Home Automation Segment has been the Game Changer: Kunal Nandu

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  • Vinay Electrical Solutions recently informed that it is close to making Rs 260 crore revenue by March 2020
  • The brand has recently forayed into the home automation market in India
  • It has been operating in the country for more than five decades
Kunal Nandu, Director, Vinay Electrical Solutions

Kunal Nandu (KN), director, Vinay Electrical Solutions, in an exclusive conversation with EFY Group shed light on how the 50 year old brand found its calling for foraying into the home automation market and how home automation has helped it register a 40 per cent year-on-year growth. The company is now aiming for Rs 500 crore revenue in 2022. KN feels that the home automation market is growing at a rapid rate and trade partners will have a great role to play in helping the brand achieve this target.

“Home automation is a critical market particularly in a developing economy like India. The average age of India’s population is comparatively younger than a lot of other markets. We are gunning towards home automation because we know that the acceptability for IoT and smart features is much more in India than developed countries,” explained KN.

Underlining the importance of electricians and retail partners he added, “We have created an app specifically for electricians. If an electrician is buying any product from the Vinay Electrical Solutions portfolio, he can scan the code of the product onto the app and redeem points for the same. Electricians can also get specific amounts transferred to their Paytm or bank accounts by using this app.”

Here are some more interesting excerpts from this conversation

ACE – Revenue of Rs 260 crore by March 2020, that’s 40 per cent jump in Vinay Electrical Solutions’ revenue figures year-on-year, how did you make it possible?

KN – I will credit the right marketing and the right product development as factors responsible behind the jump. Vinay Electrical Solutions is a 50 year old brand. Based on the quality of products we retail, Vinay Electrical Solutions always had the trust of the people. Three years back, we decided to educate people about what we have been doing since last 50 years. It was tough to extend the product portfolio beyond wiring devices but we were sure of doing that. Once we started working on product development and R&D, our aim of foraying into the home automation market started taking shape.

Vinay Electrical Solutions’ home automation wing has been getting a good response from the market. We understood the demands of modern day consumers and worked on giving the control of devices they use in their hands. Not only premium home automation, we are also working on facilitating consumers with affordable home automation offerings in India.

In a nutshell, foraying into the home automation market and enabling consumers with power to control devices using IoT has facilitated a big jump for us. We always wondered about the future of wiring devices, and today we count ourselves as one organisation that is helping consumers enable smart control of the devices they use, the future of consumer electronics!

ACE – So, foraying into the home automation market has been the game changer for you?

KN – Yes, people have been talking a lot about IoT and home automation. Consumers like to talk about it, they like to experience it first hand, ask questions and explore smart features more and more. The adoption of home automation products among consumers is on a sharp rise as well. However, along with home automation, we have also pushed in, in the other categories we are present in. Home automation products complementing our other range of products have been a game changer for us.

We started making improvements over the smallest of things and realised how important it is to have an excellent product development team. Continuous R&D and the new found ability to educate existing consumers and new consumers about home automation and our other product ranges has been the game changer for us. My acedemic background, a Masters in Business Administration and an Engineering degree has also made it quite easy for me to understand the branding as well as the technical side of our business.

ACE – You are aiming for Rs 500 crore revenue in 2022. What’s your strategy to achieve this?

KN – Product development around the home automation sector is one of the key areas where we intend to work upon for enabling this growth. Vinay Electrical Solutions has already launched home automation products in the premium category. The next step is to make home automation accessible at affordable prices. We also have other smart products in the pipeline.

In terms of branding, we have already started working on creating awareness among the consumers. People know us as a brand already but the kind of work we do and the new portfolios we have forayed into are some things that we are keen on educating consumers. Excellent products and services clubbed with branding is our way forward. We are also expanding our retail presence by signing up new channel partners.

ACE – Home automation, as you said, is a key vertical for Vinay Electricals. Is India ready for the home automation wave?

Kunal – Home automation is a critical market particularly in a developing market like India. The average age of India’s population is comparatively younger than a lot of other markets. We are gunning towards it because we know that the acceptability for IoT and smart features is much more in India than developed countries.

We are expecting home automation to grow much faster than a lot of other categories in the next five years. Home automation products currently contribute around eight per cent to our revenue figures. Five years down the line we expect this contribution to be much beyond this point. Our aim is to automate more than one million homes in the near future.

ACE – You mentioned about the expansion and signing up of new trade partners. How important are these aspects?

Kunal – You ask any brand about the importance of trade partners and these will always be the top priority. No matter how good the products we create are or how excellent the services we offer, without trade partners we will never be able to reach our audience.

Retail shops and electricians have been our strength from day one. In fact, I call these two as our influencers. These two have to believe in our products more than we do. Electricians and retail shop owners are a critical part of the overall R&D process we follow. In addition to our consumers, we always turn to these two for feedback.

ACE – Where, in terms of trade channel, are you strongest in? What sales and channel model do you follow?

Kunal – We have been very strong in the western part of India. Vinay Electrical Solutions is now growing in the north and eastern markets. These two regions have contributed strong numbers to our business in the last two years.

However, these two regions come with enormous potential and we have only explored the tip of the iceberg. Vinay Electrical Solutions is also in the process of signing up trade partners in the South Indian market. Our next expansion phase focuses on signing new trade partners in the east, north and southern parts of India.

ACE – What’s the criteria you look into a potential trade partner?

KN – The first and foremost thing is goodwill followed by the enthusiasm to invest in a new category. Home automation is one of the fastest growing markets and it is necessary for trade partners to understand the ins and outs of it. If somebody from the trade channel is ready to embrace new technology, we would love to have a discussion with them.

ACE – Why should someone from a trade channel join Vinay Electrical Solutions network? What’s in house for them?

KN – Channel sales and trade partners have been our strength from the very beginning. Regular meets with trade partners and dealers are a must for us. We listen to them and try to incorporate as many changes suggested by them as possible.

Next in line comes the education part. Vinay Electrical simply does not leave products at a dealer’s or retailer’s premises but it also educates about them. We understand that our trade partners have to have a better understanding of our products in order to be able to educate consumers about them.

ACE – You mentioned about the role of electricians in your success. Please throw some more light.

KN – Electricians are key influencers for us. They install products in homes on an everyday basis. While consumers always have the final say in the brand and product they are interested in, electricians always suggest what product will suit their needs best.

The goodwill of electricians allows them to connect with consumers directly and they earn this goodwill by suggesting the right products. We explain our products to them and leave the decision on them to make. Vinay Electrical Solution also helps electricians get certified through various programs. We generally gather 15 to 20 electricians at one time and educate them about how they can upgrade themselves and work smarter.

We have also created an app specifically for electricians. If an electrician is buying any product from the Vinay Electrical Solutions portfolio, he can scan the code of the product onto the app and redeem points for the same. Electricians can also get specific amounts transferred to their Paytm or bank accounts by using this app.

Author – Mukul Yudhveer Singh. An avid reader, Mukul finds peace in books and technology. He’s as passionate about writing as he is about cricket and Playstation. If not writing or reading, you will most likely find him drawing tattoo designs or analyzing political campaigns.

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