Monday, May 21, 2018
Publication Date: 03/1/2008
Archive >  March 2008 Issue >  Partnering > 
Web Marketing: 250,000 Electronic Components

How do you make purchasing your products easy and accessible for review when you are the global supplier of almost 250,000 electronic components with over one million product attributes? How do you sort and update the mass of data without losing sight of the overall picture — your customers? And how do you make your data available to the market before your competitors?

Finally, how to do all this in such a way that your customers have a fair chance of finding and ordering the products they want to buy? If you are RS Components, one of Europe's leading electronics distributors, that has operating companies in over 20 countries and supports more than one million engineers, you redesign your web site and enlist the help of Endeca, an information access company that has a deep history working with design engineering at companies like Boeing, LG, Ford and John Deere, as well as the world's largest e-commerce operations, like Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Tesco, Barnes & Noble and CDW.

"RS Components has a fairly simple business objective: provide a part for every job, from research and development through pre-production to maintenance and repair," says Nik Patel, eCommerce manager for RS Components UK.

"While the objective is simple, the process necessarily is not. Our revamped Web site enables our customers to reach the right purchasing decision quickly and easily, with user-friendly search capabilities to allow easy access to the latest product information and prices. A lot of that has to do with our use of Endeca." Through its revitalized search and navigation engine and abundant product information, the new Web site enables electronics designers and maintenance engineers to save time and reduce their purchase costs when researching, evaluating, selecting and ordering products from the website. It is literally changing the way RS' customers are making decisions.

Supporting E-Stock Levels
"By integrating Endeca's technology with our implementation of SAP, we've been able to significantly raise our ability to support our e-centric strategy for our customers," relates Patel. "We can link our stock levels to the new web site so that customers searching or browsing the site via the Endeca platform instantly receive accurate information on product availability and pricing."

Despite having more than 250,000 products to showcase online, over one million product attributes and related technical documents, RS Components is able to offer better, faster and more efficient web tools, so customers can easily and accurately select the best product they need.

This has to do with the extensive intuitive analysis of customer expectations regarding web functionality. As a result, RS Components, in collaboration with Endeca, has significantly improved the customer experience by focusing on powerful yet transparent processes that include guided navigation, exposed product pictures, search ranges and attribute filters.

Easy Catalog Exploration
The new web site helps customers more easily explore the enormous breadth of the product catalog, evaluate trade-offs based on the available options, and identify the best product for their needs.

Improved and intuitive search and browse solution built on enhanced data. Through more intuitive Web tools, customers are able to browse the full breadth of the product catalog using integrated category and search filters. Search results are summarized by product attributes so customers can easily evaluate the best available options, and determine the best solution for a specific need.

Daily publishing. It is important to deliver what customers need when they need it in a cost-effective way. To this extent, RS dynamically introduces and offers new product and technology information on a daily basis.

One-stop-shopping. Customers can access multiple suppliers' products from a single point of contact. They can then compare and order any product with one click which enables electronics designers and maintenance engineers to save both time and money.

Product attributes, Six key attributes, including manufacturers' brands, are displayed on the search results page from which customers can apply new filters to their search criteria. Customers can then use up to five additional attributes from the results table to compare products.

Ultimately, distributors are competing with Google to become the starting point for the design engineer who is researching parts. RS is creating an online experience that gives customers a compelling reason to make it their starting point for all future design challenges.

To date, the revamped web site has been successfully implemented in the UK and across the Electrocomponents' operational companies in Europe (including Austria, Benelux, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) with an additional 29 countries through the RS International Distributor Network (IDN). RS expects to fully deploy the site to serve Asia Pacific customers later this year.

"RS Components is committed to delivering the best online customer experience so that it reflects the dynamic nature of the market," comments Patel. "Endeca truly understood this from the beginning which enabled us to provide this enhanced user experience for our customers. Managing massive amounts of product data can be both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately for RS Components, Endeca enabled us to make it a much more manageable experience for us and a smoother experience for our customers."

For more information, contact: Electrocomponents plc, International Management Centre, 8050 Oxford Business Park North, Oxford OX4 2HW UK Web: or Endeca, 101 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142 617-674-6000 E-mail:  

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