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Passion in telecom devices sparks business success

Swap Asia focuses on bringing value-added services to retailers, manufacturers, and mobile operators.

Swap Asia Group came to be via need for services, support in distribution

ANDY Tan has always been passionate about telecommunication devices, even during the early days of oversized phones, the size of a one-litre water bottle.

With a love of telecommunication devices and an entrepreneurial heart, he started his mobile business in 1994 as a telecommunication retailer in Puchong, Selangor.

As a telecommunication retailer, he noticed a lack of services from his distribution partners supplying telecommunications devices.

Traditionally, distributors have been box movers with no added value services or support to their customers and manufacturers.

That inspired him to start his distribution business in 1998, focusing on bringing value-added services to retailers and manufacturers.

With that passion, he secured distribution rights for Sagem, Philips, Mitsubishi and Motorola.

In June 2006, he went into a joint venture with Brightstar Logistics Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of Brightstar Corp and in less than five years, he grew the business from 10 to over 200 employees and obtained distribution rights for BlackBerry and HTC.

He also secured a long-term procurement and supply, forward and reverse logistics contract with a leading operator in Malaysia.

In 2014, he secured the Apple iPhone and iPad distribution rights in Malaysia, successfully implemented a supply chain fulfilment contract with a leading operator in Malaysia, and introduced Malaysia’s first trade-up and device protection services for an operator.

In just ten years, Tan drove the company from a multi-million ringgit revenue company to a multi-billion ringgit one and successfully powered the industry’s first device annual upgrade programme in Malaysia with an operator.

2021 marked another milestone for Tan when he acquired 51% equity interest in Brightstar Malaysia Group of Companies, making it a 100% local Malaysian entity and renaming it to Swap Asia Group of Companies.

Even today, the company, which began its distribution business in 2005, continues to innovate and adapt to the demand of the digital age.

One of the biggest challenge during the acquisition was the accumulation of a number of “legacy” applications built on technologies that—although not outdated—were harder to maintain due to the complexity and effort to support changes, as well as the increasing scarcity of skilled developers.

A decision was made to use “low code” or “no code” technology, which is a visual approach to software development that enables faster delivery of applications through minimal hand-coding.

The main advantages of using low code include flexibility to cover new requirements, low learning curve for new employees and compliance with security requirements.

Tan continues to drive his passion and ideas outside of Malaysia, with regional offices in Singapore, Taiwan and will continue to grow within the Asia region.

Swap Asia Group brings expertise and technology platforms into the supply chain fulfilment and distribution environment providing consultation, management and automation of businesses.

It is also the distributor of Apple products, Harman Kardon, XGIMI and Zens in Malaysia.

Tan drove the company from a multi-million ringgit revenue company to a multi-billion ringgit one.

Originally published in The Star