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Catalogue giant heads for 50% of sales via the Web

16 October, 2007

RS Components predicts that within two years, half of its sales will come via the Web. By the end of this year, the company’s UK general manager Klaus Goeldenbrot expects that 43% of the company’s orders will be coming via the Internet.

RS Goeldenbrot

"Catalogues will be around for a long time," Goeldenbrot (above) says, "but the future is ecommerce."

RS, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, already has 100,000 more products available online in the UK than the 150,000 listed in its catalogue. The UK operation handles 220,000 accounts, processes 15,000 orders every day, and offers products from 1,200 brands.

In the automation sector alone, RS offers more than 35,000 product lines in the UK, from more than 200 suppliers. It has 60 dedicated technical support staff. According to Julian Wood, the company’s Process Control and Automation (PCA) market development manager, more than 6,000 of the products are new lines, including a range of RS-branded contactors targeting the lower end of the market.

"We are unique in the automation marketplace with our breadth of products and brands," Wood declares.

RS is now a global business with operations in 26 countries representing 82% of the world’s combined GDP. The company has 1.5m customers and employs 5,500 people around the globe.

Although RS has been growing globally at double-digit rates, Goeldenbrot concedes that it may not be possible to maintain this level of growth, in the light of recent economic uncertainties. "There may be some wobbles on the way," he warns.

He also expects technology to become less important when customers choose products. "Styling and brand will become primary sources of differentiation," he predicts.

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