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(Al Futtaim Electronics) / 9 May 2012
Al Futtaim Electronics has carved a niche for itself managing demand planning, product logistics, home delivery fleet, sales, demand creation, tracking market shares, after sales support for all products, and engaging with the UAE authorities and industry bodies
Al Futtaim Electronics witnessed a healthy volume growth of 20 per cent in the UAE in 2011 compared to 2010. Specific categories such as IT, flat panels and appliances registered higher growth than market growth average as brand-aware consumers displayed a marked preference to select premium branded products, according to a senior official of Al Futtaim Group.
About expectations for 2012, Sachin Wadhwa, Director Electronics, Al Futtaim Group, said that with an increased focus on customer engagement and maintaining the eco-friendly approach with discerning customers of the UAE, Al Futtaim Electronics hopes to retain its leadership position as the premium trade partner.
He explained that as the Internet has evolved, prompted in part by the new web technologies/social media, it has become a platform for consumer interaction with the brand owners.
Companies are tapping into this new avenue for customer engagement and those that are able to provide a ‘services’ element in addition to the standard distribution model are more likely to succeed. “Al Futtaim Electronics prides itself on measuring through independent customer research their service levels afforded to our trade customers and has consistently over the last two years topped the charts with satisfaction levels of over 90 per cent,” he said.
These findings, he said, were recently corroborated by one of the big hypermarkets in the UAE when it found that the level of services provided by Al Futtaim Electronics was of the highest order compared to other suppliers.
Al Futtaim Electronics has been operating for over three decades in the UAE. It is one of the oldest and most trusted distributors of consumer electronics in the UAE. The company has dedicated teams that cater to the following niches:
Al Futtaim Electronics also serves other broadline categories including audio/video, IT, office automation and home appliances.
Al Futtaim Electronics distributes and retails flat panel displays, Audio/video electronics from basic devices to high-end audio products, IT — laptops and accessories, Cooling equipment i.e. refrigerators and air conditioners, Home appliances from small through medium domestic appliances, Washers, Telecom – cordless, mobile phones and EPABXs, Entire range of personal and health care products represented by world’s leading brands including Panasonic, Sanyo, Toshiba, Nokia, Microsoft Xbox and AFTRON.
In addition to these, Al Futtaim Electronics retails a complement of world-class audio brands under a single roof i.e. Audissey.
Networking with dealers
Sachin Wadhwa said that Al Futtaim Electronics is the only consumer electronics and home appliance trade distributor in the UAE, networking with dealers across the length and breadth of the country for over three decades.
“The company has carved a niche for itself managing demand planning, product logistics, home delivery fleet, sales, demand creation, tracking market shares, after sales support for all products, and engaging with the UAE authorities and industry bodies to shape policies and address industry issues,” he added.
About Al Futtaim Electronics’ flagship products and the winning features that have made them successful, Sachin Wadhwa said, “We represent the following brands and distribute their entire range of product categories in the UAE: Panasonic, Sanyo, Toshiba, Microsoft Xbox, Nokia (for the KDR channel) and AFTRON. Under the umbrella of Audissey – the only showroom of its kind in the world – we retail world-renowned audio brands such as: Burmester, Paradigm, Anthem, Jolida, Kharma, Wilson Audio, Perreaux, Analysis Plus, Audes, Audio Research, Ayre, Boulder, Cardas, Clear Audio, First Impression Music, Genesis, Lamm, Merlin, Transparent, Ultrasone and Verity Audio
“All of the products from the above brands are class leading and feature amongst the top three brands in the UAE thanks to their range of consumer desired features, attractive and competitive offers, eco friendly credentials and backed by complete after sales services,” Sachin Wadhwa said.
Sachin Wadhwa said that several new products are to be launched by the company this year.
In the IT category for instance, the company has introduced a wide range of Ultra books that provide a unique productive experience to users ensuing high degree of mobility and battery life performances. The ever dynamic Telecom category will witness the launch of the first Windows OS based smart-phones in addition to the recently launched Nokia Asha series of feature phones that aim to bring web access to the next billion consumers. Tablets feature strongly on the agenda too and the world’s lightest tablets will be introduced sometime in Q3 ’12.
