Taking centre stage

Reseller ME speaks to industry experts to learn how channel partners can monetise the opportunities present in the peripherals market.peripherals

The peripherals market globally has gone through several curves over the last few years. In the recent past, the segment has suffered slightly, considering the overall market circumstances – declining oil prices and currency fluctuations.

According to an IDC report, the Middle East hardcopy peripherals (HCP) markets deteriorated year-on-year in both volume and value in Q1 2015. However, players in the segment are positive that with the right go-to-market strategy, the numbers will climb up.

“The market for display solutions is growing at reasonable pace and in the recent past, we have witnessed a steady stream of projects around the Middle East and Africa region,” says Vineet Sebastian, Regional Director, Philips, AOC. “This has helped us shaped our fortunes in the market and both of our monitor brands AOC and Philips have fared well enabling us a double digit growth, defying the market trends in the region.”

Another IDC report indicated that the worldwide production print market continues to show year-over-year growth in unit shipments, gaining 9.9 percent in the third quarter of 2015. According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Production Printer Tracker, unit shipments increased to approximately 10,500 units (printers and MFPs) and shipment value increased 5.9 percent to more than $1.2 billion in the same time period.

Pui Chi Li, Head of Marketing for Middle East and Africa, Xerox, says, “Consumers in the United Arab Emirates tend to be highly brand-conscious and enthusiastic early adopters of technological innovations. High disposable income levels in the country also encourage many consumers to be open to new launches such as our various digital offerings – Connect Key technology and its duplex portable scanners.  With consumers spending an increasing amount of time online, portability will be of key importance in the forecast period.”

According to Sebastian, it is very important for every channel partner to identify the growth segments in the economy and arm themselves with what customers want.

“In display solutions market, we have observed that the B2B segment has witnessed decent gains and partners should look at addressing this market. Our products offer quality technology also value for money.

“Together with AOC and Philips monitors, our product portfolio boosts the widest range of display solutions that enables a partner to scale up its offerings to its customer and I am sure any channel partner with such an ability will be able optimise their margins,” he says.

According to Johnson Yu, International Sales Director, Jide Technology, the key is to offer clients and customers differentiation through innovation. “With a software solution like Remix OS, you are able to obtain a competitive edge in two forms of innovation: technology and cost,” he says. “You have the latest operating system that expands the possibilities of mobile technology while offering traditional PC functionalities at a fraction of the cost. At the end of the day, giving the customer the best value is a primary driver for growth.”

The first aspect partners need to ensure is that they need to be convinced of the product that they are selling. Customers are seeking partners who can guide them in their digital transformation and that means, having enough knowledge to be in a position to counsel. In this regard, channel partners have the opportunity to increase their margins in this segment by focusing on value-added services.

According to Sebastian, services is definitely a very important aspect.

“This is one of the key factors in differentiating the success of channel partners. Services can allow partners to win projects and also make them stand out from the crowd. Depending on the customer requirements, partners can bundle their services along with the products.”

Xerox strongly believes that integrating technology and services into one offering to the customer is the future. Chi Li says, “This approach provides USP benefits and introduces a consultative interaction with customers driving out better margin opportunities and longevity in customer relationships as you explore ways to answer their document management needs.”

Agreeing, Yu from Jide Technology says, “Resellers can and should bundle their offering with services and we encourage such attempts to create more use cases and offerings.

“In this scenario, Jide provides the basic function or core value of the bundle and the reseller adds value to it. We will also give training and technical support to partners.”

But for partners to be able to climb the ladder and become the trusted advisor that customers are looking for, they need to work hand-in-hand with vendors.

Sebastian adds, “Vendors and channel partners needs to work closely as a team. And, also vendors should support their partners with knowledge and information that is critical to identify the real requirements of customers before offering them any product or solution. Box pushing is no longer a viable business model but understanding the customer’s need is the most important task while selling.”

Chi Li says vendors can play a key role in enabling partners identify opportunities in this market by ensuring they are a part of ideal partner programme for their business.

“For example,” she says, “the new Xerox Partner Plus Program is designed to help channel partners take advantage of current and future market opportunities by focusing on employee development and training. Identified training and learning paths for the sales people, analysts and technicians of our partners will lead to a highly-skilled workforce to better meet the needs of current and future customer demands.”

Jide makes sure partners have easy access to its resources, says Yu.

“We have our own source of leads information through our global user community and Jide keeps pace with the latest trend in the industry by our own team’s market research and sharing from strategic partners. Jide will dispatch internal periodic potential lead summarisations and also updates from our social networking accounts to partners.”

Chi Li says, “The peripherals and accessories market in the Middle East will grow significantly driven by proliferation of connected devices, increasing disposable income of consumers in urban areas in GCC and growing Internet penetration, which in turn is leading to the rising preference of consumers towards online retail in these regions.

“Increasing adoption of mobile devices among the youth in the GCC region is providing significant stimulus for growth of the electronic accessories market in the region.”

Partners need to focus on thinking outside the box to develop relevant services that add value to the customer. By constantly keeping an eye on market trends and understanding the customer’s requirements well, channel partners can optimise the opportunities present in the peripherals segment.

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