Bilkom Embraces The Future of Technology

Bilkom was founded in 1984, when personal computers just started to crawl. The company is now getting prepared to move its 38-year-old long standing past to a future built with technology dominated by augmented reality and smart homes. We discussed the performance in the past years and future plans of the company with Bilkom General Manager Fikret Ballıkaya.

BILKOM is one of the leading brands of the technology sector in our country, and distributes products of the major brands of the technology sector directly or indirectly to more than 4 thousand different points in Turkey for 38 years, operating as one of the leading distributors of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). With a portfolio which includes global brands such as Apple, Huawei, TCL, DJI, Fitbit (Google), Alcatel, Logitech, Hypergear, Razer and Meross, the company intends to improve the quality of life through technology and make the current technology accessible.

Bilkom General Manager Fikret Ballıkaya says, “We have never designated us as merely a computer or telephone distributor,” and describes their business as “offering the latest technology to consumers in line with the digital life coach mission of the company”.

SUPPLY CHAINS

Bilkom General Manager Fikret Ballıkaya says, “The last two years are nothing like the previous periods. Numerous factors such as cyclical development, the effect of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and trade wars have been decisive in the current period. Supply chains have become extremely fragile. While we thought that selling was challenging, we also learned how difficult supply process could be”.

OUTPERFORMED THE SECTOR AVERAGE IN THE LAST THREE YEARS

Operating with sustainable profitable growth as its basic business principle, Bilkom’s revenue in TRY has increased by 33 percent on average in the last 3 years, reaching TRY 5.4 billion (US$ 627 million). Ballıkaya says that this represents a growth surpassing the sectoral average and points out the company’s performance results as follows:
“In the electronic retail industry, we are the number one distributor of smartphones, wearable accessories and tablets. As of the end of 2021, one out of every five smart phones and tablets, and one out of every four smart watches sold in electronic retail stores across Turkey were purchased from Bilkom. This reinforces our success in the electronics retail industry. Every year, we handle distribution of 2 million boxes to over 4 thousand points. We intend to strengthen our current position and continue our journey.”

In addition to Bilkom’s current activities, Ballıkaya says that they follow closely the three important trends that will shape the future. One of such trends is the smart homes and smart cities. Bilkom gives importance to be within the ‘smart home’ theme and took the first step in 2020 by entering the smart television market in cooperation with TCL. Ballıkaya underlines that they consider smart television as the center of the smart home, and that they would reinforce that with the Meross brand.

COMPUTER SALES ARE AT THE PEAK OF THE LAST DECADE

Ballıkaya says that there has been a major increase in the investment on technology hardware and software during the pandemic period and that consumer electronics is among the sectors that differentiate positively in this regard, adding, “There has been a significant demand for smartphones, tablets and laptops in Turkey as well as the world. Global computer sales have hit the peak of the last 10 years. We have also observed a great interest for IoT devices. Depending on the time spent at home, the consumer’s tendency is towards the big screen TVs. Today, one of every two TVs sold in Turkey is 50 inches and bigger. This interest has reflected positively on our TV sales.”

Ballıkaya continues: “We are entering a period where many pandemic restrictions are no longer applicable, both in Turkey and around the world, and the epidemic is gradually losing its impact. The end of such impacts which forced many companies to rapid digital transformation and skyrocketed the demand for technology has also caused changes in the expectations and projections of technology consumption. Even though this interest has lost some momentum with the end of the quarantine measures and as people return to social life, the die has already been casted.” Ballıkaya believes that this trend will continue.

