At BlueStars recently held Vartech Nordic trade show , IT Reseller caught up with Steve Cuntz, BlueStars CEO and president; Bill Nix, VP of global distribution; Alexander Stahl, president of BlueStar Europe; and Mikael Svensson, managing director of BlueStar's Nordic region, to talk about the event and the companys growing presence in Europe.
BlueStar, the global distributor of solutions-based ADC, POS, mobility, RFID and security technology, recently staged its first Baltic trade show, Vartech Nordic 2010, at the Infra City Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. This two-day event gave European value-added resellers the opportunity to discover new technology, network and explore new revenue generating models within its target markets. Over 350 manufacturers, resellers and independent software vendors attended the show, which featured activities such as one-on-one hardware and software demonstrations in BlueStars CodeZone, and a series of Think workshops detailing the latest trends and opportunities, together with a number of proven and effective marketing strategies.
BlueStars workshop titled Create Your Own Corporate Video was one of the most popular sessions, giving VARs the chance to take advantage of BlueStars technical resources. Steve Cuntz explained that the main raison d'tre of the show was to provide a setting for resellers and manufacturers to develop new relationships and learn about the latest technologies available in order to further promote business growth in Europe.
BlueStars European arm comprises teams in three main regions; Central, Southern and Northern. Mikael Svensson and Alexander Stahl highlighted the fact that through the acquisitions of German-based PSD-PrintScan, ADC Nordic a distributor serving all of Scandinavia and the most recently acquired Spain-based Impuls ID Distribution BlueStar rapidly established the services and resources required to firmly establish its presence in these territories. These resources are backed up with in-country technical and local language support as well as in-country inventory.
Cuntz reflected that there were several reasons why BlueStar first came to Europe, having already established major success States-side. The number one reason was simply because we were invited, he remarked. Several of the VARs picked up the phone and said would you have any interest in being my partner. Then, Alexander Stahl called me with a business proposal, after which he and I had several discussions, and from which point things progressed very quickly in Europe; initially through the acquisition of PSD-PrintScan. The company is now also looking to further increase its presence in the UK. Great Britain is probably the best retail market in the world, and it also has a large hospitality sector indeed, other than New York I cant think of another city that has so many visitors every year, said Cuntz.
Svensson commented that despite 2009 being a challenging year, every BlueStar region in Europe achieved double-digit growth, while BlueStar in central Europe established 350 new resellers serving all of its partner manufacturers. This, he says, has been achieved through the expertise of the regional sales team and its valuable local knowledge, together with the use of BlueStar toolsets adapted for the European market. Bill Nix explained that the toolbox of marketing concepts was put together by BlueStars Mark Fraker and his marketing team. This toolbox allows our regions to function as marketing-driven solutions suppliers, he said. Were going out into the market with reasons for VARs to come to us to drive business to them. Nix explained that a key part of this toolbox is the BlueStar Fusion plan, which was demonstrated to VARs at Vartech Nordic.
Through the use of the Fusion toolset, a business-development campaign can be designed, launched and managed efficiently. The Fusion programme is designed for business development of hardware, software and service products, either individually or bundled together. Every one of our regions is now driving new business and new channels using Fusion in as part of their marketing strategy, Nix pointed out.
Seizing the opportunity
BlueStars proactive marketing approach is also manifest in the way the company seizes opportunities related to changing market requirements. For example, we can highlight legal compliance obligations within certain end-user vertical sectors, and in so doing secure more business for our VAR network, said Cuntz. One instance is in Sweden where all point-of-sale data will soon have to be collected on a hard storage system. So rather than simply wait for this to happen Mikaels team has got together with some of the manufacturers and come up with ways to allow dealers in point of sale to benefit. And instead of retailers having to buy an entirely new POS system we have some products that can connect to a legacy installation at a very nominal price; and in compliance with Swedish law. So with this type of approach you could think of us as hunters rather than farmers; we dont wait for the corn to grow. We say lets go out and find those retailers in different regions that might not even be aware there are local compliance issues they should know about.
BlueStar also recognises some marked advantages in its status as a private company. We dont have to make stockbrokers happy, said Cuntz, while Nix explained that 100 per cent of every marketing dollar the company receives from suppliers is spent on marketing. In fact we actually add about 50 cents on the dollar to the marketing budget, he said. We have 55 marketing people around the world, most of whom are funded by the manufacturers. This is one of the reasons why we feel we have a real edge in our marketplace.