The biggest challenge Indian businesses will face is business continuity as several industries reel under the effects of a disrupted sourcing and supply chain, according to a study by Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt Ltd, which found those who held off purchases do so no longer due to cash flow issues observed in the earlier months, but rather because they can’t find the right suppliers.

A market survey of more than 1,000 professionals from across India was conducted in June and September this year to examine the shifting business climate and the state of mind of the most senior buyers at Messe Frankfurt India (MFI) trade fairs during this period.

The key objective of the ‘Senior Management Survey’ was to gauge the business and purchase behaviour amidst the pandemic that has affected businesses of MFI stakeholders.

The study covered sectors including automotive, textiles, building technologies and consumer goods, showing that 88 per cent respondents relied on exhibitions to help them with their purchase decisions.

Over 90 per cent respondents affirmed that trade fairs allow them to touch and feel the product as well as to build a relationship with the seller, which are key factors for making effective purchasing decisions, MFI said in a press release.

While there has been a strong shift with regards to the purchasing behaviour from June (53 per cent) to September (63 per cent) with a rise of 10 per cent in purchasing activity, most buyers cannot find the right suppliers while others cannot find stocks (12.97 per cent), cannot import (13.81 per cent), as per company policies (20.08 per cent), or would like to wait for exhibitions (24.27 per cent).

Even as other sourcing alternatives like online events, webinar and WhatsApp are picking up, 59 per cent buyers are finding it difficult to make purchasing decisions during COVID-19.

As purchasing activity has increased across the board, willingness to attend exhibitions also saw an increase with respondents looking at visiting the next exhibition ‘as soon as possible’ registering the highest increase of 10 percentage points.

While only 16 per cent respondents attended online exhibitions in June 2020, this trend has quickly shifted to 29 per cent in September 2020 showcasing that hybrid exhibitions will play a vital role in future.