Channel Partners Should Focus on New Markets and Solutions Selling For Better ROI – Chirag Agarwal, Branch Head, RP tech India
What has been the impact of the ongoing agitation by one of the IT associations in the overall IT and Mobile business in north India?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: The traditional channel has played a vital role in fulfilling the technology requirements of Indian consumers for decades. Be it technology, products, pricing or commissioning of products; the channel has been pivotal in developing the market and servicing. Now with the entry of E-commerce, the survival and growth have become a bit tough for the offline channel.
As the online giants sell products at incredibly deep discounts than channel buying, it has become difficult for offline players to sustain in the industry. The ongoing agitation aims to curb the deep discounting practices by OLS and provide a level playing field for offline channel partners. The agitation has impacted the business to some extent resulting in short-term revenue loss of partners as they have halted buying. But we are optimistic for a positive outcome for the betterment of the industry.
How will you address the concerns of the traditional channel about the deep discounting practices of online marketplaces, especially during the festive season?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: The traditional channel is frustrated with the deep discounting by E-Commerce. Channel partners are small business owners and cannot compete with online giants on pricing. Therefore, there should be a balance between the pricing in both the marketplaces.
Secondly, it is time for partners to come out of mere box pushing business and offer real value-add services for better ROI and customer loyalty. It is very necessary for the offline channel to evolve and adapt to the changing business dynamics in order to sail through the waves of the transition.
According to you what are the key challenges faced by the traditional channel? How do they need to evolve in their business in order to sustain in the fierce competition from LFRs and E-Commerce?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: The traditional channel has closely witnessed the evolution of the IT industry in India and has gone through many phases. Today the key challenge for them is the cost of doing business versus online pricing. If they try to match the prices then their survival comes at stake and if they do not, it is a potential customer loss. So they are in trouble in both the situations. As I said earlier, the traditional channel should start focusing more on solutions, increase their basket of offerings to consumers, focus on new markets such as corporates and gifting and explore innovative ways of sales and marketing.
In a scenario of shrinking PC demand, how did you see the growth of Components, Peripherals and Accessories business in the country? Where does RP tech India stand in this play?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: It is a fact that PC demand is shrinking but there is still enough space for everyone. There are many factors affecting the PC business but we need to understand that there is no replacement for computing systems. In RP tech India, we have many business verticals such as Components, Peripherals, PCD, Networking, Mobility and Enterprise. Our brands’ portfolio is enriched with over 23 world-renowned vendors. We are equally focusing on each and every vertical and offering the best in class technology to the masses. Our goal is to become a “One Stop Shop” for all technology needs of end users.
What are the fastest growing product categories within the IT hardware segment and which product segments are slow moving and why?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: PCs and Notebooks are the fastest growing categories within IT hardware business. Components business is moving a bit slow due to factors such as shortage of product category. Secondly, brands are really aggressive and the price advantage of DIY over branded has shrunk.
How do you plan to penetrate into the interiors of the region making the seamless availability of products to the last mile of end users?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: RP tech India has 50 branches and 50 service centres spread across 750+ towns/cities. We have a city-based approach and we make sure that we reach out every city in the country. We have a lot of marketing programs to educate and reach to the last mile of the market.
Please highlight the key strengths of RP tech India in terms of channel ecosystem, reach and brand portfolio which sets it apart in the competition?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: RP tech India is recognized as one of the most channel-friendly company. We conduct a lot of activities and programs for partners. Our transparency, honesty and accessibility are our strongest strengths. We have a great balance in brand portfolio, hence, we are growing at a consistent 25% CAGR YoY despite market volatility. We are highly focused and keeps tracking the growth in each and every category. At the same time, we are very big on channel education and training.
What are your key focus areas and expansion plans in the FY 2019?
Mr Chirag Agarwal: Our key focus area for the next financial year is to strengthen the brands that we have and acquire more brands for distribution. At the same time, we will expand our horizons and reach out to more unexplored upcountry markets.