Hardware accessories vendor, Belkin, is making an aggressive play in the channel in a bid to capture an untapped market segment.
The reach out to the channel comes on the heels of the company’s global revamp of its brand identity and focus, said Belkin A/NZ managing director, Ian McLean, who’s leading the Australian channel charge.
“Belkin has been very much, within the Australian market, a retail-based company – traditional retailers, the big box retailers. We’ve been very successful there, and we continue to be very successful there. But the channel offers many other opportunities for us,” McLean said.
“It is about building a model which will allow us to go to channel, to support the channel. Look at some of the segments and verticals within the channel. On the basis, that it is a win-win for us and the channel partners that are out there.”
The company is in several areas of the market including home automation, home entertainment, wireless networking and mobile accessories.
“Belkin is a young-old company in some ways. They’ve had a lot of decentralisation. Australia has been a very successful business for them over a long period of time with full autonomy within the business,” McLean said.
“That works very well, but as a global company there are obviously a lot of benefits that you can bring from commonality of systems and process and supply chain and other areas of the business functions. My role is to understand that we’re trying to bring these out, but then help the company shape them into effective tools at the local level so that we do understand the nuances of the Australian marketplace.”
Cyber security is a hot vertical, he said, indicating Australia, compared to the United States (where secure KVM is going into many of the top government departments), has not reached its full market potential yet. “Over here, we hardly play in it at all. So, right now, cyber security in large business and in government is an area that we’re focused on.”
Education (taking the business-grade and infrastructure products) is another top vertical, he said. Power and energy management is another hot market. “The energy issue here is very topical. We’ve got some great technology in that space.”
The company recently launched a home automation product into the channel in Australia dubbed Wemo, a family of products that allow users to control home electronics from anywhere. “This is the first product we’ve launched specifically into the channel,” he said. The product is sold through Express Data, Ingram Micro and Dicker Data.
“The technology is more in the Cloud and how we connect these devices in the Cloud and then allow the user to see them, touch them and see them on a major basis.”
In addition to launching products into the channel, the company recently appointed a national channel manager, Steve Lovelace, who will be supported by sales, marketing and junior telemarketing people.
“My whole emphasis in the 16 months of being at the company is how we engage our channel team. We had channel engagement, we had distribution, but it was poor. Our pricing strategy was not there, our people it was pretty much deal-based that we had. It just wasn’t there. So we’ve put in place a team of people. We’ve hired some people into the team as well.”
“We’ve reorganised the business, to take people from other parts into this as a focus.”
McLean said the channel moves are starting to bear fruit. “Our channel business was very deal-based or it was second-tier retail. We now have an active engaged structure with some of the verticals and some of the vertical partners. We have a pricing structure that supports our value-added business partners.”
He said the company has also put in place a basic channel program. Next month, he said, the company plans to take the program to the next level.
“In the February time-frame we will launch this in a bigger way. We recognise that Belkin needs to reengage with the channel. We’ve got the people, the infrastructure put in place, the pricing put in place, our marketing materials put in place and we have the fundamental building blocks in terms of channel communication and reporting lines and the understanding of what our partners need to make them successful.”