Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

June 25, 2020

CEW Anju Sonnepar 400

By Blake Marchand

Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario Region! Anju has more than 15 years of experience as a marketing expert, which includes running an independent agency working with a multitude of businesses in various industries and geographies from around the globe. 

With a passion for reinvention and finding success through a commitment to education and innovation, Anju has utilized her exceptional creativity and business acumen to engineer seamless brand experiences, while strategically increasing awareness and profits for companies such as Microsoft Canada, Aldo, SGS, and many more. 

Anju recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions about her career, new position, and to discuss her thoughts on our industry.

So, Anju…

What has the transition been like, particularly considering the situation brought on by the pandemic?

“Fortunately, my experience includes doing a lot of remote work for international clients, so it wasn’t a huge transition to continue to work from home. It's been good.”

Given the eclectic nature of her previous agency work and ability to learn and adapt her expertise, Anju says the transition has been fairly easy and that ultimately the challenge is the same regardless of industry; “The need to know where the market is now, especially with COVID-19, is very important. It becomes imperative in understanding how competitors are dealing with the circumstances and more importantly, what the opportunities are,” she said.

Career progression and evolution

“I wanted to check out what I could accomplish on my own,” she said of her decision to start her own business.

“I started my agency doing graphic design work, which eventually developed into creating content, and then digital marketing. My business soon grew into offering digital transformational solutions; this included designing custom EPR (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions and software linking the marketing side of things, inclusive of e-commerce websites, logistics, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools, etc.,” she explained. 

“Initially, I catered to small Canadian businesses,” Anju stated, noting that a lot of agencies traditionally focus on larger companies. She continued, “I saw a need for small and medium enterprise solutions – and, as a result, I worked on a lot of exciting projects from cosmetics and life-science to mining and technology…I’ve touched a lot of different industries,” something that has helped her transition smoothly into her role at Sonepar. 

Anju has approached her new position just as she would any other client, starting with a complete market analysis… 

Marketing in the electrical industry

“One of my first tasks, before I do any sort of marketing initiative, is to know what the lay of the land is. So, we completed a market analysis of Sonepar as an electrical distributor within Ontario, as well as Canada (to see where the opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses are). Marketing has changed…it’s not just, ‘Hey! Here’s a flyer!’ Marketing now goes hand in hand with technology.”

Anju explained that about two years into starting her business, the industry began to turn “seriously” digital; “Marketing and business have to come together, in pace with technology. In this day and age, we have so much information, if you’re not keeping up, you’re going to be left behind. One of the things Sonepar has been amazing at is creating digital transformation solutions within the company.”

Sonepar has an online shop, designed to make ordering easier for clients, but even more exciting for Anju is their backend, “Sonepar’s CRM tool, the logistics tool… is all linked together so the accuracy for product availability and prices is around 98%! That can only be achieved if you have good products and solutions in place. And of course, people to execute it.”

“Based on the market analysis we’ve done, we have identified what our main target audience (electrical contractors) are looking for from a distributor or a manufacturer.” Stemming from that research, a major focus is product knowledge education, “The way buying is happening right now, is that consumers want a one-stop-shop, they don’t want to deal with 20 people. Electrician’s who may be specialized in certain aspects, now have to be diversified in their understanding of what they can offer. As a result, they have to be able to differentiate themselves in the market and need to adapt to this new environment.”

“What do they need? They need new information, product availability, and prices. We have a great advantage here because we speak to the manufacturers directly, we have the opportunities to provide this information. In addition to product availability, quality, and price, I know there are opportunities for us to create better relationships with electrical contractors.”

Relationship building in this context will be a key focus for Anju. On the marketing side of things, it comes down to building on the digital tools Sonepar has in place. That means, “Beefing up the current e-commerce platform we have, targeting our audiences directly with a refined understanding of what their requirements are and providing the solutions they are looking for.”

Advice for others

We also asked Anju about being a woman in a male-dominated industry, something she brushed off confidently, saying, “That’s life for me.” 

Her advice for young women, "Be honest about what you want, be confident in who you are and don't be afraid to take chances. Know that sometimes you will win and sometimes you will fail and be ok with both. The only thing worse is knowing you settled for less." She also added, "Mostly, know you will have to work harder. The best thing you can do for yourself and your teams...become a subject matter expert." 

Something that has been echoed by other women in the industry – ultimately, if you know your stuff the opportunities will be there, and you will find your way into a good situation.

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