Atul Gaur, Director, Savex Technologies, who recently joined the board of Savex after spending 29 years at Ingram Micro, shared how Savex has performed during the challenging times of lockdown
Headquartred in Mumbai, Savex Technologies is India’s third largest ICT distributor and is reckoned to be a backbone of the biggest global ICT brands and IT providers, who are leveraging deep expertise of Savex in technology solutions, ecommerce, mobility, cloud, and supply chain solutions that enables its business partners to operate efficiently and successfully in the markets they serve. Exceptional agility, deep market insights and the trust and dependability that come from decades of proven relationships, sets Savex apart and ahead in the distribution curve. But, the recent lockdown has been a hard testing time for distributors like Savex. In a first exclusive interview with CRN India, Atul Gaur, Director, Savex Technologies, who recently joined the board of Savex after spending 29 years at Ingram Micro, shared how Savex has performed during the challenging times of lockdown to keep its warehouses ticking for meeting the deliveries and the robust recovery strategy, post Covid 19.
How do you assess the impact of the lockdown situation and the lessons learned?
Lockdown has hit all of us hard. The whole world resembles a war zone. The pandemic is claiming lives and has brought the world’s economy to its knees. With no known vaccine and no solution in sight, the world is changing fast. Already talks of ‘new normal’ and ‘self reliance’ are being heard loud and clear. With lockdown, governments are trying to stall the pandemic growth rates, but is posing them a tough question of protecting Lives V/s Livelihoods. Many industries are severely impacted, be it travel, tourism, hospitality, transport, retail consumerism, etc. The dropping of fuel pricing, stalling of entire economic activity, is forecasting lower or negative GDP growths which will take years for countries to come out of. Even, micro impacts are being seen across in businesses, processes, people culture, cost management and health management issues.
Humanity and businesses both in recent times have never seen such sudden paradigm shifts. All these hardships are bringing immense learning.
Attitude of giving, supporting underprivileged, becoming self-reliant, living within own means are some of the other key learnings. At Savex, we are doing our utmost to help the underprivileged. The company under the leadership of our Chairman, Anil Jagasia, took early lead in supporting the cause. Our branch managers supported hunger and related causes in their local markets. The company also took key initiatives in working with many NGOs to support the noble cause. At the same time, we also took steps to extend support and care of our employees, and also worked tirelessly to support key essential requirements in IT products, of many government organisations who have been working round the clock, to support the larger cause.
With complete nationwide lockdown, distribution business was coming to a standstill. How do you see the overall impact of lockdown on the business, including on customer and partners?
Indeed, the business has been hit very hard. With almost two months of lockdown and business coming to a standstill, the channel has been hit hard and has impacted us and our OEM partners too. The choking working capital (both on pending collections from market and paid up inventories), the looming interest costs and large salary bills have been the sore points, as incomes have dried up.
The impact would be significant in terms of yearly revenues and incomes. With spending getting curtailed further, (as already forecasted in terms of reduced GDP rates), the businesses would get impacted adversely. Our OEMs have also been hit hard, however quite a few of them have come up with products, services and solutions to support the impact of burgeoning costs but are also looking at ways to reduce overall costs, in the quest of augmenting business growths.
Can you highlight the level of preparedness being exhibited by Savex to handle such unprecedented situations?
Like other businesses, the impact of Covid led lockdown was sudden on Savex too, but with forward thinking on the part of our CTO, Devang Pandya and senior management team, we averted business continuity related issues. Well before the start of lockdown almost all our sales and other key staff members were equipped with laptops secured connectivity to our servers. Our IT teams made it possible, and were able to mass execute the plans, well within the tight timelines. This ensured uninterrupted seamless business facilitation. The company also supported the staff with health enhancing and immunity boosting supplies, besides exhaustively training and advising all on general hygiene. The regular cadence of in-camera team meetings with our sales and business leadership teams, helped in our preparedness to handle key supply situations for our channel partners.
Besides the above, our e-commerce teams constantly worked in supporting order collection and assurance of deliveries post lockdown, as Work-From-Home(WFH) requirements boosted requirements of IT, mobile products and accessories. The teams also used time for IT software enhancements, to manage supply chain efficiencies.
With rise in cyber threats and attacks during this period, how are you ensuring cyber security for customers?
