Riding high on its innovative product range – Secure Connection is looking forward to associate itself with a diversified group of channel ecosystem – whether it is through traditional IT retail, modern trade, online, general trade, IT channel or through mobile channel, electrical channel, consumer electronics channel and gadget/gizmo stores. 2017 will be the year when the company’s strength will go stronger and deeper in India.
Mohit Anand, CEO, Secure Connection speaks with Zia Askari from ChannelDrive.in about the way Secure Connection is targeting to scale its operations in India and how channel ecosystem will play a critical role in its growth.
What are the key priorities for a brand like Honeywell today?
For a brand like a Honeywell which is a very well-known brand, but entering a new category and space in market and essentially a new line of business in India; the most critical priority is setting up your channel ecosystem. This is because this country is so diverse and large that if a brand doesn’t have right channel ecosystem and channel partner support, long term success is not feasible.
Hence, our biggest priority right now is building and scaling out our distribution and channel ecosystem, whether it is through traditional IT retail, modern trade, online, general trade, IT channel or through mobile channel, electrical channel, consumer electronics channel and gadget/gizmo stores. Each of these channels have different terms of trade and dynamics and treatment. So, our focus is to build out a scalable partner network. Within this, our sub-priority is making sure that those partners make money.
The second priority is ensuring that the product set that you give to your partner should be accepted by the consumer. Durability, price point, customer service, quality and other key features are also to be ensured.
Thirdly, the biggest thing from a consumer stand point becomes the education. The category that we are operating has become a highly commoditised business today. There are multitude of “no name” brands filled in the electronics market. Consumers are not aware about the options available that have a quality and genuine name of the brand to back it. There is a clear cut gap in the market in this respect. Therefore, our aim is also to assure consumers are aware that they have a choice to buy a product which is robust, durable, has the right feature set and is value priced viz-a-viz all the cheap, non-branded products that flood the market.
Now, a more long-term priority for us is to be able to create a set of products that surround the four screens that dominate technology today, namely the mobile screen, TV screen, PC screen and tablet screen. A consumer’s experience revolves around all these 4 screens. How do you make this experience better and richer and enhance it by surrounding it with products that make it easier, safer and more convenient to use for the consumer – that is a long-term goal that Honeywell envisions.
We have just started as a brand in India and October was our first full month of operations and we are extremely happy with the results so far. We have sold over 30,000 units in the first month. But still we have a long way to go.
What is your channel structure today?
We have always felt that there was no need for a national level distributor in the country, so we have appointed a national level C&F partner. He is not a distributor, but takes clear of clearing, forwarding and stocking, so that nationally the products can be easily made available anywhere. Below this, we have a city based distribution model. For instance, in Delhi there will be 3-4 regional distributors and for Punjab there may be 1-2. Similarly, for South region, we have a partner for Karnataka, Chennai, Pune, etc. We have done city-wise and category-wise distribution so that the partner remains focussed and a specialist of their respective channel.
To explain this further, let’s say there is a partner whose strength lies in distributing into the IT channel, so that partner is accordingly assigned for a particular city/region. Then there will be a distributor selling only into the mobile phone channel or consumer electronics channels and so on. In some cases there may be partners who will be serving two or three or all of these channels. Today, stationery shops are selling a lot of mobile phone accessories, so we have to approach that with a different partner.
While you are approaching these channel partners, what is the message that you give them?
Our approach if threefold – firstly we position ourselves that our products are not first-of-its-kind. There are many brands in the market that play in the same space. But today, in this sector, there are not many brands that can claim to be a well-known, well regarded, trusted accessories brand. Our second proposition is that we want our channel partners to make money. The third message that we have for them is – sell and forget. We do not expect our partners to worry about customer service or warranty, because Honeywell offers doorstep pick-up and drop for all products, should there be any defect in the same.
How many cities are you reaching today and expect to reach in the future?
We are in over 25 cities in India today and plan to reach next 300 cities in the next one year. We hope to cover pretty much the length and breadth of the country and have an active retail partner base of more than 10,000 partners.
How do support your partner ecosystem? Any training initiatives or any other activities?
There are multiple levers there including training and education and knowledge transfer to the partner organizations, which includes sales training, product knowledge sharing, feature training, education on key USPs, etc. We also offer recognition. We are actually working on a concept called ‘HERO – Honeywell Electronic essentials Retail Outlet’ to recognize our partners as authorized retailers and distributors of our products. Additionally, there are incentives and loyalty programs. We have recently rolled out a program called ‘Khushiyon ka Utsav’ during Diwali season, offering all their retailers a chance to win amazing prizes based on the sales volume they achieve during the promotion period. We also added on to it with a Diwali Dhamaka offer. Lastly, we offer complete marketing support in case a retailer wants to do small scale consumer event or mall activation or any other minor project like have a store branded, release an ad, do a small leaflet activity to say 10,000 homes or an SMS marketing activity. Currently, in Chennai we a chocolate activity going on, distributing a packet of chocolate to all the retailers on behalf of Honeywell Connection. We recently did a trade association event in Gurgaon.
Are you also involving the brand with local IT and trade associations?
Yes, most definitely. In fact, we were one of the participants at the Trade Association Of Information Technology (TAIT) event in Mumbai and a Bangalore Trade Association event, and also participated in the Diwali event hosted by GITA (Gurgaon IT Traders Association). We are now working on participating in the CMDA expo in Pune.
What’s your current position in terms of SKUs?
We have about 28 SKUs now but we are launching at least 15 more skills in the next few months. We will be adding 15 more products, some in new categories as well. By March, we hope to have over 75 SKUs.
Do you have any plans to venture into manufacturing?
We are evaluating the Make-in-India concept and hope to bring it into action in our case, wherein the components will surely come from China but the fabrication and final work will happen in India.
What are your growth plans in the country?
As a company we don’t disclose fiscal numbers, but I’d go back to Vikas Chadda, President at Honeywell India’s comment here, which rings true in my ear every single day i.e. “put a Honeywell product in every consumer’s pocket in India”.