Excel and grow with a CTO in your pocket

By Jill Arul

For forward-looking companies like bathroom and kitchenware retailer, Asia Excel, digitization began long before the pandemic with the rise of e-commerce platforms. However, even with a successful online presence and nearly two decades of industry experience, Asia Excel continues to face challenges when it comes to integrating digital solutions across various platforms to drive growth.

To make the digital switchover simple and sustainable, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has introduced the Director of Technology as a Service (CTO-as-a-Service) to provide SMBs with the confidence and convenience to go digital. With CTO-as-a-Service, SMBs can choose from a variety of cost-effective, market-proven solutions, backed by reliable vendors, as well as access to a pool of experienced digital consultants.

In this article, find out how Mr. Ray Rajagopal, founder of Asia Excel, intends to exploit the opportunities offered by IMDA to continue his company’s digitization efforts and go international.

Take the first digital step

Blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age, Mr. Rajagopal founded Asia Excel just over a year after completing his national service in the early 2000s. not yet an important part of running a business. Naturally, Mr. Rajagopal would not need to think about it until more than a decade later.

In 2015, when an e-commerce platform contacted Mr. Rajagopal, he was hesitant to get into e-commerce. He was comfortable with his store and didn’t expect to gain much from an online presence.

“At first, I didn’t think anyone would buy bathroom and kitchen products online.”

Proving him wrong in the most wondrous way, sales started to pick up and the company enjoyed great success online which was then further boosted by the pandemic and the boom in online shopping. In fact, Asia Excel has been the largest online home appliance store on two popular e-commerce platforms for four years. Today, online sales represent 80% of the company’s total sales.

The path to follow

Before going digital, Mr. Ray Rajagopal and his team had to manually process many orders and track a large number of SKUs across six warehouses.

However, while going online allowed the business to thrive, it also brought new challenges to the team as they began to face labor constraints. Interestingly, due to these constraints, they were still uncertain when it came to implementing new digital solutions beyond e-commerce, not realizing that digital solutions could help solve their problems.

Specifically, the company was struggling to manually process orders from multiple online and offline sales channels, as well as track more than 1,300 unique SKUs across six warehouses.

“We soon realized that labor and time constraints were not barriers to digitization, but rather reasons for us to go digital,” Mr. Rajagopal said. “Such digital solutions could help us streamline our processes and save time and hours of work.”

With this shift in mindset, Mr. Rajagopal completed a digital readiness self-check through CTO-as-a-Service and gained a better understanding of his company’s current digital capabilities. He was also able to explore solutions to solve the main problems of his business.

Above all, thanks to CTO-as-a-Service, Mr. Rajagopal received the help of a digital consultant. She pointed him towards two omnichannel digital solutions that could prove useful in improving both efficiency and customer service.

“I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first. I didn’t think the consultant would fully understand our business. But again, I was pleasantly surprised – the consultant spent a lot of time and effort to review our business pain points and develop a digital solution and training roadmap to meet our business needs and support our plans to venture into foreign markets.

Additionally, as the company increasingly adopts digital solutions and its online presence grows, the digital consultant also offered Mr. Rajagopal advice on cybersecurity and data protection, laying the groundwork. future digital growth.

Currently, Mr. Rajagopal and his team are in the process of receiving project management assistance from the digital consultant for the implementation of the end-to-end solution, ensuring a smooth transition from manual operations to integrated management inventory across all sales channels.

Become a digital success

Rajagopal believes that with the help of the solutions advocated by CTO as a service, Asia Excel could potentially significantly reduce processing time.

During peak periods, the company could receive 500 orders which would take three days to process. In the future, it might only take 30 minutes. Staff who were previously busy manually processing orders could also be redeployed to customer service functions to better meet the growing demands of Asia Excel customers.

Since conquering the virtual world of e-commerce and overcoming major challenges with digital solutions, the Asia Excel team has been determined to expand overseas. Currently, Mr. Rajagopal and his team are developing virtual showrooms with the help of IMDA to share their products with the world.

“Before CTO-as-a-Service, we tried to expand overseas, but the barriers to entry were high. Now our goal is to first digitize all our processes locally, stabilize and duplicate this success abroad, with the aim of not even having to open a physical office abroad.

By facilitating the process of going digital, IMDA’s CTO-as-a-Service allayed Mr. Rajagopal’s initial fears and hesitations. With the help of CTO-as-a-Service, Mr. Rajagopal and his team are now confident that they can leverage digital solutions to address major challenges and lay the foundation for growth.

Want to take the next step in your digital journey? find how CTO as a service can help you!

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