We intend to have over 200 Fulfillment Centres across the country: Vivek Tiwari, Founder & CEO, Medikabazaar
In an interview with BW Disrupt, Vivek Tiwari, Founder & CEO, Medikabazaar, talks about future plans, products launched, challenges faced during the pandemic and more.
1. How were the sales for the company affected during lockdown due to the pandemic. Have you witnessed any major shifts from then until now?
We have done good sales despite of all the challenges related to crippling of supply-chain or sharp reduction in footfalls in hospitals and clinics in the last two quarters. thriving. We are extremely fortunate to be able to serve the community and grow our business at the same time, and at a time when people and businesses are struggling to do either, leave alone both. Sales are off the charts; we covered last financial year’s entire business in a few months this year. We have been hiring in the strategic team, the key accounts, sales, operations, logistics. Any and all major shifts have been favourable to us. We do not in any way or form take pleasure in the massive suffering and damage this pandemic has caused, but we have been fortunate to have been on the right side of things
From industry standpoint, during early stages of lockdown there was a huge demand for COVID products and that’s what made a large portion of sales in March to May period. In last few months, the demand for regular medical products has started coming back as Hospitals have reopened, OPD footfalls are coming back and eclectic surgeries also getting back to pre-CoVID levels.
Contrary to general understanding, COVID has financially impacted medical care sector as well. Lot of hospitals, especially which were not into COVID care got closed down, many have been struggling to pay salaries.
While things have changed a lot in last few weeks, but the number of patients visiting hospitals is still low as people have been avoiding going to hospitals due to infection risk.
However, it seems that the country has now come to terms with the fact that we would have to carry on our normal lives and this is showing up in a sense of normalcy in the footfalls.
On positive side, the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of our healthcare infrastructure and now there is tremendous focus of all stakeholders including government to ramp up infra and enhance spends in healthcare sector
2. Talk us through the products launched by Medikabazaar to fight the pandemic
Apart from all the COVID essentials made available, we made many partnerships in the lockdown as well, some of them exclusive. Some of the prominent ones are listed below. You can find them all on our website
- COVID Care Private Labelled products – We launched our own line of Masks & PPE Kits. We also launched top quality range of scanning and dispensing products in collaboration with Wipro - MedScan and MedSmart. MedScan is an IR thermometer-cum-hand sanitizer and MedSmart is the more premium version, a smart device based on AI capabilities for contact-free attendance management, complete with face recognition, live tracking, central dashboard and other customizable options.
- With Xerox, for their GO2VENT Ventilator and Airway Pressure Monitor (APM-Plus), life-saving equipment for hospitals and emergency response units fighting against COVID-19. Go2Vents are FDA certified hands-free, disposable emergency ventilator that require no battery, electricity or manual intervention to work
- With PuraShield, for their patented air purifiers for indoor spaces, with different units especially designed for cars, homes, workspaces, and the like
- With Roche, for their best-in-class diagnostic products and test solutions
- With United Imaging Healthcare, for world-class diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy solutions
- Shycocan is our latest offering. It is an Indian made device which cuts off the spike protein present in the novel coronavirus by releasing trillions of electrons per second, making it amazingly wanted product in today’s gradual unlock scenario where social distancing norms are often bypassed.
3. With regards to the severe impacts that the Health-Tech sector has faced during the pandemic, what do you think will be their road to recovery post the pandemic?
Focus on healthcare will increase nationally and globally, so that is the first telling sign that quality of healthcare will improve. Governments will increase their budget allocation, ease policies allowing for new ecosystems to be formed within, or perhaps overhauling, the existing ecosystem.
Now is the time that health-tech can actually contribute and thrive, give that it passes the survival test of the pandemic and emerges fresh in the new normal world. Digital frontiers will be the key to recover post pandemic even as organizations are already looking at ways to use technologies like tele-calling and data aggregation and sharing for example, to eradicate barriers in patient care. Private and public institutions must collaborate at the table and discuss what health strategies are going to be most effective going forward. New innovations will drive health-tech and boost recovery post pandemic, and we should expect many of those to happen soon.
4. What are your views about the numerous E-health start-ups that have risen amidst the pandemic and are aggressively reaching out for smaller cities and towns.
It is always good for the industry to widen its horizons by allowing new and healthy competition to enter. It is not surprising to see many e-health start-ups due to the reasons mentioned above (digital is the way), and with the increased digitization of rural areas your average rural household is very likely to possess a smartphone, it is a win-win situation for both sides.
5. What can be said about the future plans for the company?
Ambitious, and rightly so. Our team is increasing, and so are our bases. We are planning to double our warehousing capacities by end of this year. We intend to have over 200 Fulfillment Centres across the country to ensure that we are able to supply medical products even to tier3/4 towns and beyond within 24 to 48 hours. We are already establishing a brand recall, but we would like to be known outside the industry circle too, as a pioneer and still the leading medical supplies aggregator in India. Our first international office is up in the Middle East soon, the first stride to international presence. Creating a robust supply chain infrastructure to penetrate even deeper in the rural markets, creating a knowledge database for our niche, delivering new solutions through innovations, like VIZI, our smart inventory management system, one stop procurement solution VPO, and drone delivery of medical supplies – all of these are on the agenda.
6. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
As we are a B2B platform, till the time all hospitals don’t reopen and patients don’t start coming to hospitals as earlier, the routine medical supplies would be hit. And of course, with the unlock process moving gradually, there are still minor issues on movement of man and materials. Delivery timelines, though have eased drastically, but continue to be a challenge from desired level perspective, ranging from region to region. Digital campaigns took hits at regular intervals, due to usage of words like ‘COVID’ for example, whereas we are the ones who must talk about it, and provide the right supplies. After the initial lapse of managing work from home, we are progressing quite smoothly. We aim to position Medikabazaar firmly in the industry with right, consistent marketing communications. Overall, the challenges have been present and manageable.
7. What is the market size and opportunity post COVID?
India being under penetrated country with lower spends, low bed and doctor ratio, I believe the Indian Healthcare Market would soon be touching USD Billion mark. Lot of investments would go in increasing the capacity to treat and higher percentage of beds in ICUs and ICCUs so that we are better prepared next time to handle any major epidemic outbreak without needing to lockdown everything crippling down the economy once again. The investments in ramping up healthcare infra are far too lower than the cost of economic devastation that an epidemic can bring upon on livelihoods of people and economy as a whole.
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