BASED: Alexandria, NSW
BRANCH OFFICES: VIC, QLD, SA, WA
REVENUE: $350 million (est)
BRANDS: Cisco, Microsoft, Nortel, Citrix, IBM Lotus, IntelOf all distributors, it is Express Data that has gained most ground on Tech Pacific as the Australian reseller's distributor of choice, according to Inform's Channel Trends research.
Express Data positions itself as a broad-based distributor focusing on a particular technology segment, that of networking and communication products.
"We have enough breadth to provide a range of market-leading products, but we are specialising in more complex products and that requires expertise," said Ross Cochrane, Express Data's general manager.
Those complex products include its mainstay like Cisco and Nortel networking equipment, but Express Data has also established itself as something of a trailblazer in bringing emerging new technologies and products to the Australian channel. For example, it recently introduced the Real Networks streaming audio and video products.
"I think we've always been well regarded for our ability to bring innovative technology and ideas to market," said Cochrane.
That drive to innovate is what drives Express Data and differentiates it from its competitors, according to Cochrane.
"We believe our service and our attitude is second to none, but it has to be because we are dealing with short lifecycle products that are complex and you can't just have a fixed formula to distribute products like that," Cochrane said.
"We have 45 salespeople who are all very technically competent and that's because we have a narrower focus than our major competitors," he said.
"We focus very hard on areas like staff retention because it's important for the reseller to retain its relationship with its account manager.
"We also try and empower our staff to make decisions in a non-bureaucratic way. While we have processes in place, when your dealing with complex technologies like this every customer is going to have a unique value proposition and so needs to be treated differently."
"So we don't have one reseller loyalty program, because we have 5000 resellers all with different requirements. So in partnership with our vendors we have different programs to suit different resellers."
Cochrane touts Express Data's product lineup as being key to the company's success over the last couple of years.
"We've been very selective about the products we've brought onboard because in the end it's the reseller's reputation that is on the line when they recommend a product. So we've tried to stick with vendors that are going to create end-user awareness and who have the infrastructure to ensure availability and can support their products effectively."
As such, Express Data generally leaves post-sales support to the vendors, however if a vendor is new to the market and has not yet established a support infrastructure, like Real Networks, then it will fill the void.
Express Data's presales engineers can be contacted through its 1800 Nethelp number or via its new Web site. In terms of value-added services, Express Data offers configuration services and direct ship, but unlike competitors like LAN Systems does not provide on-site services.
"We don't ever want to have our services in front of the customer because that relationship needs to be owned by the reseller - that's their value-add."
LAN Systems does sell support and maintenance packages however, from vendors like Cisco and Nortel, for resellers who need the ongoing support.
Express Data has just completed a major revamp of its Web site which includes facilities to order online, access technical support, download product catalogues and so on. (see ARN, September 1, p4).
However, Cochrane vows that the company will continue to innovate and roll out new features as they are developed.
"We're looking to continue to develop additional e-commerce applications. Our strategy is to listen to our customers and take advantage of whatever technology becomes available.
"There is more opportunity than there has ever been for everyone in the channel. Our approach is going to be to try and innovate faster than we commoditise and we're going to continue to look for new vendors, new opportunities and new ways of doing business," Cochrane added.
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