IT Reseller spoke with Mike Pullon, managing director of Varlink, and Sabine Kelly, Varlinks marketing manager, about the distributors recent Meet the Manufacturers event in York to find out what they considered to be some of the main highlights of the event.
Each year Varlink invites its VARs and system integrator partners to its Meet the Manufacturers Event held in York in order for them to speak directly with solutions providers about their latest product releases and to discuss business opportunities. Looking back on some of the highlights of this years recently held event, Mike Pullon reflected that there was a strong sense that many of the resellers present were looking for new product sets that could differentiate them in their target markets. At the event I felt that people realised they couldnt sustain a business if they just continued to sell the same brands and the same solutions as many of their competitors, he said. Pullon added that Varlink spoke with a number of customers both established and new who clearly identified a key reason for their attendance as being to look for products that they could take to market as part of their solutions set or as stand-alone devices, and that would give them competitive advantage.
Pullon pointed out that many of Varlinks resellers sell very specific niche-market solutions or an application that could be used across a number of solutions. The sense we got from the Meet the Manufacturers event was that a number of these resellers were determined to come out with a very competitively priced product that they could actually achieve a margin on, he remarked. And because Varlink in addition to including a number of already well-established brands in its portfolio has also made a point of bringing to market brands that are either not well-known or not fully meeting the aspirations of the manufacturers, it is now seen as a main source of supply for those brands. With products like these, weve mapped out the development of our company based around a set of deliverables to our customers one of the first deliverables being profit, said Pullon.
Sabine Kelly reflected on the feedback Varlink received at the event from some of the new resellers the company is currently engaging with. As well as continuing to serve our existing resellers, we are also keen to recruit new ones and to get to know how they can benefit from a relationship with Varlink, she explained. The Meet the Manufacturers event is an ideal platform to get a feel for the areas of possibility for these resellers across different vertical sectors. For example, a reseller that has never typically been well positioned in the retail environment maybe looking to diversify and to increase its revenue streams maybe partly due to the challenges of the recent market downturn. And at our event it is very refreshing to see manufacturers that are willing to say that within their kitbag there are the products and the support available to help promote the resellers activities in new markets, as well as those markets they are already actively involved in.
The surprise element
According to Pullon, another interesting observation that came out of the event was that it is sometimes the things that manufacturers dont always promote that prove to be of major interest. Take a company such as Partner Tech, who we brought in to be a key brand in the EPOS distributor set they were absolutely stunned by the interest that their tablets and terminals created, remembered Pullon. They have created tablets and terminals that they perceived as being tableside order taking systems, but people with medical applications or route applications also love them because they have larger-than-average, crystal clear screens, a really nice form factor and all the ergonomics that not just a waiter would require, but also users in other sectors as well.
Pullon also makes the point that a large number of Varlinks customers write their own software; therefore, there is always the debate about whether the products that we are selling are competing with them or whether they are complementary; clearly we think were complementary, he remarked. And it was interesting seeing the initial demeanour of some of the resellers at our event, and the way their demeanour changed as they got into conversations with vendors such as Wasp Barcode Technologies; realising that if one of their customers was looking for an asset management system and could make a compromise with, say, the wording that was used on the screens, they could really benefit from a Wasp product. Resellers can buy these products immediately and deliver them to the customer straight away they can also make a margin on them and, of course, they have the business relationship with the customer that they could develop further.
Pullon concluded: So, witnessing people at our event realising they could cross-sell and use technology from one area of our portfolio that they hadnt previously considered was great to see. Many of our partners realised that there were some hidden gems in the ranges available if they looked for them.