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NEW DELHI : The sale of electronic goods, particularly smartphones, laptops, tablets, and WiFi dongles have started picking up sharply, following the relaxation of the lockdown put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in response to pent up demand and the need for digital processes for work and education.

Most of the demand is being served by online channels as many physical stores are still not open or are working with limited capacity.

Several new smartphones, including Xiaomi’s Mi10, One Plus 8, and Realme’s Narzo series were listed for sale on e-commerce stores. Realme sold 70,000 units of its Narzo 10 smartphone within three minutes. The OnePlus 8 (5G) sold out within minutes of going live through an early access sale on Amazon.in on 18 May.

“The demand for smartphones and accessories has been scaling up since we restarted sale in India on 3 May. When we launched the new Narzo series last week, and held its first sale on 18 May, we were able to sell 70,000 units in less than three minutes," Realme said.

“In India, 12 to 13 million smartphones are sold every month. There was no sale in April because of the lockdown. Our estimate shows that there are still 4 to 5 million people looking for new phones. These are people who could not get new phones because of the lockdown, though the phones that they had been using had got damaged," said Faisal Kawoosa, chief analyst and founder, techARC.

“Initially, there will be a spike to fulfil the previous demand. It will soon slow and then flatten out," said Kawoosa.

Many phone manufacturers have started online-to-offline (O2O) platforms to help retailers sell phones using online models. However, lack of awareness about them is still a major challenge for many of the platforms.

“Response to O2O platforms such as Benow isn’t that great as people are not aware of them. Those who know us call us directly and pick up products," said Manish Khatri, partner at Mumbai based retailer Mahesh Telecom.

Over the last two days boAt lifestyle, an audio company, has sold 2 to 2.5 times more products than they sell on normal days.

The company was selling about 8-10k units in a single day before lockdown.

Aman Gupta, co-founder, boAt lifestyle, feels this is because there was a pent up demand because of the lockdown and also as their products were listed as work from home essentials by Amazon.in.

He expects demand to remain strong for a few days, but then it will depend on how offline channels perform.

With remote working and learning becoming the new normal, demand for laptops and tablets is also gathering momentum. On Amazon.in, laptops, tablets, headphones and wearables are among the most searched categories. PC companies Acer and HP have witnessed an increase in demand for laptops both from enterprise and consumers.

This trend was corroborated by demand coming from e-commerce platforms, points out Vickram Bedi, senior director, Personal Systems, HP Inc. India, adding, "enterprises are looking at significant portions of their workforce logging in remotely hence they are looking at notebooks and related accessories. We are also seeing initial trends of increased adoption of PCs among students, as schools have moved to online classes."

"What was before a shared device (laptops), is now becoming a personal device with each household feeling the need to have two or more laptops as smartphones hit the ceiling in terms of capability," said Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and consumer business head, Acer India.

Khatri too has seen higher demand for laptops, mid-range tablets, and WiFi dongles as many users who didn’t have fixed broadband were dependent on smartphone hotspot. However, supply is short for these products except for the laptops.

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