There are various new developments on the consumer electronics product horizon and a slew of improved products will find their way into the retail stores within the second half of the year. The smart TV with Web connectivity functions and the newly launched 3D TVs will continue to upstage competition and gives a chance to consumers to experience something exciting.
Also earlier this year Techserve, a leading service and systems integration provider announced its alliance with global remote tech support services provider iYogi to provide on-demand remote tech support for consumers and businesses across the GCC.
Rajagopal S, General Manager, Techserve said: “This is the first time such a service is being offered in this region and will be made available to homes and businesses that require quick and efficient resolution across a comprehensive range of technologies and brands.”
The service for PCs and a range of connected devices is primarily subscription based however incident-based services will also be available. Arabic enabled support is presently being developed and is expected to be launched later this year.
To subscribe or to access this service UAE customers can call the toll free number 800 0357 02455 or visit www.techserveuae.com.
Customers can choose various contact channels including real-time phone, chat and e-mail for a suite of services including diagnosis, repair, installation and maintenance for multiple devices, software applications and other products.
Sachin Wadhwa said that Al Futtaim Electronics prides itself on getting the latest technologies and consumer relevant products to the market as and when the innovation happens globally. “Our near term focus continues to be investment in customer engagement systems and processes and measure customer satisfaction across all the brand categories that we represent. The company envisions itself as the electronics distributor of choice and to be the first port-of-call across all its trading partners,” Sachin Wadhwa said.
Delivery and Installation capabilities
As part of its commitment to its customers, Al Futtaim Electronics set up their own in-house logistics facility with the aim of providing industry benchmarked services. This is now a significant activity within the Logistics operation requiring seamless coordination with retail outlets, channel partners and Techserve.
Suneel Mehra, Divisional Manager – Logistics, Electronics, Engineering and Technologies said: “Al-Futtaim Electronics’ logistics services cater not only to the Dealer network across the country but also end customers. Plasma and LCD screens and other large home appliances are now all home delivered and installed. We currently average 2500 installations per month in Dubai and Sharjah and have the capacity to handle 4000 units per month.”
Sachin Wadhwa attributed a technologically astute team, customer facing initiatives, logistics capability backed by a strong after sales support organisation (Techserve) as some of the factors that helped Al Futtaim Electronics get the lion’s share in the CE business.
Sachin Wadhwa confidently said that Dubai has established itself as a market where consumers look forward to experiencing the best that technology has to offer – these ‘wants’ are efficiently serviced by a strong local trading entity i.e. Al Futtaim Electronics.
“Global brands trust us to estimate demand and get the new technologies to market in the shortest possible time. Our dedicated boutique showrooms help with the demonstration and usage capabilities to end consumers and trade partners alike. We have a world-class training facility in-house that is provided to the brand partners to help educate the trade partners before a consumer launch,” he said.
Additionally Dubai also serves as a trading hub for the budget conscious customers and in this Dubai positions itself to service the needs of all range of customers from the budget conscious to the technology leaders, he said.
Some of the challenges, according to Sachin Wadhwa, faced by the CE sector include:
Maintaining pricing discipline – this impacts the profitability of many a brands as some companies try out short-term tactical pricing to unsettle the market and in the process end up short-circuiting their own earnings goals as well as confusing the retail consumer
Threat of parallel imports – spurious traders end up looking to make a fast-buck peddle sometimes spurious products that do not conform to UAE standards and also compromise the long standing investment made into market development by the established distributors.
Sachin Wadhwa was of the opinion that continuous innovation in electronics that stems from a keen research into consumer buying behaviour and needs – will help bring relevant technologies into the market. Investment in consumer engagement and the overall experience right from when the consumer first opens a newly purchased product to getting that occasional assistance to guide the customer through usage will also stimulate the market.
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