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Incessant Innovation for the Complete Digital Experience - Rajiv Bapna, Director, Amkette
SMEWORLD interacts with the energetic Director of Amkette, Rajiv Bapna.
How did you come up with the business idea that led to Amkette?
In 1986, Floppy Diskettes were becoming a major Storage Media replacing Magnetic Tapes. India was getting ready for Computer Revolution under the leadership of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Only a few companies in the world had technology for Floppy Diskettes. After prolonged discussions, we were able to tie up with a leading German Technology Innovator to procure the required technology and organized the investment from family and friends to start the first Floppy Diskettes Plant in India. With our strong experience in project execution, technology background and adoption of world class manufacturing standards, Amkette Floppy Diskettes were an instant hit in India and abroad. Incidentally, first two letters of Amkette i.e. 'A' and 'M', are also the initials of our Company. Obviously, 'Kette' comes from Diskettes and so Amkette. Thus Amkette was incepted in 1986.
Milestones of Amkette since inception
- April 1986 - India's first 20.3cm (8”) Floppy Diskettes shipped out from Amkette Plant.
- December 1986- First export of Floppy Diskettes from India by Amkette.
- 1987- Established 13.3cm (5.25”) Floppy Diskettes Plant.
- 1988- National Productivity Award from President of India.
- 1991- Established 8.9cm (3.5”) Floppy Diskettes Plant.
- 1995- Largest selling Floppy Diskettes brand in India.
- 1997-India's Best Consumables Company Award
- 1999- Introduction of first Keyboard with Membrane Keys in India.
- 2004- Introduction of CD recordable and CD rewritable in Indian Market.
- 2006- Introduction of DVDRs in India.
- 2007- Launch of Series – A range of Computer Peripherals.
- 2008- Introduction of Flash Drives and Memory Cards in India.
- 2009- Launch of Flash TV in Indian Market.
- Jan 2011- Unveiling of new Company Logo and Vision 2020 .
- April 2011- Introducing of a series of Wireless Products in the Country.
In 1986 we started with four core values which we call as the DNA of Amkette-
1. Benchmarking ourselves against the best practices across the world in all aspects
2. Focus on quality and reliability
3. Pro active customer service and widespread infrastructure for the same
4. Aggressive marketing strategy
Over the years we have kept the core values intact and we attribute our success to this very strong foundation of ours.
We were the first company to coin the term “Fast moving Computer Goods”, this model which means selling through channel partners, retailers etc and also directly supporting the sales through our regional sales personnel at the regional points of purchase was incorporated by us in the beginning and has been carried through since.
The only shift that has happened over the years is in the genre of products manufactured by Amkette. We started with manufacturing floppy diskettes from which we moved to manufacturing CDs and DVDs and other storage devices eventually and then broadened our range to peripherals like keyboards, mouse and now we offer a wide range of storage products, peripherals and unique convergence devices like Flash TV HD, Wi key touch keyboard etc directed at Redefining Digital Lifestyle.
We are close to touching 100 crores by the end of this financial year.
What are the challenges that you have faced in setting up your business and keeping up with competition?
When we started in 1986, there were tough regulations for IT industry, stringent policies for manufacturing in India which was a major challenge. We used to visit the Department of Electronics and Ministry of Industries regularly to present the issues faced by us then. Other than this there was head to head competition with MNCs which dominated the Indian market. We kept a strong and steady pace to beat up the competition and make our place in the market.
Please share some insight about your manufacturing facilities and employment generation. Have you ever considered relocating/ outsourcing your manufacturing to China? Why or why not?
We own an 80,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in Udaipur (Rajasthan) for basic design and development of the products, plastic cases for laptops, tablets, flash drives, printer ribbons and others.
For some high-end products like flash TV HD, wireless keyboards, bluetooth mouse, optical mouse and others, we have a contract manufacturing facility in Shenzhen district of China.
What range of products does Amkette offer today?
Amkette offers a wide range of products ranging from Convergence products like Flash TV HD, Flash Link, Wi Key Touch to wireless peripherals like keyboards, Air Mouse for large screens, Element mouse for laptops, Pearl Bluetooth Mouse, Laptop essentials like cleaning kits, Laptop sleeves, Turbo USB Charger which has seven USB charging points, other laptop accessories latest being Professional Grade Multi format card readers. The product range by Amkette focuses on Redefining the Digital Lifestyle that we all are living today. We all are using the computers, laptops, mobile phones, iPods, Digicams and many more gadgets which manage most of our tasks, to ease this very usage of these devices, Amkette offers solutions in form of compact, manageable and affordable gadgets which help us integrate, sync and bring together all the macro devices for a redefined optimum usage.