DIGITAL APPLICATIONS ARE HERE TO STAY

The pandemic period has made one of its lasting impacts on the way companies carry out business . In particular, the new demands of the consumer owing to their changing shopping habits require a serious transformation in retailing. The single digit share of online shopping in total sales in the pre-pandemic period has reached 20 percent. This trend is similar also for Bilkom’s sales. Ballıkaya talks about his observations on this aspect of the sector as follows:

“Prior to the pandemic, our main business was generated at the stores. With the pandemic, as consumers turned to online shopping, we have developed projects to keep up with this trend. I believe that digital applications, among such projects, adopted by the sector and embraced by the consumer, especially for customer experience, will always be a part of our lives. It will always be important for the consumers to experience and feel the product, and to understand whether it meets their needs. The brands and stores will be successful as long as that they provide a unique experience for the consumers from the moment they enter through the door. Digital applications have entered our lives in logistics, warehousing, stock management, shelfing and many more, not only on the front office division of shopping. The digital applications will continue to be shaped on the efficiency and maximum customer satisfaction axis.”

Ballıkaya believes that they have made good use of this process as Bilkom, and explains the reflections of this on the consumers as follows: “We continue on our path with the experiences we have had in this challenging as well as educational period. We have continued our growth journey while looking from our customers’ perspective, improving our business skills, and making sure to establish authentic and transparent communication with all our stakeholders, especially our employees . We have focused on differentiation in the sector with our main business philosophy, which we define as Bilkom Plus and which envisage creating ‘added value’ to everyone we contact with . There is also the business partners aspect of our operations . We treat them in accordance with our ‘Consultant Partner’ approach. We do not regard ourselves merely a distributor that only distributes products, we offer customer-oriented services for mutual benefits. While we prepare the market for brands that do not have an organization in Turkey and lack representation in our country until now, we also contribute to their business growth by providing 360-degree brand management services. The omni-channel solutions or the projects such as Lonca Market and dropshipment which we have already launched or are developing are among the initiatives that we intensively focus on this area with our business partners.”

WE WILL EXPORT TO MORE COUNTRIES

Bilkom’s future innovation focus includes regional expansion, domestic production, online channels, omni-channel distribution and service sales. The company will also continue its investments in the international award-winning indoor marketplace ‘Lonca Market’, which is launched as one of its online innovation projects .

As part of the domestic production focus, Ballıkaya says that they will assess television and smart phone production investments and new production opportunities as manufacturer-distributor, explaining their plans for service and export as follows:
“Last year, we took the first steps in our overseas expansion initiatives to the regional countries and achieved productive results. Our high priority goals include increasing the number of countries we export to and expanding the geographical footprint of Bilkom. In line with our value added and focused distributorship approach, we are working on cooperations with new brands in order to develop our digital and mobile life-oriented product portfolio with strong brands on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Communication Technologies (ICT). While we intend to increase our market share and sales with the new investments and cooperations, we will reinforce our service quality and our consultant-partner approach. As we ensure that the consumers are introduced to and feel the ‘Bilkom Assurance’ closer, we will step up gear and continue our business at a faster pace as a brand that responds to the needs and demands of consumers in sales and after sales.”

WEARABLE DEVICES, TECHNOLOGICAL IMPLANTS AND AUGMENTED REALITY WILL STEER THE FUTURE

According to Ballıkaya, wearable devices, smart implants, drones and XR (extended reality) technology are among the categories that will shine in the coming period. Ballıkaya says, “Even though the most popular examples of wearables today are the exercise tracking bands and smart watches, the term ‘wearable’ does not necessarily refer to a device that you attach to your wrist or any part of your body”, and adds “Such products range from smart clothing such as running shoes that can measure your walk and performance, to developments such as robotic prostheses, and robotic wearable technologies used in industrial settings. As technology becomes smaller and smarter, the range of wearables will expand. New and smaller wearables will replace those we are familiar with today. Smart eyeglasses will be replaced by smart contact lenses, which will most likely be replaced by smart eye implants.”

Ballıkaya shares his views on drone and XR as follows: “Another product with bright future is drone, which is currently used more and more actively in many industries, from advertising and food distribution to construction and agriculture. Also, extended reality (XR) that combines virtual reality and augmented reality will offer people exciting new ways to experience the world surrounding them. I am certain that the aforesaid technologies will be used more to increase brand loyalty, enable customers to try the product before they buy, improve customer service, increase effectiveness of workplace learning and improve other organizational processes.”

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