More and more interaction with component distributors are clearly stating 2 facets of doing business in this domain – having the right inventory to boost up the business alongside choosing the right sourcing partner to stay competitive. PSS Suppiah, director of Supreme Components International Pte. Ltd, a franchised distributor of high-tech electronic and LED components headquartered in Singapore, in an interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of the Electronicsforu.com Network unveils how the company is no exception in strategizing their business plan. Excerpts follow…
Q. What’s unique about your team (or firm) that’s beneficial for customers to do business with you?
Our mantra is that we are obsessed about adding value at the speed of thought for our customers and suppliers. This is followed by all our offices worldwide. Our competitors are big multinationals and take a much longer time to make decisions. We can quote almost instantaneously to our customers. SCI is equipped with all the back-office facilities to quote to the customers at the ‘first connect’.
Q. What’s your strategy w.r.t. keeping ready stock of in-demand products for your customers?
We get engaged with strategic customers on ‘just in time delivery’ system. We have a local warehouse in Bangalore to buffer the stock. We support VMI (vendor managed inventory) Programs and this is popular among our customers. We also support NPI (new product introduction) with stocks. We have multiple worldwide channel partners to support us in this.
Q. Do you cater to startups who may not have orders matching your MoQs? If yes, how do you handle them?
Being a franchised distributor for more than 90 brands, creating new sockets is one of our key roles. We support new designs by giving free samples and engineering support. When quantity is small, we import along with our consolidated shipments to our Bangalore warehouse and local support to the customers. So, customers need not worry about import-export license and hassles of customs clearing requirements. Generally, we avoid imposing MOQ requirements on customers, which includes start-ups as well.
While dealing with startups. we take small quantity orders. The quantity can be much lesser than the MOQ. Customers can pay us in INR.
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 have 3 offices in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. Customers who are out of these cities are supported by our inside sales team. They are contacted and supported by email, phone, Skype, WhatsApp and other online messengers. Our customers are spread across North, South and Western India.
Q. What’s your strategy w.r.t. providing samples to customers who may want to try them out in their designs?
We provide FOC samples and free engineering and technical support. We hold the customer’s hand until the design is completed and moves to production. (Design In => Design Win, Production win)
Q. Do you have a team to help customers in designing their products? If yes, what role does this team play in building relationships with customers?
We have a dedicated FAE team to support the customers. All our sales teams are engineers or degree holders so that they can support customers technically. The sales team can propose equivalents from same or other brands in order to meet the customers delivery requirement and price targets.
On the other hand, the FAE team will understand the customers design targets, propose suitable samples for it and provide technical advise in selection.
Q. What are the top 3 qualities you would advise to customers while choosing the right sourcing partner?
1) Prompt, flexible and responsive
2) Fully traceable genuine parts. Must be able to provide failure analysis, 8D reports etc when there is a problem in the parts on an immediate basis
3) Product liability and cybersecurity insurance must be in place
These factors play a very crucial role in selecting the right partner.
Q. How do you see the role of Online Sales affecting Components Distribution business? Have you started tapping this segment too?
Online sourcing is a very good growing market segment. Designers and hobbyists are using this segment in a big way. With the availability of easy to use development kits, there are many enthusiasts developing new products for many more applications now.
We will be launching our own e-commerce portal in 6 months’ time through which we will support designers and high mix low volume business.
As far as traditional sales is concerned, we will support for high volume business, which will also involve supply chain management, inventory management, just in time delivery etc. We believe that traditional component distribution businesses in on the way to maturity and most of them have moved to or in the process of moving to online business for them to be relevant.
Q. How has been the growth of your organisation in the last 2 years? And, how do you see it for this financial year?
We have doubled our revenue and bottom line in the last 2 years. We are projecting a similar growth for at least the next 5 years. We are investing a lot in our India operations and strengthening our market presence.
Our India investment includes, opening up online business channel, opening a new office. It also includes increasing the head count in each office, followed by broadening our product line offerings, especially in cutting edge technologies like IOT and AI.
Q. What’s your leadership style? What’re the best management practices that you’ve adopted?
Empowerment is given a lot of focus within the organization and employees are constantly encouraged to assume more ownership and responsibility for their actions. The organizational culture is established in such a way that entrepreneurial qualities are inculcated within each of them. The mindset of each individual is that of an intrapreneur which provides them the space to showcase their entrepreneurial nous while still contributing towards the growth of the organization.
As such, a blend of transformational and transactional leadership style is adopted by me. Transformational leadership traits are useful keeping the long-term goals in mind where employees are encouraged and motivated to come up with creative working solutions and create changes that will help mold the success of the firm in the future. In the short-term, compliance is achieved through a system of rewards which can help keep them motivated for shorter intervals. I believe in “lead by example”, so I make sure that I practice what I preach. This aligns the team to the company values.
Q. Any major initiatives were taken in the last financial year that you’d like to share with our audience?
1) We have expanded our physical reach in 4 countries, ie, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines last year. This has been recognised by the government of Singapore and we were awarded “Singapore international 100”
2) We have expanded our product ranges from 65 to 90 brands within one year
3) We also invested in strengthening the senior management team.
Q. What are your key focus areas (max 3 new initiatives) for the next financial year?
- Investing in new technology areas like electric vehicles, IoT, Industry 4.0. We have customised our IoT street light solution by having the manufacturer visit India and look at the actual conditions in India and customised the solution to Indian condition. The solution based on this has about 2000 intelligent street lights installed in India.
Expand our product offerings in LED lighting and components for the electronics equipment space
Strengthen our Thailand and Vietnam team
Q. Any views on current government policies related to import-export, GST and electronics manufacturing?
The overall environment created by the government should be greatly appreciated. With the implementation of GST, it is more transparent and efficient.
However, customs clearance and documentation continue to be a major challenge. The electronics industry relies on imports for raw materials. Hence, improvement in customs clearance with better infrastructure facilities will greatly develop the electronics market in India.