Wasp flies high with VAR focus

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IT Reseller spoke with Hugh Furness, European sales director of Wasp Barcode Technologies, about the companys wide-ranging solutions set and how its fast-growing VAR network is now a major part of Wasps route to market.
As its name might suggest, Wasp Barcode Technologies first product launch in the mid 1990s was a barcode software solution. Today the company continues this heritage with a range of barcode software applications, together with printing solutions, stock control & management software, asset management systems, plus Time & Attendance and ePOS solutions. Over the past decade and a half, Wasp has developed a loyal base of 250,000 customers in manufacturing, warehousing & distribution, retail, government, education as well as healthcare services. While 80 per cent of its customers have less then 250 employees, many larger companies also benefit from Wasps product portfolio.
Open and frank dialogue
Wasp Barcodes Hugh Furness explained that over the past couple of years the company has looked very closely at its customer base with the aim of determining who end users feel most happy buying their systems from. When we conducted our survey of end-user requirements, we found that they felt more comfortable dealing with local IT suppliers, said Furness. They feel that local companies will be more hands-on, will talk openly and frankly to them and wont bombard them with things they dont need or understand. With this in mind, Wasp has decided to concentrate a large part of its market focus on its VAR network. In terms of how VARs buy through distribution, Furness has observed that some buy goods once or twice a year and may only source certain types of technology because of a customer enquiry. Then there are VARs that buy maybe over quarterly periods and are more proactive in making their customers aware of the latest technology and current offerings available on the market. Furness adds that the third category Wasp has been aware of comprises a large number of VARs that purchase solutions more regularly; some on a monthly basis, or even more frequently. The growth in this third category is very encouraging; indeed, last year we traded with around 850 VARs, which, considering the economic climate around that time, was fantastic news for us, said Furness. He added that, around the same time, Wasp secured around 350 VAR signatories to the WaspLink reseller partner programme.
VAR evangelising
Furness reflected that in the early days of Wasps dialogue with VARs some pointed out that they were content in selling a small group of devices that they knew well, plus some networking activity, and were happy making around a 3 or 4 per cent margin. We were surprised by this because we were offering products to their same customer base and offering our resellers around 20 per cent, said Furness. Nevertheless, some VARs were still quite reluctant to take on the technology saying they preferred to stay with what they already knew and felt comfortable with. Obviously, we pushed our point and, in so doing, got a number of new VARs on board. And once they started to take a closer look at our solutions they realised the technology wasnt as hard to get to grips with as they thought, particularly with all the back-up and support we can offer them as part of the WaspLink partner programme.
Furness explained that once a VAR registers for the WaspLink programme, and once the company is vetted for suitability, it has access to white papers, case studies and additional emailed material, as well as some free product. Furness points out that Wasp also runs training programmes related to all of its solutions. In the case of web-based training we are currently running around three sessions a week, and have anywhere between 150 and 400 VARs attending each of these training sessions, he said. Furness added that Wasp has also held local face-to-face training sessions, although it can be a difficult task getting everybodys diaries to synchronise because of the busy schedules of our VAR partners. Nevertheless, Furness believes there is still see a lot of value in these types of training sessions because these are ideal opportunities for VARs to really get to know and touch the products first-hand, he said. Wasp therefore displays its solutions at distributor functions, such as Varlinks Meet the Manufacturers event. Our VARs are important to us and we look forward to further building partnerships with the channel over the coming months, concluded Furness.

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