Putting the VAR first

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IT Reseller spoke with ScanSource Europes managing director, Xavier Cartiaux, about how the company continues to develop and enhance its service offerings to its VAR partner network.
ScanSource Europe has always been recognised as a value-added distributor that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what it can offer to its VAR partner network. One manifestation of this strategy could be seen during 2009 in the companys continuing commitment to invest in its business; maintaining inventory levels and giving its VAR customers access to the credit needed to secure business and growth opportunities. It also strengthened its vendor portfolio by taking on board a new manufacturer partner, LXE. In addition, ScanSource added employees in critical areas; one example of which was the appointment of a business development manager for Poland.
Access to information is key
Access to information is key in our industry and last year we made a point of delivering to our resellers the information they need to grow, said ScanSource Europes Xavier Cartiaux. We did this online, via our How To Make It Happen training portal, which collects educational materials from different vendors into one single location. We also did this with our eCatalogue, producing a downloadable product resource that resellers could view at their convenience. We even came to resellers in person with our pan-European Partner Tour. These events brought local resellers, vendor in-country teams and ScanSource Europe account managers together in one place for a day of education and valuable networking opportunities. In fact, our Partner Tour events welcomed over 1000 attendees, bringing the ScanSource message and the vendors products directly to resellers across Europe. In addition, we translated our website into Polish, Czech and Hungarian, building a portal for resellers in Eastern Europe and making sure information was accessible to all. Also, at a corporate level, ScanSource Inc. achieved further recognition, being named one of the Worlds Most Admired Companies by Fortune and making Forbess Best Big Companies list.
2009 also saw ScanSource increase its foothold in the communications market. We followed up on our acquisition of MTV Telecom in 2008 by expanding into continental Europe with the purchase of Algol Europe, a value-added distributor specialising in convergence and communications solutions, explained Cartiaux. Algol, headquartered in Cologne, Germany, has been re-branded as ScanSource Communications GMBH, and joins ScanSource Communications UK as part of ScanSource Communications Europe. ScanSource Communications now distributes vendors like 3Com, APC, Avaya, Extreme Networks, Juniper, LifeSize and Trapeze in the DACH area.
Important channel opportunity
While ScanSource Europe has been investing heavily in the communications side of the business and while it has continued to see major opportunities there, its autoID focus remains as strong as ever. The business units are operated separately from a sales, product management and technical point of view, with account managers specialised in one technology. Thats the only way to guarantee expertise in a solution, remarked Cartiaux. We dont want to dilute our peoples knowledge, as that devalues our service commitment to our resellers. That said, there are occasions when working together can benefit both businesses, and ScanSource Europe will be joined by ScanSource Communications UK at the upcoming Partner Tour at PalmerSport an important channel opportunity for both sets of resellers.
Vertical focus
In terms of ScanSources enhancements to the service and support it now offers to VARs, the company is now putting greater focus into key vertical areas, such as healthcare. Were launching a healthcare microsite, which is going to be an important resource for resellers, said Cartiaux. Healthcare is a vertical where having the right information is critical. There is a whole host of regulations that resellers need to be aware of and these can only be found by spending considerable effort searching across a multitude of different websites. Were collecting all the relevant material into one convenient, centralised location, with the aim of making it easier for resellers to find out everything they need to know about working in the healthcare vertical. Cartiaux added that resellers who are currently not working in healthcare will find out how they can benefit from the available opportunities. Our role as a distributor and as the partner of our resellers is to help them move into a position where, through a combination of knowledge and support, they can take advantage of those opportunities and grow their business, he said.
ScanSource Europe is also working on a worldwide web networking platform tool for resellers, vendors, ISVs and affiliates. Resellers, ISVs, vendors and other users will be able to communicate and pursue partnering opportunities across geographic regions, vertical markets and different technologies. ScanSource is really playing the role of the facilitator here we get people together and make it easy for them to do business, said Cartiaux. There are plenty of opportunities out there and by connecting partners, these opportunities will become more apparent.
Moving forward
As for the future, ScanSource Europe will be translating its website into two further languages, Danish and Swedish, which will bring it to ten versions in total. It will also be taking its Partner Tour to Poland for the first time, which, coupled with the companys new business development manager, will provide it with an ideal opportunity to connect with Polish resellers. ScanSource has also taken a new approach with its printed product catalogue; slimming it down and focusing on manufacturers latest and most popular products. Taking reseller feedback into account, it also includes a greater number of product comparison matrix charts to distinguish between vendors offerings and help guide customers towards the right product. It really complements the eCatalogue, which is being updated as we speak, said Cartiaux. Theyre different tools entirely; one is not simply an online version of the other. The printed catalogue is an overview of the products we stock whats new, the bestsellers and the most important products. For a complete listing of all the products we stock, all the available configurations and the part numbers, resellers should use the catalogue.
Cartiaux concluded by stressing that execution in our industry is key. What matters is delivering the right products at the right time to the right place. But in itself thats not enough, so we have also made sure we are reliable and scalable. This is as valid for 2010 as for any other year. ScanSource Europes role as a partner is to create value for its vendors and resellers, facilitating channel relationships, educating the channel, creating business opportunities and providing access to information. That way the channel prospers and we encourage growth.

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