Zebra launches EMEA channel programme to put partners first

Zebra Technologies' EMEA channel partner programme is under way. Following intensive analysis of individual markets, distribution and reseller channels, and also incorporating best practice from Zebra Technologies award-winning programme in the USA, the company has developed the EMEA version of PartnersFirst.

PartnersFirst clearly differentiates distributors from direct resellers by adding a specific authorised distributor track to the programme. It also recognises the support that resellers who buy through distribution expect. These partners will benefit from working with a local distributor while maintaining a relationship with Zebra for sales, marketing, training and technical support.

With 100 per cent of our sales coming from the channel in EMEA, we wanted to ensure the right support structure is in place for all our partners, said Ashley Ford, sales director EMEA at Zebra (pictured left). By recognising different skills and commitment within Zebras partner community, we have been able to set out a reward mechanism that will encourage partners to invest in our business. For different countries, a set of varied criteria is clear for each level of accreditation. This ensures PartnersFirst is fair and representative of local market conditions and pricing, whilst motivating our partners to grow their business with Zebra.

PartnersFirst is an ideal opportunity for ScanSource Europe to reinforce its partnership with Zebra, said Xavier Cartiaux, managing director at ScanSource Europe. Zebras determination to change how its partners are supported and rewarded will benefit the channel and will help ScanSource to support the reseller community.

PartnersFirst is a continually evolving scheme, designed to offer more opportunities as new products and technologies become available. The programme recognises three tiers of direct resellers: Premier Partners, Advanced Partners and Associate Partners. These core categories are complemented with programme sub-tracks that reward excellence in specific areas, such as RFID and Zebra supplies.

All existing partners have been invited to apply online to be part of the PartnersFirst programme. They have until the end of 2006 to complete the application that is available at www.zebrapartner.com.

Interview: Ashley Ford says more about Zebra's sales goals

Q: What will be your main focus for 2006?

A: We launched PartnersFirst, our new EMEA channel partner programme back in April. Our main focus is the roll out and implementation of this programme and to successfully transition our existing partners into the programme, as well as recruiting new partners applying our new criteria.

Q: In which markets is Zebra experiencing growth?
A: We are experiencing double digit growth across our EMEA region. In particular Eastern Europe, Italy, Iberia, MEA, India and UK are showing strong growth.

In the healthcare sector a combination of EU directives and NHS initiatives are driving demand for both desktop and mobile printing applications, enabling nursing staff to label blood and medication at the patients bedside to reduce potentially life-threatening errors, and improve accuracy in the pharmacy and the lab. Retailers are also investing in mobile technology as the battle for customer loyalty hots up on the shop floor. Not only are mobile printers seen as critical for any queue-busting initiative whereby sales staff serve customers away from the till, but these are also key for quickly implementing price changes on the shop floor in the highly competitive fashion industry.

Q: How important is the channel to Zebra's growth strategy?

A: Zebra has a very clear sales strategy. Our only route to market is via our channel. Therefore our partners and their success are key to our growth strategy.

Q: Will you need to expand the channel and if so what types of partners are you looking for?

A: PartnersFirst is not a channel expansion programme. We are indeed looking to strengthen our partner base. We may wish to run specific channel recruitment activities for partners in vertical markets where we have identified good growth opportunities. Healthcare would be one example.

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