How RS’s vast range of products helps customers run a more efficient business

One of the biggest factors for companies trying to reduce their costs and increase efficiency in indirect procurement is the number of suppliers they need to work with. When it comes to MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) procurement, consolidating suppliers to a smaller list is a crucial part of removing cost and complexity from the process. But to achieve this, your chosen suppliers need to offer as wide a range of products as possible.
With over 700,000 items stocked for same-day and next-day delivery, RS has one of the most diverse and largest offerings in the MRO market.
“We supply the full range of electrical products, have arguably the largest controls and automation range in our industry, a very large range of pneumatics and fluid power products and we cut right across the mechanical space, whether it be bearings or mechanical power transmission,” says Mike England, Chief Operating Officer at RS Group. “Add in our tools, consumables and hazardous area equipment and you can see that RS offers customers the ability to consolidate a significant amount of their indirect spend portfolio to just one supplier.
" We train our teams to understand customer requirements and then work with our suppliers to see how we can improve that experience " Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Group
“We also provide an extended sourcing service called Product Plus, so if a customer can’t find a product on the web or in the catalogue we have a team that will help them to find it,” adds England.
When it comes to reviewing and maintaining RS’s vast product range, the company puts a clear focus on stocking the products customers need now, and the ones they will require in the future. This is partly achieved through RS’s relationship with product manufacturers, according to England. “We have an ambition to partner with the leading manufacturers in our space and we work closely with our suppliers as well,” he says. “We use a mix of our own and our suppliers’ data insight to help understand what’s going on in different industries to find the most popular and most frequently purchased products.
" We actively work with our customers to understand their needs" Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Group
“Through our web analytics, we can see clearly what our customers are looking for on our website,” he adds. “If we see them searching for products that aren’t stocked, then we will look to align our stock profile to what our customers want to buy.” And, says England, if customers ask for products that aren’t stocked, RS has a process in place to help them find the part they need from another supplier. “If we don’t stock the product, which is unlikely to be the case in most instances, we have the ability to provide a very clean, smooth experience for our customers to be able to complete their basket.”
As well as using technology and data insights to influence products, RS engages directly with customers to find out what they require. “We actively work with our customers to understand their needs,” explains England. “In terms of products, we have an extensive sales team who work with customers frequently, and in the UK alone we have over 500 customer-facing personnel who engage with our customers on a regular basis. “We train our teams to listen and understand customer requirements and then we go and work with our suppliers to see how we can improve that customer experience.”
Recent examples saw RS support help two very different businesses. “Our local team were aware that one our customers [a supplier of cable harnesses] had been let down by a supplier of connectors used in their products,” recalls England. “Our local team were able to introduce the customer to a new manufacturer, which met their needs and they made sure the product was stocked at their RS Local branch so that the customer would always have access to the product.
“Another example where RS helped solve a problem was where one of our team uncovered the need for a testing cabinet to help diagnose the electronics in Bentley cars,” adds England. “We spoke to a manufacturer who helped design a bespoke cabinet, which Bentley then purchased for use in their electronics room and test vehicles.”
And if RS identifies a new or better product that customers need? “We simply add it to our own brand range,” says England. “Five years ago, we launched RS Pro, an own-label set of products that gives customers even more choice. We now have a significant range of RS Pro products and this gives our customers the ability to access in excess of 68,000 high-quality and competitively priced products – and we can be much more reactive around what the customer needs.”