E-commerce drives growth at global distributor Electrocomponents

March 23, 2015 02:42 PM

E-commerce accounts for more than half of total sales at Electrocomponents plc, the United Kingdom-based global distributor of semiconductors, electromechanical components and other products used by electrical engineers.

But the company, which distributes products from some 2,500 suppliers, figures the web could account for an even higher share of sales, group chief executive Ian Mason says. “We can do just so much more on the web,” he says. “Our goal is to build a £1 billion-plus e-commerce business.”

For the company’s fiscal year ended March 31, 2014, e-commerce sales as a share of total sales increased two percentage points to 58%—as the company moved closer to its goal of 70%, Mason says. For the 2014 fiscal year, e-commerce sales increased 6% to 738.40 billion British pounds (US$1.10 billion ), up from £691.94 million (US$1.03 billion) a year earlier, as total sales increased 2% to £1.273 billion (US$1.90 billion) from £1.236 billion (US$1.85 billion).

For the six months ended Sept. 30, 2014, the most recent figures the company has released, e-commerce sales increased 5% to £357.51 million (US$534.07 million) from £368.53 million (US$550.53 million) as total sales increased 2.8% to £616.4 million (US$920.81 million) from £635.4 million (US$949.19 million).

Mason attributes part of the increase in e-commerce sales to several ongoing improvements to the company’s e-commerce sites that operate under the brand names Allied Electronics, which serves customers in North America, and RS Components, which operates with dozens of e-commerce sites for markets across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

Among Electrocomponents’ latest web site upgrades is at the RS Components site for China, which among other things features an improved site search, larger product images, and improved information on product pricing and inventory availability, the company says. Other changes include showing the most popular products at the top of search results, and a faster checkout process that lets customers avoid having to repeatedly log in when revisiting the site.

"Improving our customers' online experience is fundamental to our e-commerce strategy and our goal to build a £1 billion e-commerce business,” says Keith Reville, global marketing director.

Electrocomponents released the following regional figures on growth in e-commerce and total sales for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2014:

● North America: 19% growth in e-commerce sales year over year, compared with 10% growth in total sales, as e-commerce accounted for 40% of total sales, up three percentage points;

● Europe: 6% growth in e-commerce sales, compared with 2% for total sales, as e-commerce accounted for 70%, up two percentage points;

● Asia: 2% growth in e-commerce sales, compared with 5% for total sales, as e-commerce accounted for 47%; up two percentage points.

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