ThunderMatch offers ease of access to tech seekers
Much time has passed since the early days of technology, when buyers of tech had to travel all the way to Imbi Plaza in the heart of KL to feed their technological needs. Today, mega-IT stores have opened in so many places that venues abound.
Players such as ThunderMatch Technologies (TMT) grew from single shoplot outlets to having brances all over Malaysia. Currently boasting a chain of over 90 stores, TMT is one of the biggest the biggest tech retail outlet in the country.
As with all things, it began small. TMT founder and managing director Adrian Yu first tried his hand at the game though his PC reselling business even while he was still studying. At the time, not many big names sold affordable PCs, so Yu bought parts from Imbi and assembled them before selling the built-up machines to university mates for affordable prices.
“It was at that time that I realized the massive potential of the market in custom built PCs. That’s when I decided to go all out and open my own store at Imbi Plaza,” said Yu. Growing from infancy, Yu’s five-man team eventually branched out into his second outlet at the same location. Thanks to his keen business acumen, TMT eventually became one of the most recognized names to go to as a one-stop IT and gadget store.
As the business boomed, TMT eventually moved its flagship store to Low Yat Plaza, occupying over 15,000 square feet of retail space. Knowing how vital it was to provide availability to customers, Yu knew he had to open shop at other locations as well.
“When I was considering other locations, one of my first thoughts was to look towards major malls across the Klang valley first. I was keen on those which already had IT-centric wings. We got major a boost when we managed to tie up with Aeon to set up stores at new Aeon malls across Malaysia,” said Yu.
Knowing also that the future was moving to mobile, Yu started working towards that area, eventually clinching a major deal with Korean giant Samsung to market its mobile products. “Our first major mobile store was very central and highly visible in the heart of the city; Suria KLCC,” said Yu. “That was our first Samsung Experience Store back in 2012,” he added.
What Yu realized from that experience was that there were few, if any, real concept stores of any brand. “We worked hard to get Samsung on-board with the idea and eventually worked out an agreement where SES would supply the Samsung inventory, while we manage the retail outlets,” said Yu.
Aside from Samsung, TMT also managed to convince other key brand owners to join into a partnership with it, citing its highly experienced retail team as a key element of success. Today, TMT works with major brands including Apple, HP and Asus in terms of customer experience stores. “Our crowning glory was when we managed our first telco breakthrough. YES (YTL Communications) agreed to work with us and that has grown into a strong partnership over the years,” said Yu.
On the flip side, Yu agrees that TMT is not immune to the challenges brought about by the plethora of online shopping sites available today. In fact, he knew it was a possible game-changer and jumped aboard with gusto. TMT now has its own online store as well (TMT.my)
“One of the main challenges in e-commerce is logistics and payment gateway issues. Speed and the ability to react is of the utmost importance in the business. While our infrastructure may not be as advanced as that of some of the other countries in the region, we have the advantage of size in aiding our efforts locally,” said Yu.
TMT.my now contributes to about 5% of TMT’s total revenue with an aim to hit 7% by end 2016. As a whole, TMT’s turnover last year was RM420 million and the forecast for 2016 is at over RM480 million.
In dealing with major brands, TMT has also managed to collaborate with Intel and Microsoft to introduce a new line of affordable gadgets; the STOM range. First products introduced include a two-in-one tablet that comes with a swivel docking keyboard and a PC stick which transforms large screen displays into a full-fledged computer.