people are spending more time at home than ever before, juggling their professional and household responsibilities. In the ‘new normal’, consumers are likely to invest in automated, technologically superior products to ease their lives. Convenience led product categories such as washing machines, microwaves and dishwashers will continue to see a spike as people aim to become more self-reliant.
In the past few months, the overall appliances sector has seen a healthy growth due to pent up demand. In addition, with consumers having higher need for convenience, categories like Dishwashers and Microwaves have seen healthy traction.
As many consumers continue to work from home, the need for convenience, connectivity and greater productivity has increased. Consumers now have even greater need for smart and connected appliances to save time and effort into doing everyday tasks.
But the most dramatic change in the past few months has been the accelerated adoption of digital solutions. Consumers are now far more willing to embrace digital solutions than before. This is equally applicable for new product categories as well as new digital channels for purchase.
The challenges that were faced by most manufacturers during the pandemic were particularly to do with availability of skilled labor and disruption in supply chain. Having said this, it is important to understand that the temporary interruption in the industry was not due to lack of demand. There was enough demand for functional and entry level products. And hence, to address this growing demand for cooling products and home appliances, we took some key steps like shifting stocking focus to high demand goods, penetration in more rural, less affected zones, and increasing the manufacturing capacities to keep up with the demand. We will be looking to further enhance our production capacity of air conditioners in the coming years, through another plant in the South.
One of the key points that I would like to highlight and stress upon is that during this period of economic crisis we reduced our dependency on important and stressed on MADE IN INDIA products, I am proud to say that in the case of Voltas BEKO, 80% of the products sold are made from our factories in India, this way we not only support the governments initiative of “ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT” but also strive towards all making all our products “MADE IN INDIA”.
How do you see the level of technology maturity and its adoption in the smart appliances sector in India? Which new technologies are being leveraged by businesses in order to manage and monitor operations effectively?
Although the size of consumer durables market in India is massive and has a great potential, the level of technological adoption is still at a nascent stage.