The growing popularity of own-brand products has been a powerful trend across the B2C world over the last decade and we have seen the development and marketing of own brands increase in sophistication. This same trend is now developing in the B2B market, resulting in a significant opportunity for growth.
Lindsley Ruth joined Electrocomponents as CEO in 2015 and quickly identified that the company was not leveraging the hidden gem that was its private-label portfolio. To capture this growth opportunity, he created a separate division to house the private-label business and appointed new leadership. This development is strategic to the growth of Electrocomponents and represents a key differentiator for our business. However, we are not new to private label, it is an integral part of our heritage and expertise.
For over 75 years Electrocomponents, through its trading brand RS Components, has been selling high-quality private-label products; between 1937 and the mid-1980s, RS was the sole brand identity. The RS brand was synonymous with high quality since the company’s engineers were committed to selecting best-in-class products. However, during the 1980s the business started to focus more on distributing multiple brands rather than on its private-label brand, and by the 1990s the RS product branding had drifted and the supplier business had taken priority.
Although the private-label business is not insignificant today, with revenues of £162 million, ($225 million), more than 250,000 active customers and around 40,000 products, the opportunity for growth is irrefutable and the vision is clear: Now is the time to bring our private-label business back to life. We can reinvigorate this business around the world by developing and marketing our private-label range as a brand in its own right, and that brand is RS Pro.
High Quality & Great Value
We have launched RS Pro as a single unifying global brand that is synonymous with high quality, performance and great value. This focus on RS Pro is not only strategic to the growth of our business but also to the growth of our customers’ businesses. Our aim is to offer customers a clear value option.
Engineers are under more and more pressure to deliver cutting-edge projects at the least possible cost. They need high-quality, high-performance products at exceptional value; and that is what RS Pro aims to deliver.
RS Pro incorporates a broad selection of both industrial products and electronic components. We will expand the range across these categories with new and innovative products to provide our customers with something they don’t have today. We will also look to evolve and extend the range across other industries as the business develops.
Engineers also need to have confidence and trust in their choice of products, which is where the RS Seal of Approval comes in. To assure our customers of the high quality of the RS Pro range, every product will be backed by the RS Seal of Approval. This represents adherence to the leading industry standards for audit, inspection, test and certification.
Our customers are located across the globe and whether they buy through Allied Electronics in North America or RS Components in the rest of the world, we need to make it easy for them to find and purchase our products. We will therefore ensure that the RS Pro range is as visible and accessible as possible online, including how the products are displayed as part of the search results and by improving the level of content available for each product. In addition, we will make sure that our customers understand the positioning and pricing of our products and how we add value with them.
Before the launch of RS Pro, customers of RS Components had access to our private-label range of products but there was much confusion as to the identity of these products due to the existence of three different private-label brands. As a single unifying global brand for the entire private-label range, RS Pro will eliminate this confusion and ensure that the identity of the range is clear. The transition of the existing portfolio to RS Pro will be implemented with a phased approach.
Customers of Allied Electronics have not had access to a private-label range of products before so this is an exciting new initiative in North America. We will introduce RS Pro products at a rapid rate to the Allied portfolio and ensure that customers understand the true value that this new range brings to them.
Not only does RS Pro offer great benefits to our customers, equally we see great advantages for our suppliers who will have the opportunity to work more closely with us. RS Pro will enable them to fill out the ‘value’ space in their product range with a trusted brand and therefore make their manufacturing investment more cost-efficient. Furthermore, new and small suppliers will have the opportunity to leverage the brand globally.
As RS Pro evolves, our position in the world as a strategic supplier will grow. Our intention is for RS Pro to continue to be a strategic supplier to both RS and Allied, but we are confident that there will be new opportunities to work with other partners to reach customers that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Our long-term vision is to evolve the RS Pro range with new technologies that will enable us to expand into new industries.
The opportunity for our private-label business really is open-ended, and I’m very excited about what we can achieve with RS Pro.
Click here for interview with Lindsley Ruth.
Kurt Colehower is responsible for Electrocomponents’ RS Pro product range around the world. This includes growing the size and reach of the private label portfolio to further the benefits it offers to both customers and suppliers. Before joining Electrocomponents in 2015, Kurt was President of the Americas Components Group of Arrow Electronics. He also held senior positions at Solectron Corporation.