James Bates, Industry Sector Manager at RS Components talked to Ruari McCallion about the challenges ‘new generation’ distributors face and the opportunities they make available to customers and suppliers themselves.
Supplying multichannel OEMs is a challenge because they expect their distributors to have the same global footprint and service provision they make available for their own customers and suppliers.
RS Components is the very model of the 21st Century stockist and it can even hold out some kind of hope for the smaller manufacturer. Its business is the efficient provision of stock supply and service – with the emphasis on ‘efficient’.
“RS Components (RS) is a global distributor of electromechanical, electronic and maintenance products for engineers,” said James Bates, industry sector manager.
“We have a range of around 500,000 items from 2,500 suppliers, as well as our RS Pro range of private label products, which cut across every commodity from electronic components, to tools and PPE.
“The company’s business is primarily focused on the electronic and industrial markets, but its customers are diverse across all sectors from schools and universities, to manufacturing and utilities. It has operating companies in 32 markets across Europe, APAC and Americas, but distributes globally to over 80 counties.”
RS has a vast product range with high service levels, but its online presence goes beyond just a catalogue and ordering facility.
“IOT and connectivity solutions are moving forward quickly. Technology which has been available for some time in the electronics space is now becoming more accessible for our industrial customers.
“RS has both electronics and industrial propositions in our focus, so we are well positioned to join these technologies together to provide new solutions for customers,” said Bates.
E-solutions are also extremely important, these provide customers with a controlled electronic order process for purchasing products and services, delivering an easy, error-free way to transact, taking costs out of ‘the process to pay’.
That is the framework. It’s the way RS Components has embraced the technology and adapted it for its markets and customer needs that is really interesting.
“DesignSpark is an online resource and community for engineers,” he explained. “Our design software is free to download and use and it has a large library of parts with rich product data automatically available.
“DesignSpark is also used by customers to collaborate across industries, exchange ideas to seek and develop mutual support and new solutions.
“Among the market pressures customers face, commodity prices, increasing competition and ongoing pressures on resources give our customers a challenge to be more effective and save money,” said Bates.
“We help customers’ procurement teams to consolidate their spend. Many companies – especially large ones – have fragmented businesses and systems, which presents a real challenge of understanding product needs and demand types.
“RS Components’ e-commerce technology, centralised product databases and tracking functions can help customers gain valuable data insights to provide better visibility of their needs, which help to put in place strategies to reduce costs incurred in product, inventory, sourcing and order process.
“We can quickly centralise multiple sets of data and present information in a clear and meaningful way through tailored insight,” Bates explained, meaning customers are presented with many opportunities to capitalise on it.
“Customers can analyse and interpret the data we present for them to use in various ways to improve their performance,” he continued. “They can move purchases to more efficient processes, identify inventory to be reduced or removed, seek to better understand suppliers’ ability to meet their needs and create strategies to pro-actively manage obsolescence or standardisation of OEM products.”
They can also see more clearly how much they are buying, globally, from particular manufacturers and those manufacturers have an improved understanding of how end users are using their products. And it is not just for world-spanning organisations.
“Our offer is about a great choice of products with highly efficient and effective e-centric services,” said Bates. “We have been very successful in understanding our supplier’s new solution capabilities and making the relevant connections to customers that can realise the value from them.”
It’s not just for world-spanning organisations. “Our eSolutions and supplier’s technical services can really add value to Large, SME and individual customers.”