AG Profile photo 2015 (1) Interview

Ingram Micro Adds Value in the distribution chain: From Partners to End Users


Ingram Micro India Pvt Ltd (IMIPL) is a subsidiary of Ingram Micro Inc, USA. Established in 1979 and based out of Mumbai, Ingram IndiaAG Profile photo 2015 (1) today is one of the top IT distribution companies in India with nationwide presence at nearly 40+ locations. In an interaction with Mobility magazine, Mr Atul Gaur, Executive Managing Director, Mobility India, Ingram Micro India, shares their company’s perspective and views about the rapidly growing mobility market in India.

 

Atul comments, “Today, India is the 2nd largest market for mobile phones and the numbers are going to increase further offering a wide range of opportunities for the providers as well as channel partners. Ingram is a very channel-focused organization. If channel is content and grows, we will also grow. We being distributors are a B2B bridge between our two channel verticals: the vendors and the supply chain partners below. We represent many top brands in the mobility industry. As a Value-Added Distributor, we do business through adding value in the form of ensuring better product availability, sorting out customer service issues and understanding the needs of the channel partners through transparent and efficient management. We use the most effective apps to connect with the partners and customers, and our partner-support system is among the best in the industry that allows prompt and efficient communication and resolution of issues.”

 

Ingram Micro Inc, USA (the parent organization of Ingram India) is one of the world’s largest technology distributors providing sales, marketing and logistics services for the IT industry, including telecom industry products, worldwide. Ranked No. 62 in the 2015 Fortune 500 globally, Ingram operates in 160 countries with approximately 200,000 partners worldwide, including retailers and IT resellers.

 

Regarding Ingram India’s present focus vis-à-vis the latest market trends in India in the Mobility industry, Atul states, “Mobility today is a Ingram_Micro_logo.svgvery fast growing segment. We distribute for many prominent brands, both Indian and MNC. For the last couple of years, we have been concentrating a lot on providing services to the mobile segment users. We are the largest broad based distribution house .While dealing with logistics, we effectively close the gaps even which vendors could not cover or reach. Similarly, we make available spare parts and services, where the original providers find difficult to percolate. Recently we started repairing and refurbishing mobile phones. Today, due to competition margins are coming down. Only those vendors and distributors, who can provide extra value can survive in the market. So we are focusing more on expanding our after-sales-service and other value added services operations. In most cases, supporting entertainment, Premium Anti Virus suite and free insurance cover is an initiative from our side, independent of the vendor. We have the brand by the name “COVER PLUS” from Ingram Micro under whose umbrella we have many such services. We even acquired a trade in and insurance company abroad for similar purpose. We have the most effective and customer-centric insurance support policies. Today, even online retailers want tie-ups with us for providing services. Vendors are recognizing the importance of insurance and started providing free insurance-cover on some of their models. While offering COVER PLUS services, our retailers give both options to the customers where the customers can take the product without insurance or with free insurance and other value added services for a small additional price.”

Distributors who want to remain successfully on top in the industry need to have wide range of brands & products, huge volume, global coverage, unparalleled standards and accuracy for logistics services, as well as financial strength to support growth and remain competitive. Ingram Micro with all these strengths is committed to transforming the value proposition for technology distribution. Innovation is the key differentiator of Ingram Micro in the industry.

Regarding the trends in the near future, Atul adds, “Nowadays the customers are rapidly moving from feature phones to smart phones and technology is moving from 3G to 4G. This trend is going to accelerate further making mobile phone an instrument for consumption of huge online content—including movies, songs, photos, etc. People will demand high processor speeds, high memory capacity and speed, better clarity and quality, etc. As a result, we will see more innovations both on hardware and software fronts.”

Ingram’s management team is focused on understanding the actual customer expectations and bringing out the latest technology solutions and value-added services to the end users. Ingram will continue to demonstrate to the industry that it is the most effective partner to reach the end users.

 

Atul envisions, “The next big thing will be, as people starting purchasing new phones, they will sell the used ones which may still not be too old—few months to a year or so old. This will make the used phones, with nearly new phone looks and abilities, available at low prices, as low as 50% or less of the new ones, to the buyers, which is an attractive buy. Ingram is also working to actively make use of this opportunity. Whenever we buy a used phone, we take the complete description and details of the phone including its IMEI no, its present physical condition, ensure that the phone is not a stolen one , customer’s declaration to relinquish his rights on data on the old phone if any , etc. Similarly, when we collect an old phone, we also take the PAN / ID number of the sellers so that so that stolen phones do not make their way into our stock. We give all relevant details about the phone to the buyer who wants to purchase the used phones. We ensure that our partners also would be confident about selling second hands provided by Ingram. Partners are very important to us and without them we cannot proceed further.”

 

The mushrooming of online retailers, who often sell at much below the market operating prices, is adversely affecting the traditional channel and the traditional channel is deeply worried about this trend as it is cutting into their sales as much as profits. In this regard, Atul clarifies, “In developed countries online purchases amount to 30% and in India it is less than that, but increasing. However, these online sales proportion in comparison to offline sales will soon reach equilibrium. Many companies are selling online for little or no margins just to make inroads into the market and some of these online retailers spend a lot on promotion at the cost of their profits. And such a trend cannot last long. Next, service assurance for online buyers cannot match that for buyers from traditional channel. In the long run, it won’t be as easy for the online channels to run as it is today. Even vendors with vision know that if they ignore the traditional channel, they cannot do business in the long run, as the traditional channel still forms over 80% of the business in India. In fact, online exclusive offers are good, as they do not compete with the offers via the traditional channel. And some brands sell only offline. Our suggestion to the brands is either to clearly specify and differentiate the products that can be sold online and offline, so that market in general, and their brand images in the market in particular, do not get messed up or help ensure consistent MOPs across the two trades for the same products as that will help penetration faster and better.”

Ingram Micro specializes in three market segments: commercial, consumer and value-added resellers (VARs). Each segment comprises a variety of customer groups, for example: Corporate Resellers – Corporate technology solution providers; Direct and Consumer Marketers – direct marketers, computer superstores, mass merchants, Internet storefronts, consumer electronics and office supply stores; and Value Added Resellers – System and Web integrators, application VARs, and government and education VARs. More than 1400 vendor partners, including hardware manufacturers and software publishers utilize Ingram Micro as their distribution partner.

 

Regarding their future plans, Atul comments, “Traditional distribution business is going to stay; brands may come and go. Online retailing will reach a saturation point; it can never topple the traditional channel. And Ingram is here to stay, grow and flourish. In next two years, you will see more growth on Ingram’s value-added services with more focus on services and customer satisfaction. In future we also want get closer to the retail outlets and the end customers. We are using special apps to connect to partners and end customers.”