Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer
“We have been spearheading the buying and the selling of pre-owned vehicles and equipment. Through our Automalls, we have given the buyers and the sellers a unique platform where they can conduct transactions with absolute transparency. Our customers not only take a look at wide array of equipment and vehicles but also test, inspect and bid for the same. Shriram has constantly been in the expansion mode, which will definitely be the mantra in the times to come. We are now planning to expand our market strength and volumes and launch two Automalls one each in Cuttack and Pathankot this March. By the end of this year we envisage 60 Automalls across the nation.” avers Mr. Sameer Malhotra, CEO of Shriram Automall India Ltd. (SAMIL), in an interview with S D Khan.

Could you please start with a company profile of Shriram as an industrial auctioneer?
SAMIL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shriram Transport Finance Company (STFC), was established in 2011. SAMIL has pioneered the concept of Automall which is a platform for buying and selling pre-owned industrial equipment by the way of organised and transparent auctions. The company is headquartered in Delhi and has launched full-fledged Automalls at locations like Chennai, Baroda, Mumbai, Manesar and Aurangabad. All these Automalls are strategically located on important highways and spread over 1 to 10 acres. With secure stockyards, convenient parking facilities and full-fledged service stations to refurbish old vehicles, we also offer finance and insurance facilities to the customers. Each Automall is like a One Stop that addresses the needs of buyers and sellers with utmost transparency. Besides, Automalls, the company is also running more than 70 vehicle and equipment yards across the country.

Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer

What prompted Shriram to diversify from financing business to an auctioneer for industrial equipment?
Well, despite the mammoth usage of equipment and commercial vehicles in India, the market is highly unorganised people are not aware of the global fleet management practices. We felt that given our expertise in this segment, it's imperative that a structured approached is initiated. The idea was to create a transparent platform where fair practices are adopted. And the results are more than heartening. Our customers not only take a look at wide array of equipment and vehicles but also test, inspect and bid for the same. The bidder with the highest bid takes away the vehicle. Winning the trust of the customer has always been the core of our services.

Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer

What product range is currently auctioned and what are the company's future plans to add more industrial product lines in this basket? Please brief us about your customer profile as well.
The present product range comprises four categories: Commercial, Transport, Construction, and Agri. We are planning to add the Auto category to its range as well soon. Talking of products per se, we auction a wide range of vehicles and industrial equipment. Our customer base encompasses vehicles and equipment manufacturers, dealers, banks, finance companies and end users.

Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer

What are the criteria for inspecting and evaluating the quality and price of the used machines?
It's a blend of various factors. For instance, to which year does the model belong? For how many years has it been in use? What is the condition of the engine and spare parts? Price is a direct consequence of an amalgamation of all these factors. We also ensure that every vehicle or equipment auctioned is substantiated with all the requisite documentary proofs.

How many auctions are being conducted by Shriram in a year? Are you also providing the online auction facility besides onsite?
Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer
More than 100 auctions are conducted in a month pan India. Additionally the online facility is one of our unique mediums to connect with the buyer. Although a lot of consumers do not hesitate to travel long distances to attend our auctions, there are some bidders who can't make it to the auction site. Through the online facility, a bidder can actively participate in the auctions without much fuss. The online tools are very user-friendly and enable a customer to take informed buying or selling decisions, which is called Internet selling. Another facility offered in our Automalls is the Shriram One Stop, a computerized touch screen kiosk, which is akin to a virtual vehicle bazaar. It provides real time information about all the vehicles available for sale, which is called Intranet selling. The total monthly transactions with all these different modes are approximately 10,000 machines/vehicles.

What is Shriram Automall's edge over its competitors?
We have pioneered this concept and there is no other company in the country with such holistic auction solutions. I can proudly say that we were the first ones to take cognizance of the needs of buyers and sellers. In-fact, we came to the customer rather than the customer coming to us. To be honest, Shriram has no competition whatsoever.

Are there any challenges?
Shriram Automall India Ltd : The Master Auctioneer
Training the employees and educating the public is really a challenge. We feel that it's absolutely essential that buyers and sellers of vehicles and equipment are made aware of a platform that takes care of all their needs. Since a majority of customers are semi-literate, educating them will continue to be our prime focus.

What impact has the recent economic slowdown had on Shriram as the company deals with various industries and sectors?
The recession is more a hype than a reality. The country continues to witness booming infrastructure and allied activities. As far as our business is concerned, Shriram has been constantly in the expansion mode and this will be the mantra in the times to come. The only point of concern is the constantly fluctuating price of machinery due to the market trends. But India is too huge a market to be impacted by these transient hiccups.

How do you see the industrial auction business in India and what's your agenda for the next 2-3 years?
It's only an upward curve considering the huge equipment market in the country. Be it construction, agriculture or transport more machines are being deployed and will continue to be deployed. It is a good sign for Shriram as we are now planning to expand our market strength and volumes and are going to launch two Automalls one each in Cuttack and Pathankot this March. By the end of this year we envisage 60 Automalls across the nation.
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