E-commerce is a hot topic across the globe. It has transformed not only businesses but our everyday lives as well. The convenience of getting a product delivered at the doorstep without any hassle drives the popularity of such online platforms, even in the B2B space. So, technology has definitely inculcated new behaviours and preferences among organisations that have resulted in better and effective professional excellence.
In an exclusive interview with CRN India, Sundaresan K, Vice President – High Growth Technologies & Country General Manager, Tech Data addressed how e-commerce played a key role in transforming businesses. Also, he highlighted how Tech Data, one of the major IT distributors in the country, aims to aid its channel partners and vendors and enable them to adopt digital business practices through a strategic partnership with Peer Connexions.
Shed some light on Peer Connexions innovative B2B e-commerce solution? What advantages does it have over the traditional channel model?
Peer Connexions is a B2B e-commerce solution that brings together global brands, their distributors, independent sellers, and resellers on a single platform enabling information sharing, transactions, and automated workflows in real-time.
While most e-commerce platforms deal in the B2C space, Peer Connexions brings in a business-to-business (B2B) platform that is specific to the IT channel industry.
E-commerce is a crucial contributing factor for the digital transformation of any business. Hence, the platform, created by the best minds in the distribution industry who have faced and understood the on-ground nuances of the distribution channel, is focused on creating a flow in the value chain from vendor to distributor to partner in a seamless and hassle-free manner. It is built for the channel to address absolute necessities keeping the partner community in mind.
Today, many partners might be having their online presence and an e-commerce gateway as well. However, this platform will bring partner organisations on a single window enabling all the channel partners to have a digital presence and enhance the scope of their distribution network. So, getting everything under one roof is a different go-to-market route if compared with the traditional channel. Through this, we try to push the digital transformation journey of IT channel in India which will benefit the partners.
How is Tech Data contributing to revolutionise the traditional channel model?
There are multiple things that we are doing across the globe. Our digital transformation journey, in each of the geographies including the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Japan is in different stages.
We are trying to bring the best practices, which have contributed to the success of our e-commerce presence in various geographies, to India to accelerate the digital transformation in the subcontinent. Similar to Peer Connexions, we have our own cloud platform through which we deliver cloud products, provisioning, and services. Further, we have our website that offers more content for partners.
All of this, when it goes into a single pane of glass and people can access a common platform, is going to be revolutionising. As a global distributor, we are trying to charter our path to be a leader and a fast mover in the market. The B2B e-commerce platform that we have brought forth with Peer Connexions is going to be not only beneficial to the channel partners but the entire community.
As a next step, we will allow partners to carry this to their customers through white labeling, all partners, can make use of that. That is the technology-led disruption that we are thinking to bring into the market, and this is one step towards our association with Peer Connexions, because the platform is very stable, robust, and offers a lot of features that the partners would need.
What are some present-day challenges that partners or OEMs face? What benefits does this e-commerce solution bring to the table for both partners and OEMs?
With the telecom and the internet boom that has happened over the last decade in India, we have every last corner of the country connected now. Therefore, it is in the interest of the vendors so that they can provide their solutions and products to customers across the length and breadth of the country.
This is the kind of digital transformation journey that we are trying to bring in. Even today, we are reaching out the people in even the remotest corners, however, it is taking more time. This is a pressing challenge that the distributors have been throwing at the channel ecosystem. Through the e-commerce platform, this time will reduce dramatically.
Hence, we look forward to allowing the penetration of the level of service delivery in a city like Mumbai or Bangalore in even remote corners of the country.
Another challenge that channel partners face is the limitation of manpower and people to perform tasks. They have limited resources to deploy and this will act as a force multiplier for them like distribution becomes a force multiplier for the vendor, an e-commerce platform can pose a force multiplier for digitalisation journey of the channel partners.
As you mentioned, there are many small cities and remote areas in the country where the IT channel is not very strong. What would you like to add on how e-commerce can help in addressing the challenge and boost the IT channel?
First of all, the onset of the pandemic created a reverse concentration effect. Many people headed back to their home towns in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and took up remote employment opportunities. Therefore, technology solutions enabled them work from anywhere, people can be part of a large organization, workforce, and achieve most part of what they would have achieved without migrating to a big city. This highlights the first step to address a wider consumer base.
Secondly, what the Amazons and the Flipkarts of the world did to the B2C industry, a similar revolution is needed in the B2B space as well, and this is what we aim for, to revolutionise the value chain.
The third aspect is that the same products and solutions reach customers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities but there are layers involved. It may or may not reach the intended form and fashion to the end customer when delivered. Therefore, this digital platform will disrupt the legacy system of delivery and will bring customers closer to partners and vendors in the right possible manner. Therefore, the quality of services and products that we are used to see in metro cities will also be maintained in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This will further enahnce the quality of business as well and each partner in the country can cater to a larger audience and take their business to newer heights.
In my opinion, the next decade belongs to India, to us, so we are going to grow substantially and every customer is going to upgrade their lifestyle to a much better position.
With this Tech Data and Peer Connexions partnership, what are your plans for the upcoming year?
We are trying to make it end-to-end automated and to put everything in a single window. So, if you reach any of the tech data avenues to market, you will get access to whatever tech data offers to any platform or through any vehicle. That is the first objective on this list.
For example, if anyone comes on to Tech Data, India’s website will also get access to the Peer Connexions portal. The partners will get access to our cloud platform, our content, the global solutions that we offer, and much more. The Peer Connexion platform will not only display Tech Data products and services but a lot more options for them to think, evaluate, and consider. On top of that, the platform also offers a program for the channel partners to help them understand what is offered by the distributor and what is in for the partners.
The platform allows partners to compare availability of products within different avenues in the market and choose where to buy from, what to buy, and how to buy. This makes a big difference to their business.
The telecom industry went through a similar change of business scenario some time ago, this is when, to buy a specific telecom equipment or a mobile phone one needed to reach out to a particular company’s outlet or their official website. However, nowadays on e-commerce stores like Amazon or Flipkart all telecom devices and relevant accessories are available. Such a change also eases operations.
So, this is our ultimate aim to make our mark in the online marketplace with a platform like the one by Peer Connexions. One of the capabilities and the ability of the platform is that they get access to a large set of partners who we may not have been involved with.