10 years of online sales at TIM SA

On 15 July 2013, TIM’’s range officially made its e-commerce debut. It was a real revolution in the Polish electrical engineering distribution industry. After a decade, TIM holds the position of the B2B e-commerce leader in Poland and is constantly developing online. 

For 10 years, almost 130,000 unique customers have placed more than 4.6 million orders with a total value of approximately PLN 5.7 billion through TIM.pl. In doing so, they bought around 227,400 different products.

In parallel, TIM is developing alternative online sales channels. Manufacturers, importers or other online retailers can add their products to the TIM.pl range. Online sellers can also integrate with TIM’s product base by introducing them to their e-commerce ranges.

From inception to change of the business model

Online sales at TIM SA initially launched on the subdomain, sklep.TIM.pl, after several weeks of testing for a closed group of customers. As of mid-July 2013, online shopping at TIM could be done by everyone – both business and individual customers. The main target group was the former, and TIM’s first and most important objective was to convince them of the very idea of online shopping.

“We started with the perhaps unsophisticated slogan “…because it’s cheaper on the Internet”, but for our existing customers this was a very important argument. It was supposed to convince them that because of the price, but also the breadth of the range, it is worthwhile, usually for the first time in their lives, to order electrical goods online,” recalls Krzysztof Folta, CEO of TIM SA.

The electrical engineering distribution industry in Poland at the time was based on stationary electrical engineering wholesalers, where the customer first placed an order with a salesperson, only to pick up the goods at the warehouse a dozen or so minutes later. This is also how TIM has operated for more than 25 years, since the company’s establishment in 1987.

The launch of TIM.pl marked a change in TIM’s business model, but after the launch of e-commerce, customers could and still can benefit from the experience, knowledge and technical advice of TIM’s employees if they need it. If, on the other hand, they have strictly defined needs, have the relevant knowledge or simply place recurring orders, they can easily buy on TIM.pl themselves.

Technology and demography

The launch of online sales in 2013 meant the imminent closure of local warehouses and the transfer of storage of the entire range to a single logistics centre, from which the goods are shipped to the address specified by the customer. From the customer’s perspective, this resulted in access to a much wider range of products at attractive price terms, but also in waiting up to 24 hours for delivery of an order placed online. For smaller installers, who often got orders with a tight deadline, this meant that they either had to plan their purchases in advance or look for another electrical distributor so that they could have the goods from their local warehouse the same day. For many customers, the need to break down the mental barriers associated with buying online was also an issue.

“We reckoned that some of them would leave. However, we knew that technology and demographics were on our side. We actually educated some of the more mature customers in digital terms, convincing them of e-commerce. For the younger generations, the internet and online buying were natural. The most important argument to gain and maintain their trust was access to the widest product range on the market. Over time, we saw that our customers also value other things,” notes Krzysztof Folta.

Everything you need

99% of buyers on TIM.pl are business customers – professionals in the electrical industry: most often electrical installers, owners of electrical shops and wholesalers (resellers) or those involved in maintenance. Their most important resource is time. Hence TIM’s mission, presented with the new business strategy in 2022: “’Making life easy for professionals”. Obviously, the product range is a key element that determines competitive advantage, but we cannot stop there.

“We are consistently transforming TIM.pl into a true electrical engineering centre for professionals, where they can find unique, valuable and comprehensive content on the products we offer. They can also get technical support or share their knowledge or experiences of using the products. Hence the presence in the TIM.pl ecosystem of the social network “Łączy nas napięcie”, which not only dynamically increases the number of users, but also regularly wins in prestigious competitions. In 2023 alone, the Performance Marketing Diamonds EU and Golden Arrow statuettes got into our hands,” says Piotr Nosal, member of the Management Board and commercial director of TIM SA.

The 10 years that have passed since TIM started selling online can be seen not only in the completely different look and layout of TIM.pl. The function of this website also changed. It is no longer just a place to find products, put them in a cart and order them. TIM.pl offers hundreds of guidance articles, online consultations, product configurators and many other customer services.

“To quote our business strategy: “At TIM, you order easily, wait shortly and you always get everything you need: product, support and knowledge,” adds Piotr Nosal.