‘Distribution business will become digital in next few years’

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Ketan Patel, Chairman & Managing Director, Creative Peripherals and Distribution
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Bullish on its niche market, Creative Peripherals has a focused business roadmap in place. In an interaction with CRN India, Ketan Patel, Chairman & Managing Director, Creative Peripherals and Distribution, explains the company’s areas of expertise, focus segment and digitisation of IT distribution business

How has been the company’s business journey so far?
Around 1996, we partnered with Epson. We realised that every company doesn’t have a linear market share, so we focused on companies which had less market share in a region, wherein we can work with them. We identified there’s was a niche market available, and we focused on the Western region. Soon, our association expanded to many other brands.

In the distribution business, we realised the need for getting exclusivity from brands; however, large brands couldn’t agree with it. Hence, we received exclusivity from peripheral brands. This is how journey in the peripheral space started. We worked with them on a fixed margin basis, thus we always focused on providing value-add to them.

In another instance, 90 per cent of Microsoft’s revenue came from the software business, so only a few players in the market focused on the hardware business. We were then appointed as the aggregator for Microsoft’s hardware business. Around 2006, we associated with Croma, which marked the beginning of our pan-India presence. Whereas, in 2017, we became a listed company.

We have 5000 listed partners, of which, around 2200 are active partners.

With the e-commerce boom, we started selling to Amazon and Flipkart. Slowly, we also diversified our portfolio and included imaging and lifestyle products. We have three divisions namely, IT, imaging, lifestyle and retail, and we are national distributor for most of the brands in our portfolio. The IT business contributes 50 per cent of business. Currently, we are performing well in all three channels — online, large format retail, and speciality retail.

Going forward, will you be looking at diversifying into the IT solutions business?
As a company, we want deal in products that provide great consumer experience. We are not focusing on the enterprise business. I think by 2022, only those brands will be relevant in the market that offer great consumer experience. Hence, we are aligning our focus accordingly. For instance, we have added gaming into our product portfolio. The gaming business is community-oriented and it is well aware of the technologies; hence, it becomes critical to provide great consumer experience and value-add. Scalability and omni-channel approach are also important in terms of business in this segment.

Has the smartphone boom affected the imaging business?
It hasn’t impacted the imaging business negatively. However, we now have only serious players in the imaging business now. We are catering to professional customers, which still forms a large part of the imaging market. Nokia, as an example, lost its market share in the smartphone business, but retains significant spot in the networking and 5G space. Similarity, the imaging market is becoming more niche.

How do see the IT channel business transforming in the future?
The emergence of cloud has changed the business scenario. Under these market circumstances, it will be difficult for box-movers to survive in business. Customers’ consumption pattern is changing with emergence of video based content. This has created new opportunities and partners need to capitalise on them.

What’s the roadmap for Creative Peripherals in the future?
We believe that distribution business will become digital in the next few years. As a result, our business processes and interactions with customers will also be digitised completely, which will include adoption of AI, chatbots among other technologies. Over time, we will also be conducting various events with our brands, alongside our digital activities.


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