Due to the breakdown of the unfortunate Corona Virus pandemic, several countries across the world had to implement lockdown of various magnitudes and insist people to stay home unless required. These lockdowns meant confining millions of citizens to their homes, shutting down businesses and ceasing almost all economic activity for months. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy is expected to shrink by over 3 per cent in 2020 the steepest slowdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The COVID-19 outbreak is a reminder that pandemic like these have happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future. No amount of technology or intelligence can help us prevent it from happening, if nature decides to unveil its wrath upon us.
The current outbreak has had severe economic consequences across the globe. This not only has consequences for the economy, all of society is affected, which has led to dramatic changes in how businesses act and consumers behave. Companies, especially start-ups, have implemented an indefinite hiring freeze. At the same time, online communication, online entertainment, and online shopping are seeing massive growth.
The traffic of internet gained unprecedentedly during 2020. The pandemic changed the way we reckon on Internet. Being stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with movie theaters closed, no restaurants to dine in, and complete shutdown of educational institutes, sports, health facilities, people throughout the country have been spending more of their lives online without any other option.
Drastic change in Online Business and major damage to economy
India’s small businesses, particularly retailers, have lobbied hard for restraint on large online retailers alleging predatory pricing and malpractices. But they too are now moving online as people are still afraid of venturing outdoors even though India has unlocked and eased strictest on intra and inter state movement of private vehicles and individuals. India’s monthly active internet user base is estimated to reach 639 million by the end of 2020. Internet has proven its to be alive and breathing as it has helped people stay home to break the alarming chain of pandemic.
Amazon Business in India recorded a 50% increase in new seller registrations by small businesses post-lockdown. It offers an easy opportunity to small businesses, retailers to show case their unique products to the world as Amazon is promoting their platform. Indian Government’s stand off with China and unofficial boycott of Chinese products and services, also policies like public display of ‘Country of Origin’ of a product also helped boost registrations by Indian small businesses e-commerce platforms. It is not just Amazon but Flipkart and other social media platforms are also getting popular among small businesses unlike ever before. The COVID-19 outbreak is likely to cause bankruptcy for many well-known brands in many industries as consumers stay at home and economies are shut down. Limiting shopping to necessary house essentials is becoming the new normal. Amazon has recently reported sales for groceries online which has tripled owing to Corona Virus pandemic. Brands are having to adapt and be flexible to meet changing needs, for instance Amazon has increased its grocery delivery capacity by 160%.
Right now, as consumers increasingly rely on Internet based methods to prepare for a possible emergency, retailers also need to ensure smooth, friction-less and fast experience on their eCommerce websites and mobile applications. E-commerce purchases of the virus protection category of products such as hand sanitizers, gloves, masks and antibacterial sprays have surged by 817%, no wonder online purchases for toilet paper have spiked by 186%, according to the Adobe data. Adobe’s analysis of eCommerce transactions also found that purchases for cold, cough & flu products have increased 198%, while online purchases for pain relievers increased 152%.
Business during Pandemic
The Travel industry is hugely affected, 80% of hotel rooms are vacant, Airlines world-wide are cutting their workforce substantially, and tourist destinations are likely to see no profits in 2020. Furthermore conferences, sporting events, and other large meeting gatherings as well as cultural establishments such as galleries and museums have been temporarily shutdown. The great Indian sport festival Indian Premier League is also postponed and now moved from India to Dubai, which is a serious economic blow for related businesses in India.
While some businesses are struggling, other businesses are thriving and cashing in. Not all but majority of Internet-based businesses, such as those related to online entertainment, food delivery, online shopping, online education, and solutions for remote work are doing good. Since the movie theatre are completely closed most of the recent films are streaming on Netflix, Amazon prime or Disney Hotstar. Netflix added 15.77 million new subscribers globally in the first quarter of 2020, more than double of its expectation. Netflix stock increased 14% since the beginning of the year, which is expected to keep growing in the next few months as the pandemic continues. People will stay away from theaters at least for 1-2 years minimum with lot of things shifted meanwhile.
Other than tourism and entertainment industries, genuine sports events has also undergone serious crisis. This year Wimbledon got cancelled too. Typically organizer or insurer of the event has to shell out 144 million dollars for a tennis match, which is not feasible owing to social distancing norms. The BCCI decided to hold the IPL 2020 in UAE this year due to an increase in number of COVID-19 cases in India. IPL is the most popular T20 cricket league and its brand value in 2019 was 475 billion and is the main revenue earner for the BCCI.
Online Education and skill development platforms met growth
The Corona Virus pandemic has not only affected the way we live, but it has also affected the way we study and develop ourselves.
Over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures: UNESCO
According to a report by LiveMint, India has nearly 300 million kids enrolled in about 1.4 million schools and 51,000 colleges. In India, almost 70% of the schools are run and managed by Government bodies.
Therefore, the Government has come up with e-learning program. Almost all the schools and colleges across the globe have moved to online education to ensure course curricular keeps moving even as students sit at home.
Education is the backbone of a great Nation, and if education is affected the quality of Human development Index (HDI) is automatically affected, and indeed India already stands very far (129th position) in the HDI rank of all countries released by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The fundamentals of Indian education system remain strong and necessary changes to recuperate with the prevailing social dynamics in imparting education are being incorporated at various levels.
Students need high-speed internet connection and laptops or mobiles to attend their online sessions or watch pre-recorded classes. Few years back, online education was considered not as effective as the traditional methods of teaching in many parts of the country, but ever since the breakdown of COVID-19, things have changed. It can also be said that it is the only means left to impart education, since everyone has to maintain social distancing to stay safe at home. Students should adapt, same goes for the Teachers, adopting change and providing education online was challenging and it requires co-operation from both sides. Parents need to motivate their children to not loss hope and be practical.
Many individuals are taking this time positively as a break to boost their skills with multiple programs available online. You can also increase your skills by enrolling to such online courses. You can now learn new skills while helping health workers and government by being home. There are many platforms created to enable online education in India. Some are supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and the department of technical education. While private, commercial and community based platforms viz. Udemy, Udacity, Edx, Coursera are always there to help you gain more skill-based knowledge with certificates and degrees that provide you even more employment opportunities.
COVID-19 Pandemic would not go overnight. We have to adapt and live with it. Internet has proven itself to be an indispensable part of our life. The present situation might be a good opportunity to develop the school educational curriculum, focus only on the essential concepts, incorporate self-tutoring learning resources and restructure a evaluative curriculum for students so that even students from rural or remote areas are equally benefited.
Not just education but businesses especially small scale businesses and retailers should now change their perception and get online with a positive vibe. Change is inevitable, Internet has proven itself to be a live tool that helps us connect and transact in these hard times. With availability of low cost mobile devices based on dominant platforms like Android OS, you are show-casing your business via multiple local and global e-commerce platforms to unprecedented number of potential consumers and clients world-wide.