Threading The Needle - Technology and Home Appliances

From an intelligent fridge that can tell you what recipe to make from the ingredients available right ‘very’ now to a smart needle that can help you pick amongst thousands of embroidery designs,

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From an intelligent fridge that can tell you what recipe to make from the ingredients available right ‘very’ now to a smart needle that can help you pick amongst thousands of embroidery designs- technology is bursting at its seams in the world of household genies. Even in the cozy and creative corner of sewing machines! 


Turns out that if Mrs. Harris went to Paris now, there would be no ‘Paris Syndrome’ hitting her (as far as technology is concerned). This space is unfolding step by step and is making sure things don’t get tangled up in unexpected knots. Singer India Limited is a well-known name in the world of sewing machines. Established in 1851, the company has stitched its name neatly in the space of manufacturing and selling sewing machines globally. But what’s next- as the new fabric of technology rolls out – will it be a beautiful interlace or turn into a tatterdemalion? In this chat with Rakesh Khanna, Vice Chairman and MD, Singer India, he unravels the new seam-line between technology and the home appliance business.

170 years! What a legacy! Is it easy to weave in new advancements when you have been around that long?

Our brand has been strong and rich in associations with customers for many decades. From old machines to new, the brand continues to be a leader in this category. We are still in the global ‘numero uno’ league in the manufacture of sewing machines. We are also embracing a digital mindset and adopting new directions – with the help of technology. Be it zig-zag machines or easy-to-function options or electronically-controlled and computerised machines or embroidery machines that let the user choose amongst thousands of designs- our technology direction is quite exciting. There is a huge transformation happening in this category.


Like Live Assist- tell us more about it. And will this feature move towards remote and predictive maintenance as well?

The service, the first of its kind, will provide real-time, virtual, face-to-face support for customers from the comfort of their homes. It helps us set new standards in customer satisfaction by utilizing technology to provide live resolution and demonstration. As we keep transforming, we discover that our customers need a faster pace of help- especially when machines are bought outside the city. So we are now providing this solution where technically trained experts can guide a customer through a video studio- using the same machine the customer had. They can give instructions and tips and also help in problem resolution. This idea was born out of customer insight and executed by our digital mindset. As of now, we are using simple data analytics in our products. As we move towards AI etc., we can make a lot of things proactive and faster. Most products, today, are robust – they do not fail so much. Issues are usually around software and small areas that can be handled with proper and timely guidance.

Digitization should always start in-house before it can go towards the customer. If we have to deal with digitally-savvy customers, then we have to be digitally-savvy ourselves.


How does this help in the sales and support areas?

Singer’s Live Assist is useful, especially for customers located remotely. This service is designed to efficiently address their concerns, providing timely assistance at their convenience. Also, it caters to all new buyers, by providing resolution to queries and giving live online demonstrations of the sewing machine. Additionally, for those requiring further assistance, a complimentary home demonstration is also available upon the purchase of every Singer sewing machine.

How has this solution worked so far? What about interoperability?


It’s been great. We are witnessing faster turnaround times, a fall in costs, a jump in customer satisfaction (due to quality and quick access of interactions) and quick product demos. We aim toward broader compatibility and make sure that our designs can adapt well to many users. Ex: the SE9185 sewing machine uses VP3 format for embroidery design files and we offer the software ‘MySewNet’ that can convert any file format (such as DST, EXP, HUS, JEF, PES, etc.) into VP3.

What are your thoughts on the ‘servitization’ of products? Like how we have started seeing this shift in cars and factory equipment. Are products moving towards services and software for new revenue streams?

Machines are definitely becoming more and more intelligent. We bundle a lot of services with our software. As of now, the advanced tech features we offer are complementary but in future, they can be monetized.


The likes of GE, Samsung etc. are already welding in Gen AI in home appliances like ovens and refrigerators. Will you move that way ahead?

Yes, but not immediately. As of now, we are offering a connected device and a platform. The idea is to make the skill part simpler without intruding on the creativity of the user. AI is catching a lot of buzz and we can think of it not just for our products but for the way we work as well.

With fears like eavesdropping and abuse of data- how can home appliances juggle the thin wire between personalization and data privacy?


It is a huge topic and a global one too. Whether it is a voice assistant or a smart car- we are looking at a big issue. Not much can be done when the data is so large. It is a big debate and a tough balancing act. But governments are coming up with stricter rules and I believe that, over a period of time, society will find solutions to these questions.

Where else do you use technology- before the products, inside the company?

Digitization should always start in-house before it can go to the customer. If we have to deal with digitally-savvy customers, then we have to be digitally-savvy ourselves. For instance- every quarter we have a Townhall with our employees. Similarly, we do regular feedback and all-ear sessions with our dealers and trade partners. All that is not possible without digital support. We also use technology in CRM, predictive inventory planning, supply chain management, e-commerce channels, and communications with customers and so on.


Rakesh Khanna

Vice Chairman and MD, Singer India

By Pratima H