Keeping the customer’s requirement at the centre and providing flexible purchase options are what bigger players in the component distribution game seem to put maximum focus on. Navin Honnavar, senior marketing manager-South Asia, element14, a leading electronics component distributor, explains to Baishakhi Dutta of Electronicsforu.com their flexible purchase models and their plans ahead.
Q. What’s unique about your team (or firm) that’s beneficial for customers to do business with you?
Today’s customers need the best of both worlds: to work with broadline companies offering scale, size and global reach, while still having access to specialized capabilities for support through all stages of the product life cycle.
We provide customers with specialized capabilities that they need as they bring products to market and through all stages of the product life cycle; alongside the scale, size and the global reach of a broad line business when their needs grow. We also provide customers with technical support and add-on services such as ‘maker to market’ and specialised design kits to accelerate their designs. For suppliers we offer award winning marketing support for their products and access to a very wide range of customers from diverse industries.
Being part of the Avnet ecosystem also allows us to support customers in a unique way. By monitoring buyer patterns, we can identify when customers are moving into the next phase of their journey and introduce them to our group business which can support them as they grow further. This means that customers no longer have to identify, review and on-board a new partner at every phase of production. This reduces the time, costs and complexity of bringing products to market.
Q. What’s your strategy w.r.t. keeping ready stock of in-demand products for your customers?
Over the last two years element14 has invested significantly in stock and added over 40 new suppliers to both broaden and deepen its product range. We know that it is important for our customers to access products quickly. If they are in the middle of a design, they don’t want to wait weeks for an alternative part to try. Also we focus on bringing the latest products from suppliers first for our customers. This helps them bring to life designs with latest products .
Q. Do you cater to startups who may not have orders matching your MoQs? If yes, how do you handle them?
We work with startups across the globe to support them as they bring their designs to market. One great example is India-based Graspio, who we worked with to optimise their design and bring to market. We are focussed on design engineers working in all sizes of business and do not ask for minimum order quantities, meaning that customers can access small quantities to include in their designs, quickly.
Since there is no requirement for MoQ’s or minimum order value, customers can order what they want without relying on samples.
Q. In which all cities do you have offices? How do you cater to/service customers who are located outside the cities your offices are in?
We are having offices in Bangalore which is our India HQ followed by offices in Hyderabad, Chennai and Coimbatore in the South, New Delhi in the North and Kolkata in the East and Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad in the West.
Also we have a telesales team and 24*5 tech support with online live chat to support our customers. Our website offers rich technical content, complete product details and descriptions, datasheets and 3D images making it simple for our customers to order with ease.
Q. Do you have a team to help customers in designing their products?
We have a technical support team based in India available 24*5 who work with customers to support them with their technical queries. For customers looking for a great level of support, we have design services which can be accessed and have design engineers working in the United States and China who can work closely with customers as they develop their designs.
Q. What are the top 3 qualities you would advise to customers while choosing the right sourcing partner?
The customers should only buy products from authorised distributors who offer traceability. Other criteria would be to choose sourcing partners who have local presence and support during the local time zones, and of course who can support the local rupee pricing and help deliver the products at your doorsteps clearing customs so that it makes it easy to order.
Q. How do you see the role of Online Sales affecting Components Distribution business?
One of the main benefits of online distribution is that they are able to promote solutions from multiple suppliers, giving customers a choice to compare and contrast the relative benefits and features of different suppliers. We see a growing proportion of business coming through online sales, and in order to support customers in their purchases, distributors need to change the type of information included on their websites to better inform the customers to enable them to do research and make decisions.
Earlier, an online product page used to have a simple title, some basic specifications and a datasheet, but users now expect to see much more than that. They need richer basic information (enhanced title, multiple high-res images, features and benefits text), advanced content (360” images, product videos, CAD models) and user-generated content (user and expert product reviews, community/social info). As a result, distributors have to work harder on collecting, creating and serving-up this info.
Q. How has been the growth of your organisation in the last financial year?
Market conditions during the second half of the fiscal year 2019 (end June 2018 to end June 2019) contributed to a flat global revenue performance for Farnell (element14’s parent company) at $1.5 billion, albeit alongside year-over-year growth in operating income and operating margin.
The previous fiscal year had seen a strong performance with global revenue of $1.5 billion up +11.1 per cent year-over-year (+6.5 per cent year-over-year on a constant currency basis) and consecutive year-on-year growth each quarter in Asia-Pacific).
Q. What is your core ideology behind your business objective?
We believe in offering a differentiated customer service. We keep the customer in the centre of everything we do. This has led us to develop a model, which ensures that customers can order products from global inventory and it gets delivered to his doorstep, at a click of a button.
Q. What latest business strategies have you taken in the last financial year to improve engagement with your customers?
We have continued to invest in improving the customer experience and overall value proposition that we bring to the market. We now hold more stock than ever before across our global distribution network, providing customers with access to components as they need them; and the addition of 20 new supplier franchises during the year including significant additions such as Renesas, meaning that customers can continue to rely on Farnell for the latest technologies to further their design journeys and bring their products to market.
Q. What are your key focus areas for the next financial year?
We are focused on:
Newer IoT based development kits to enable customers to design the latest in-demand products.
Offer more range of interconnect and eMech products, given the thrust of the industry and the government on local manufacturing
Expand our Test and Measurement range to ensure we have the latest products for T&M in stock every time.
Q. How can the government further contribute to driving electronics manufacturing domestically in India?
Given the scenario of the trade war between China and the US, India must take a lead to develop more local manufacturing. GST was the first step in that direction. But larger policy decisions to push electronic manufacturing must be supported. India has the potential to be a global leader in Space and Defence, Industrial Automation and newer technologies like IOT, AI and Machine learning. But this can only happen if the government and the industry works in tandem to scout and seize the opportunity currently which the market has to offer.