Lucas aftermarket thrust

Lucas Indian Service is looking at building product and service brand equity in the aftermarket.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

Specialising in the sale and service of Lucas TVS Auto Electricals and Delphi-TVS diesel fuel injection equipment, Lucas Indian Service is building a strong product and service brand equity. With the Indian auto aftermarket worth Rs.56,098 crore in FY2016-17 according to Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), the application of thrust by Lucas Indian Service (LIS) to grab a larger pie of the market should not come as a surprise. The strategy to portray itself as a one-shop stop, or a total solutions provider, should put it in good stead with the market expected to grow at 10.5 per cent to reach Rs.75,705 crore by FY2019-20. In the commercial vehicle bit of the Indian auto components market, which is estimated to be Rs.19,748 crore worth, LIS has a significant presence. Offering a wide range of products that include ignition coils and solenoid switches from Lucas-TVS, and a wide range of diesel fuel injection systems components from Delphi-TVS, the company is aiming to be predominant player.

Leveraging its experience in the Indian automotive aftermarket with the ability to cater to the changing needs of vehicle buyers and operators, LIS is also looking at Internet of Things (IoT) to track market trends. It is planning to incorporate an amount of ‘intelligence’ into its ways of working (it already has SAP connectivity). Keen to build an agile and quick responding business structure to grow, LIS is looking at building intelligence. “SAP connectivity gives us an entire spectrum of manufacturing details and facilitates effective contacts with the retailers to track the inflows and outflows. We are also capable of providing training to the aftermarket mechanics. These capabilities differentiate us from other players,” expressed Muralidharan S, President, LIS. With a distinct advantage of having a strong and wide network of authorised and genuine parts retailers, which give the customers the much needed support as well as peace of mind, LIS, according to Muralidharan, is fine-tunning its strategy to be a total solutions provider. It is training mechanics and electricians.

Expanding its retailer network from 15,000 outlets to 40,000 outlets, LIS, to overcome the challenge of last mile connectivity, will soon have 40,0000 retailers. Keen to cover the grey areas sooner than later, LIS is conducting a programme called ‘Skill the Mechanics’. To overcome the challenge of spurious parts, the company is working on creating awareness. Of the opinion that critical parts are touching spurious-free zone with the automotive aftermarket becoming more quality-conscious, Muralidharan averred, “Better quality of products reduces aftermarket demand. Increasing number of vehicles on the road makes up for the loss. This should provide good elbow room for the aftermarket.” Drawing attention to the term counterfeit, Muralidharan explained, “It is often connected to spurious spares, but such spares are not necessarily spurious. They may be of a local make and come at a discounted price because of lower overhead costs. The good part is, with various campaigns, there is an increase in sensitivity. If a locally made genuine spare part is available at less cost, and ensures safety and efficiency, buyers will go for it.”

Looking at stocking parts from other OEMs, LIS is focussed on becoming a total solutions provider. It is looking at increasing the capability to source part numbers of other OEMs. Keen to penetrate into regions that do not have many showrooms, LIS, according to Muralidharan S, is looking at tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Currently located in 1260 towns, LIS is realising more sale in small towns. “The ambience we provide to discerning customers gives them a premium feel. If we give a warranty of six months on the parts, it will further increase the confidence of the customer,” announced Muralidharan. Of the opinion that the market is moving forward with click-away service styles and technology overdrives, Muralidharan opined that the segment has to keep pace with mega trends. “Even the unorganised players are forced to fall in line,” he remarked.

LIS is keen to achieve a niche in the aftermarket space by supplying multiple parts so that the customer can associate with it as a total solutions provider. Muralidharan is aware that to stock almost every part, and to keep track of it, will require technology intervention. Beyond SAP, the company is looking at reaching the customer through devices. “A customer could book a service using his smart phone and mention the issues he is facing to get an estimate. Based on the estimate he could decide whether he should say yes or look for other options,” averred Muralidharan. With the number of vehicle models and their variants rising at a fast pace, technology will help to keep track, Muralidharan expressed. Confident that by SAP linking the spares, the salesman can simply key in the order in an app., LIS is looking at the next stage of play in the Indian auto aftermarket space. To maintain an edge, it is developing a catalogue.

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