Which are the product areas untapped by you that you feel are lucrative and intend to exploit in the coming years?
As we said we are focusing on the Digital Lifestyle Category, right now every other day new innovations in technology take place and the products come in the market, every few months the technology, needs and demands are changing, therefore we intend to be active in and around the upcoming gadgets in the market, whether its about creating their accessories, micro gadgets to ease their usage etc.
Many companies are jumping into the tablet bandwagon. What is Amkette's plan?
We do see an opportunity in Special purpose tablets and Amkette may enter the field but not immediately. Amkette would like to wait and watch the market and needs evolve on the tablet front.
You have mentioned that Amkette has 22 sales offices across India. Which are the channels used by you to market your product. What is your distribution network like?
Right now we are selling through our 22 sales offices across 110 cities. Over 500 distributors and 6000 retail outlets. Also as mentioned above we practice our model of 'Fast moving computer goods' where not only do our channel partners, distributors etc sell our products, our own regional sales personnel go directly to points of purchase and provide training/ education about the products and assist in sales.
In near future we plan to come up with our experience zones in metros where customers can visit and have the look and feel of Amkette products.
Are you tapping the power of social media to directly interact with your customers? If yes, what initiatives are being taken?
Social media is one of the very important medium to reach out to our consumers and prospective customers. We have a customer engagement platform on Facebook where regular updates are available about the company and products and it's an efficient platform to communicate directly with our customers as well.
E-commerce is fast catching up in India. Companies like eBay and Flipkart are offering digital products at very competitive rates. Are you considering them as one of your sales channel?
Indeed, Amkette products are available on eBay and Flipkart, and other important online shopping portals like Indiatimes, India mart, Homeshop 18 etc as well. We consider online sales presence as an essentiality. Our products can also be bought from our online store @ www.amkette.com .
How have the digital products market evolved in India in the last two decades?
Amkette has witnessed a huge growth in the digital products market. There was a time when we used to function with a 256 KB worth of space in a floppy diskette while now cell phones accommodate and serve for space up to 32 GB. Today even 1TB space falls short to consumers. While the capacities and requirements double, the prices of the digital products have been declining in halves. About 15 years back, mobile phones were still a luxury for the very few and today mobile phones are a necessity. There has been a tremendous movement forward in the digital products market where needs have evolved, becoming complex and multiplied from being brief and simple in the past. The consumers today are demanding, intelligent and questioning. To satisfy and retain them, every company has to be on their toes offering the best products, timely service and support.
Do you have any plans of ersification?
IT is an everyday growing field. There are a lot of opportunities, we ersified from storage media to a convergence catalyst and our products are targeted at redefining the digital lifestyle. So definitely we are always on the lookout for ersifications.
What kind of growth do you foresee in the digital products market in India?
The digital products market in India is evolving much faster than expected and currently leading in comparison to other developing countries. While the Tier I cities have been the contributors in the huge growth so far, today the growth is coming from Tier II and III cities where the awareness and desire to experiment is growing day by day. Though we still face bandwidth issues which defer the reach and growth of digital lifestyle but in spite of all the issues being faced the digital products market is growing at the rate of 25% approx year on year .
Where do you see Amkette five years from now?
We have not defined our vision in terms of numbers but yes we have a vision to be the providers of Wireless comfort to all the consumers and become a leader in area of Digital Lifesyle, We aim to provide cutting edge, state of the art technology and unmatched user experience at competitive prices.
What is your message to upcoming entrepreneurs?
The new generation of entrepreneurs should make sure that
1. The values and discipline form the core of their business right from the beginning of their ventures
2. The company core too needs to be defined so that as the environment context changes the business can evolve around the
same core while leveraging the new opportunities
In our case the core has been technological and price innovation with strong customer service for exceptional customer value.
- Winner of appreciation award for promoting SMEs in India.
- 1st ever Indian magazine to penetrate tier II, III cities & the rural belt.
- Industry Partnerships include CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCC, AIMA, ITPO, SME Network, Federation of Indian Micro Small Enterprises (FISME)
- Official Magazine Partners for several national & international MSME events.
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