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  • RS Components and IBM Cloud establish innovation partnership with DesignSpark Marketplace

    RS Components launches DesignSpark Marketplace with IBM Cloud to accelerate design and market testing for small businesses and makers

    London, UK, 7 June 2018 - RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), a global multi-channel distributor, has embarked on an innovation journey with IBM (NYSE: IBM) to transform into a technology-led organisation. As an 80-year-old business with a proud heritage, RS’ mission is to stay relevant and bring the best experiences to its customers. As part of that core focus, the beta version of RS’ new digital community platform, DesignSpark Marketplace, has launched on the IBM Cloud.

    Created via an agile Design Thinking process in the IBM Cloud Garage in London, DesignSpark Marketplace enables makers, start-ups and small businesses to promote, test and sell their inventions to an online community of more than 650,000 members. Working with IBM, RS acted with the speed of a start-up and the industrial scale of an enterprise to combine key skills, technologies and agile innovation methods to build engagement both internally and with end users. 

    RS wanted to build on the success of its original platform, DesignSpark, to build a peer-to-peer marketplace. Working in the London IBM Cloud Garage, one of 12 physical hubs within IBM’s global Garage network, RS brought together critical stakeholders to work alongside IBM design and technology experts to create a compelling, collaborative user experience, and delivered a beta, production-ready platform in just four weeks. The project was anchored by the IBM Cloud Garage Method, a unique and agile approach to building with IBM Cloud and the technologies it delivers.

    Powered by IBM Cloud technologies such as the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, IBM Cloud Object Storage and data services such as MySQL and Elasticseach, DesignSpark Marketplace connects makers with content to learn from their peers. It provides free CAD software to create new products and inventions such as Pi-Top, a laptop kit created to support STEM learning, and addresses a key challenge faced by inventors: getting products to market. The platform helps overcome this obstacle by enabling makers to produce and sell products, which can be used by other inventors and big thinkers to further build innovation.

    “The launch of DesignSpark Marketplace marks a step-change in a promising and innovative journey for both IBM and RS Components,” says Andy Stanford Clark, IBM UKI CTO. “By combining the experience of two long-standing organisations, we can focus on using breakthrough technologies and design techniques to create the most compelling experience for RS Components’ customers. DesignSpark Marketplace is an exciting landmark, and a platform built in the IBM Cloud Garage to foster collaborative innovation to truly allow makers to kickstart their inventions and ideas.”

    IBM is continuing to carve a unique position in the cloud by opening up access to capabilities that encourage innovation and collaboration. Deployed on the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, the DesignSpark Marketplace utilises a broad suite of IBM Cloud services to easily integrate and run the new online community within RS’s existing digital presence, as well as augment it with third party components through an open and agile architecture. Potential sellers can now list any product created, and users can register for free on the platform to buy and sell new creations, fostering a new way for makers to collaborate creatively. Whether a hobbyist or a business, DesignSpark Marketplace supports projects related to electronics and 3D printing – whether ‘add-on boards’ or kits to use with popular single-board computers like Raspberry Pi or Arduino, or other standalone creative projects.

    “Together with IBM, we have built an innovative solution that enables inventors, from hobbyists to small businesses, to list their products, and then promote them to a wide audience,” says Alex von Schirmeister, Chief Innovation Officer at RS. “We are focusing on solving one of the biggest challenges today for makers, engineers and entrepreneurs - getting new products and creations in front of potential customers and testing the market before committing their design to mass production. In the long term, we are looking forward to an innovation partnership with IBM, expanding our work and combining our expertise and experience to drive even more compelling user experiences and to bring the best out of our maker and entrepreneur community.”

    The launch of DesignSpark Marketplace marks the latest milestone for the partnership between IBM and RS to intersect technology and agile development processes to build innovative new projects, encourage entrepreneurship and differentiate competitively.

    About IBM Cloud Garage
    For every business and across any industry, the IBM Cloud Garage Method can be adopted to deliver ideas faster. The aim is to not only speed up the process, but to iteratively perfect it and make it repeatable. To do so, IBM Cloud Garage teams create personas to understand user pain points, define the right cloud strategy and tools, rank backlogs to deliver a minimum viable product, build user experience prototypes, and validate with users. As IBM expands its footprint, the IBM Cloud Garage in Munich, located inside the Watson IoT headquarters, opened in April and is the 12th Cloud Garage in our global network, bringing IBM’s strengths in cloud, agile tools, blockchain, data and AI to the region.

    About RS Components
    RS Components and Allied Electronics & Automation are the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel distributor. We offer more than 500,000 industrial and electronics products, sourced from over 2,500 leading suppliers, and provide a wide range of value-added services to over one million customers. With operations in 32 countries, we ship more than 50,000 parcels a day.

    Electrocomponents is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the last financial year ended 31 March 2018 had revenues of £1.71bn.

    For more information, please visit the website at www.rs-online.com.


    Notes to Editors
    DesignSpark Marketplace was built on the ShareTribe base product and modified to suit the designs produced by the IBM Garage and the extra functionality required by RS. The following IBM Cloud technologies were integrated with this base:

    • Kubernetes - Used to host and manage the docker images for each runtime.
    • MySQL - The database used to back the website. Contains listing information, customer information, transaction information, email and most of the configurable text used across the site.
    • ElasticSearch - Used to replace the search functionality across the site. Chosen to avoid the need to provision an extra container in Kubernetes just for search.
    • SendGrid - Used for sending emails from the site; on sign up, during the purchases flow, and when users send each other messages.
    • Cloud Object Storage - Used for the site images and the images uploaded by sellers on their products.
    • Redis - Used for caching from the server to make the site as fast as possible by reducing client-server roundtrips.
    • Availability Monitoring - Used to monitor site downtime and loading times and alert in case of issues.
    • Continous Delivery - Used to enable the DevOps pipeline so that code changes can be automatically run through build, test and deploy.

    There were also external integrations with RS to enable advertisements and to use DesignSpark's login, as well as Paypal and Stripe for taking payments.