With every passing day, we are witnessing more and more players joining the bandwagon of online sales. So why is online sales gradually becoming the most preferred business model? Atul Dumbre, director of Macfos Private Limited, in an interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of the Electronicsforu.com Network, shares how online sales is becoming profitable for businesses. Excerpts follow…
EB: What are the latest hardware and software upgrades in IoT kits?
IoT kits nowadays are becoming more powerful due to the increased capacity of the onboard processor. More and more sensors are being added on board to gather information at the source. There are a lot of devices coming in to market with software dedicated to them. Hence, now people can use a combination of hardware and software in one single package to get the desired results. This is making life easier for end customers since it’s becoming a plug-and-play type of ecosystem for IoT.
EB: What kind of industrial products do you offer?
Basically, we are an online retail store for robotics. We offer microcontroller boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. We also offer a variety of sensors like lidars, encoders, ultrasonic sensors, DC motors and motor controllers, lithium batteries and chargers, basic tools and cables.
EB: What is the difference between players importing components and buying them from you?
We provide all the components required for a system, that too, as ready-to-ship stock and without any minimum order quantity. This saves valuable time and effort for our customers. They don’t have to run around for small things or fight with vendors when delivery periods get extended.
EB: What economic benefits do your customers gain by using your products?
The benefits are a combination of affordable prices, good quality material, and quick delivery. Everyone claims to be cheap. We claim to be affordable since we provide our customers with affordable prices for good quality material. Time is very important, and so we ship components on the same day after the order is placed and get it delivered pan-India within three days. This helps the customer save a lot of money.
EB: Do you have tie-ups with businesses for bulk orders?
Yes. Apart from our online sales, we do have a dedicated offline sales team that supports customers not only for bulk discounts, but also to understand their requirements and help them in selecting the right solution, based on their need.
EB: How has your online platform helped your business?
Our online platform robu.in has played the role of an anchor, establishing us in the Indian market. It provides a brand identity for us and eases the process of ordering, for customers. It has also given us a broad reach all over the India market, very quickly.
EB: How do you ensure consistent access to your customers?
We are fortunate enough to have both online and offline teams. The offline teams work to find customers by visiting or calling them, and so on. While the online team uses the digital route to do the same thing—through Google and various social media platforms. We also run mailers and send SMSs to our customers to keep in touch with them.
EB: What quality control measures have you adopted to verify the authenticity of a product you are selling?
Authenticity is critical, especially today when there are a lot of copied products in the market. The only way to ensure authenticity is by having a trustworthy supply chain.
There are also quality checks done for all the batches that we receive. And finally, we take our customers’ feedback very seriously and do not hesitate to remove entire batches from our inventory, if needed.
EB: Do you have your own products and production unit?
We are designing and producing our own series of boards under the Smartelex brand name. Currently, we have 32 boards catering to solutions in the motor driver, GSM/GPS/GPRS shields and IoT domains. We intend to develop solutions for customers that are not available off the shelf anywhere. This gives us total control and capability to change the design for our customers, based on their requirements.
EB: Do you think traditional businesses can’t stay relevant in the online era unless they have a digital presence too?
I think that depends on customer behaviour. Are customers searching online for their needs today? Are they buying online? We all know it’s a ‘Yes,’ to both these questions.
So, sooner or later, all businesses will have to adopt online sales to survive in the market. It will take some time for traditional businesses to go through this transition, so they should start as early as possible. I often talk to people running traditional businesses and they are afraid to adopt online sales. There is nothing to be afraid of. One can start taking small steps like getting your basic website built before starting to market online. Slowly and steadily, when the results are seen, more and more offline players will start entering the game.
EB: Which are your highest selling product categories and brands?
These vary from time to time. Right now I would say Smartelex products, Raspberry Pi boards, and lithium batteries are the top three products in demand.
EB: Do you think there is a dearth of Made in India electronic kits in the market? How could this be increased?
The lack of Made in India electronic kits is definitely an issue. We can increase this by coming out with innovative products that stand above the competition. Next, those kits need to be marketed, in depth, on a pan-India basis.
People say you can’t beat the Chinese on cost. I say, we can beat them in smartness. Raspberry Pi and Arduino are two big examples of this.
EB: How do you see IoT influencing the architecture of electronic kits?
IoT has already influenced it. It has become almost mandatory to have the option of Wi-Fi connectivity in any standard kit so that it can be used in IoT projects. Going forward, in the future, this will become a standard in all electronic kits.