Online sales in the component distribution business has emerged as a threat to many traditional offline businesses. As a result, many of these businesses are entering the digital world to enhance sales. Is it a case of, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them?’ Or is there something more to this than meets the eye? In an interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of the Electronicsforu.com Network, Amit Kulshrestha, director of IIE Semiconductors Pvt Ltd, shares how the company plans to balance its traditional business model with the online world of component distribution.
EB: What unique benefit does your team (or firm) offer customers?
We have a dedicated team for sales as well as FAE and customer support, working efficiently to book all the orders. The teams work closely with all our customers and suggest cost-effective solutions best suited for them. We support our customers right from the initial ideation phase, so that we can help them to turn their ideas into reality.
EB: What’s your strategy w.r.t. stocking in-demand products for your customers?
It’s always beneficial to keep a stock of the goods that are in demand as nowadays the delivery time of goods has increased. Having goods in stock can help customers plan production as per their needs. This is true not only for their regular products but also for new designs. They can plan on certain designs only when they know the availability is instant. We mostly stock the regularly used items, based on the projections given by our customers.
EB: Do you cater to startups that may not have orders matching your MOQs (minimum order quantities)?
Yes, we do. We never force our customers or startups to buy the minimum order quantity. We have suppliers who help us in supporting even small quantities. We always treat all our customers equally, whether it’s a startup or a well-established company.
EB: In which cities do you have offices? What is the overall spread of your customers?
We have only one office in Faridabad at present. But in the near future, we have plans to open offices in each metropolitan city. We serve all our Indian customers from Faridabad itself.
Currently, we have around 200 customers in India who are in the medical, defence, automation, telecommunication and LED lighting domains. Our sales personnel keep visiting them regularly to stay up-to-date with their upcoming projects and requirements.
EB: Do you provide samples to customers who may want to try these out in their designs? How do you enable this?
We support customers who are in the design or prototype phase. We provide paid as well as free samples as per our business dealings with the customers. We generally get the samples directly from the manufacturer, or we support them by purchasing these from a few online portals.
EB: Do you have a team to help customers in designing their products?
We have field application engineers-cum-techno-commercial people who help our customers in the initial design stages. They suggest components from our portfolio that are cost-effective and are available within very short lead times.
EB: What are the top three qualities you believe customers should look for while choosing a sourcing partner?
The top three qualities would be:
The sourcing partner should be reliable in terms of quality and delivery.
The partner should have enough knowledge to understand customer needs and not just supply the components.
They should be able to suggest cost-effective and better replacement options.
EB: Do you feel online sales is adversely affecting the component distribution business? Have you started tapping this segment too?
It is true that online sales has entered this segment. But for customers, there is a concern about getting fake components from online sources. It’s quite difficult to know whether the parts are genuine or not. We aim to get into online sales soon, apart from doing traditional sales. At present, we are supplying components to a few online portals and they are happy with our services.
EB: How do you plan to ensure the authenticity of the products that you provide online? Are there any specific quality control measures you follow?
Whatever material we supply is from trusted sources that meet our strict quality standards. This material comes in the original manufacturers’ packing and is 100 per cent traceable. We always provide our customers with the COC (certificate of conformance) because, for us, quality always comes first.
EB: How has your organisation grown in the last two years? And what are your expectations for this financial year?
The results of the last two years show tremendous growth, much beyond our expectations. In the coming financial year, we aim to keep up this momentum.
EB: What’s your leadership style? What are the best management practices that you’ve adopted?
I always believe in giving a free hand to all my employees so that they can think out-of-the-box. Since the day I started this business, I have tried to create an environment in which one can work freely, without stress. The best practice that I have adopted is to have one-to-one interactions with all my employees and, most importantly, treat them as family.
EB: Are there any major initiatives taken in the last financial year that you’d like to share with our readers?
Since last year, we have started adding more products to our line card, which has a lot of variety, enabling customers to find all possible requirements under one roof. We have also started recommending pin to pin replacements for our customers’ parts, which come with better features and at competitive prices.
EB: What are your key focus areas for the next financial year?
Well, we aim to gather more and more customers in this domain. We also intend to work closely on alternative power sources along with new technologies.
EB: Any views on current government policies related to GST and electronics manufacturing?
The implementation of the GST has had a tremendous impact on how we do business. It has simplified the entire tax structure. I personally would like to thank the government for implementing this.
EB: Do you also sell in any country other than India?
No, we do not sell in any other country at present, and going forward too, we do not have any plans for this.