The year 2021 has promised to be a pivotal year for industry players. Following the health crisis, many companies have had to face new challenges to develop their business. Among these dynamic players, RS Components, an expert in industrial distribution with 450 employees, has been able to do well: evolution of internal processes, new service offer and above all, an acceleration of the digitalization of their tools.
RS Components, the French subsidiary of the Electrocomponents group, is one of the leading distributors in the B2B market for industrial supplies and electronic components. Today, the company draws a positive balance sheet of the past year, although turned upside down by three phenomena:
- a health crisis that is still present: since 2019, RS Components employees have been working from home. The logistics teams, representing a third of the company's employees, are on site to ensure deliveries. This change in working habits has affected the flexibility of the distributor and its supply chain. While some members were unable to work from home because of their position, their colleagues were able to be accompanied by the company in order to best adapt to the new habits. This strategy of protecting employees paid off: the results were not impacted by remote work and the RS Components teams were able to continue their activity safely.
- a shortage of components: this phenomenon is becoming more and more widespread and has been reinforced by Brexit. The shortage of components and raw materials is explained in particular by overconsumption in certain sectors, such as the automobile or the white market, for simple fear of running out. To overcome this situation, RS Components has been able to anticipate market movements and store a sufficient number of items, for thousands of products, in order to ensure service to its customers. The company has also approached its manufacturers in order to prepare them for future demands from their customers. Stéphane Maffli, President of RS Components France, recently spoke through a series of videos to explain the ins and outs of this shortage and thus raise public awareness.
- and a growing demand from customers: if the health crisis has impacted the daily lives of companies, it has especially accelerated their digitalization. RS Components has, for years, digitized its operation, thus taking the lead over other players in the sector just beginning their transformation. RS Components' e-commerce site was created in 1998. Stéphane Maffli observed an increase of nearly 5,700 new business customers per month in 2021, for a total of 118,000 customers. These new demands caused by the health crisis, due to the closure of physical stores, are therefore mainly due to web traffic, including from private customers.
"2021 has made us evolve positively. We have learned to work remotely, to question our processes and to make decisions, which are certainly not easy, but which have avoided more important problems in the long term. Our teams have remained positive and motivated," says Stéphane Maffli.
As an innovative digital player, RS Components continues to adapt to the new needs of its customers and their new habits. Sales teams have implemented many tools to better understand their customers and meet them digitally to counterbalance the "home office" phenomenon.
RS Components aims to acquire new structures in the coming years in order to continue its development in France and continue to facilitate the activity of its customers by offering them a 360° solution. Indeed, the evolution of the purchasing behavior of professionals raises questions about B2B. The health crisis has reinforced a need for autonomy on the part of customers, a need that is mainly felt in the Internet sphere. Today, all major distributors have embarked on the creation of their own digital platform dedicated to these professional players. RS Components did not wait and has long invested in a digital solution that not only allows its customers to be autonomous but to be responsive in the event of a problem thanks to a human contact maintained. RS Components is also continuing the evolution of its digital tools: implementation of an IAdvize chatbot based on artificial intelligence, management of customer messages on social networks, development of the website in responsive, installation of the Optibelt bot for order management.
"Our strength today is to offer more than a product offer but a complete service adapted to the needs of our customers. B2B is over. Now it's H2H: human to human," says Stéphane Maffli.
Education, a multi-stakes market
Education is a priority for RS Components, a promising sector representing its second largest customer. The Beauvais-based company supports university and engineering schools on a daily basis with an offer of products and services adapted to their needs. She is also involved in the training of students through internal recruitments and in various challenge and sponsorship projects.
This student target represents the future of engineering for RS Components: not only are there its future customers but also its future talents. It is to continue to increase their skills that the distributor invests in multiple innovative projects. This end of the year was marked by the participation of RS Components in the Maker Faire Paris and the launch of the "Engineers of Tomorrow" competition, in partnership with Leroy Merlin and Sciences & Vie. The latter aims to reward the most creative projects of students, researchers and other makers. Electronic kits, lab equipment but also the installation of a fablab for an amount of € 17,000 are at stake for the participants.
"Education is a major segment of our customer base; we support universities and engineering schools through our product offer and our DesignSpark services and blog. We also want to develop our presence among the youngest, especially in high schools and colleges with local actions such as the blue-bot project or the support of connected projects," says Stéphane Maffli.
Socially and environmentally committed
The quality of work, the control of risks at the workplace, compliance with legislation and the environment, the development of the women and men who make up the company, etc.: these are some of the priorities that RS Components has chosen to integrate into the heart of its policy. It should also be noted that the health crisis has not slowed down the pace of recruitment of the company.
"RS Components is a company that believes and invests in its employees, we also make every effort to attract new talent and anticipate the jobs of tomorrow. Our difference is first of all our culture, working for RS Components; it is the guarantee of innovating and looking together for ever more effective solutions to satisfy our customers and make all the teams proud, "says Céline Centeno, HR Director France.
In January 2022, Electrocomponents chose to appoint Jordan Barry as Chief People and Culture Officer. Its ambition is to make the corporate culture a real differentiating element, where employees can be themselves and evolve in a more sustainable world. This appointment is the first step in the new ESG plan "For a Better World" presented last November by Andrea Barrett, Vice President of CSR at Electrocomponents. If this initiative comes from the group, it is fully integrated into the vision of RS Components in France.
In France, Elise Rivera Saez, Environmental Quality Manager, works on a daily basis to improve the working environment of the company's employees and to apply the group's guidelines in terms of social and ecological responsibility. The "For a better world" plan is already being implemented on the Beauvais site.
"Today, customers are increasingly watching their partners' CSR initiatives. At RS Components, we already have a dedicated team working on a daily basis to improve the working environment and the impact we can have on the planet. We are also pushing our manufacturers and suppliers to join our dynamic to move forward together towards a 'better world'," concludes Stéphane Maffli.
The Beauvais company sees beautiful projects for 2022. RS Components is also planning an extension of site 2 in Beauvais, which is now saturated. Nearly 235,000m² will then be dedicated to RS Components' logistics activity on its sites 2 and 3.