Savex has a laser sharp focus in supporting cybersecurity requirements of our channel partners and end customers. While all our in-staff connectivity was managed through secure tunnels connected with our servers, however we also supported many solutions of our key OEMs in supporting the customer demands.
I must acknowledge, that unlike all other businesses, this security business exceeded all expectations during lockdown times and far exceeded the targets. The teams tirelessly worked in giving firewall, ATP and end point security solutions besides the SDWAN and VDI interfaces to support the business requirements.
How challenging has it been for Savex to provide service or support to your OEMs and partners in the lockdown period?
With complete lockdown in force and state borders being sealed, our teams worked closely with key government departments to secure curfew passes for key people, especially the ones who were to run our warehouse operations. Our key vendors also supported us, in this cause. During lockdown many of our staffs, supported deliveries of IT products as ‘essential’ needs for many banks and hospitals as they travelled in the end customers’ vehicles to the warehouses and facilitated deliveries. Our e-commerce operations supported many local deliveries through our partners, whilst the orders from end customers were constantly secured on our e-commerce portals. This has been hugely appreciated by the trade. Also, we supported many system integrators partners in facilitating special pricing from OEMs to help them win key government orders and successfully bid in reverse auction trades, too.
Can you talk about some of the best practices that your distribution house adopted to maintain the deliveries of the products across the country during the lockdown?
With joint efforts by our OEMs we have ensured deliveries to customers both in offline and online channels using new GTMs. Besides this, Savex also extended support to channel, towards working capital costs to ease operations in bringing back things to normal. Some of the novel practices we adopted are:
Business support to channel- Supported many channel partners in order collection and deliveries with fastest possible delivery SLAs (using local or hyperlocal service providers) , while orders and payments came online using electronic commerce options.
The endless aisle concepts -The offline stores (operating in green and orange zones) used e-commerce route to support end customer needs, for non-existent inventories, where Savex warehouses delivered products to the customers.
Delivery assurance to Red Zone customers– Whilst popular marketplaces in India were not even collecting orders ,quick deliveries of key IT, CE-HA and mobility products was assured by Savex to Red Zone customers (post opening of lockdown ) and therefore large business was conducted during lockdown. This was made possible by involvement of local partners trading on our e-commerce portals.
Investment in smart supply chain tech solution- Savex also developed a smart solution, (in support with supply chain tech partner) in mapping all pin codes across the three zones accurately and managed smooth deliveries.
The regular cadence of team meetings– Team meetings, both at senior management and at sales/business staff level helped in readying limited business operations especially at our warehouses.
Implementation of Covid-19 related SOPs-The new SOPs were implemented in warehouses which included sanitisation, social distancing, masks, temperature scanning, regular usage of sanitisers to clean surfaces, staggered lunch timings, etc.
With lockdown relaxation and reopening of the markets, how do you view the recovery of IT distribution and what are the new opportunities that lie ahead for Savex?
Covid is here to stay and we have to learn living with this virus. With high focus towards safety of our employees, WFH would remain an integral part of the business. E-commerce, O2O and endless aisle operations would continue to remain focused areas. We also see cloud services getting more tractions along with security, storage and software verticals in the commercial space, while laptops, printers and mobility products would gain traction in the consumer space, mostly driven by WFH demands. Also, as CAPEX investments slow down, hardware- as- a -service (HaaS) is bound to grow much faster in corporates and SMBs space.
With all fiscal barometers predicting reduced spending in IT, de-growth in PC business, we see that post lockdown spurts in business would bring some cheers but still indicate 2020 to be a tough year from growth perspectives.
Recognising this change, what’s your message to partners and customers?
Changing times call for change. Thereby, remodelling of business verticals and services, post Covid – 19. We believe, cloud services such as HaaS, IaaS and SaaS will grow bigger. Investing in security products and services will continue to reap rich benefits as these areas will see large growths too. Our OEM partners are already looking at newer opportunities in certain products and services and are closely working with us in evolution of new GTMs. Also, with Covid 19 impact, new opportunities are coming to the fore, especially in areas of healthcare and contactless management such as VC solutions, physical deliveries of products, attendance management, etc. As a company we are evaluating some opportunities and will be investing in few solutions which will help us and our partners in building new businesses.