RS’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike England explains how MRO suppliers can play a key role in evolving your MRO procurement strategy to keep up with changing trends and technology

RS has been in business now for 80 years, and over that time we have served manufacturing and industry along with the engineering community by being at the forefront of innovation. It’s in our DNA and it is our mission to continuously seek to help engineers be inspired as the industry and the markets change over time; whether that comes from technology or digitisation, or both.
I think, from a procurement point of view, the key for us is about trying to paint a picture of what the manufacturing industry will look like over the next five to ten years. When you look at recent research we conducted with CIPS, speaking to procurement and supply professionals, it is clear that they recognise the MRO world is changing and that they are looking for help to deal with that change. There are suppliers, like RS, who can help facilitate this.
Multi-channel approach
RS ensures that we are continuously supporting the move towards eCommerce and supporting a multi-channel approach to MRO procurement. Switching to digital (via the web, mobile and RS’s ecommerce solutions) is the single biggest opportunity for procurement professionals to move away from more traditional higher cost methods of procurement to move towards self-serve, web-based or eProcurement solutions. Looking for vendors that can provide both consolidation of their supplier base and move more quickly into the digital space will immediately drive benefits for organisations. In addition to digital solutions, RS also provides support through our RS Local branches, customer service team and managed inventory services supporting customers’ across a range of other channels and providing customers with a choice as to how they place and receive their orders.
"Data will be key but it’s vital that you use that data to form a trusted partnership with suppliers rather than as a stick to beat them up with" Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Components
Make the most of data
The second area is around helping organisations understand how to work with their suppliers in partnership to really make the best use of data. Suppliers like RS can help customers find out why they are buying products across several sites in a certain way when they could be buying them more efficiently, for example. In my mind, data for procurement professionals will be key, but it’s vital that you use that data to form a trusted partnership with suppliers rather than as a stick to beat them up with.
More and more customers are adopting digital channels to place their orders or to search for products, which means the use of data within the supply chain is ever increasing. If companies have solely been using more traditional methods, and focussing purely on the product price and not using data to look at the whole end-to-end process cost then, in my opinion, they won’t achieve the long-term benefits available. And while there’s always going to be an in year budgeted cost reduction that people are seeking, there has to be a longer-term view that incorporates a wider efficiency gain. Data can play a huge part in enabling customers to be able to build the roadmap to achieve this.
" RS’s role is to help organisations along the journey of change, to continuously evolve our product range and to use data insights to help them" Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Components
Transformation journey
Our business is on a really exciting transformation journey. RS took a brave decision at the end of the 1990s to jump into the digital space very rapidly and we’ve now got 20 years of experience under our belts. Over the next two to five years we want to build on that infrastructure and support our customers, existing and new, as they start to understand how they’re going to operate in an increasingly disruptive market with technology that is advancing at pace.
And so for us as an organisation, I believe our role is to help organisations along that journey of change: to continuously evolve our product range and to use data insights to help our customers. This could be ensuring that they have the right inventory or it could be making sure we stock the right products that tap into some of the big agenda topics such as the Industrial Internet of Things, and how technology will change the face of how business is done within the industrial environment.