RS is well known for its respected online service, but it is also investing in its local branches to give customers a personal service

“Our customers are always telling us that one thing they love about RS is actually being able to come into a branch to make use of our local service,” says Emma Botfield, Managing Director for the UK & Ireland at RS. “They like to talk to people on a local level – they want to be able to bring their problems, and challenges to us and get our help.”

The network of RS Local branches spread geographically around the UK supports businesses. From these sites, RS is able to distribute thousands of products on a same-day basis, support a click and collect service and provide over-the-counter sales – and each branch holds a carefully selected stock profile to match the needs of local customers.

Being able to access parts quickly is a vital resource for customers, explains Botfield. “Our local branches stock thousands of products. Customers are able to place an order online and if the product is in stock, it will be ready to collect in 15 minutes.

"Our local branches stock thousands of products"Emma Botfield, Managing Director for UK & Ireland, RS

“We had a recent case where a customer urgently required a Scopemeter to analyse a machine that had broken down,” she recalls. “They contacted their Key Account Manager at RS who put an order in with the local branch when it opened and within an hour he had collected and delivered directly to the customer.”



Flexibility and support for customers
As this example demonstrates, having a store network through our RS Locals provides flexibility and support for customers. Even in our increasingly digital, online age, bricks-and-mortar stores remain invaluable.

“Our customers want choice,” explains Botfield. “And they often do not stick with one channel. Click-and-collect is a key facility these days, while research also shows that lots of businesses want local services that understand their cultures and can provide on-going human relationships.”

As well as click-and-collect, the services offered by RS Locals include:

1. Kitting
Products can be combined to create a kit that perfectly suits a customer’s specification and is delivered when the customer wants, leading to a reduction in their process costs for these purchases.

2. Consolidated deliveries
One easy delivery containing all of the orders placed during the day, reducing both the number of parcels being handled and the amount of packaging used.

3. Call Off Stock
When a customer forecasts their product requirements and RS Components hold the inventory at the nearest RS Local, with the stock on hand and ready to be “called off” when they are required, reducing the inventory carrying costs for the customers

4. Inventory Management
RS ScanStock® is a managed inventory solution and involves a representative from the nearest RS Local branch controlling and replenishing stock for a customer at an agreed frequency

RS Locals have other advantages too. “Bricks-and-mortar stores are also required to showcase new and innovative products,” Botfield continues. “As lockdown restrictions ease and we're able to fully open the branches, they provide an opportunity for customers to see new products before they commit to buying them.”




Expanding network of RS Locals
In recent years, new RS stores have opened in Bermondsey, Heathrow and Plymouth. This has been a useful experience for Botfield and her team: “We’ve learnt a lot of lessons, particularly how important location is to our customers. For them, time is money and these new sites have really helped with being able to obtain products quickly.”

"We can help customers with inventory solutions alongside kitted and consolidated deliveries"Emma Botfield, Managing Director for UK & Ireland, RS

These lessons were applied when opening a new store in Plymouth. “Our customers spoke and we listened,” says Botfield. “We weren’t making things as easy as could for them in this area. But now with the new branch, we can offer inventory solutions alongside kitted deliveries, consolidated deliveries and timed deliveries to suit their needs – helping them to drive their own sustainability agendas while reducing their costs too.”

As well as opening new branches, we are refitting older stores. “With a fresh and modern look, the refurbished stores merge technology with human support where needed,” says Botfield. “The stores are bright and welcoming and provide areas showcasing new products, where customers can try products before they buy and learn about new and exciting brands.”

Working together
It is important, however, to not think of the RS Locals in isolation. Rather they form part of a broader support network, often working in conjunction with customer service.

For instance, our customer service and RS Local teams received an out for hours call on a Saturday afternoon from a company supporting offshore facilities for the oil and gas industry. A leading supplier of testing equipment had issued an urgent recall of products, which for the customer were in service and given their electricians were on various rigs and boats it meant they were unable to work and carry out necessary checks. The customer was able to find a suitable replacement kit, however the RS website advised delivery at the earliest would be on Monday morning. Various members of the RS team were able to find a solution for the customer, resulting in the product arriving at 5am on the Sunday morning and the customer able to safely and accurately carry out their necessary work.

“The updated stores provide an exceptional experience for customers,” says Botfield, “Whether they are in a hurry and want a fast purchase or are looking for a detailed technical discussion that will help them come up with a solution.”