At a time when most major vendors are rolling out new and wonderful ways to operate in the direct-selling world, Toshiba has fortified its channel structure with a third tier.
The revision to the channel was revealed at its recent reseller conference. In a move somewhat like the gradings of the UK football scene, the model is designed to deliver what Toshiba ISD national marketing manager Mark Whittard described as a breeding ground for future five Star dealers.
Accounting for around 60 per cent of its business in Australia, Five Star Toshiba dealers are in the "premier league" with around 30 players dealing directly with Toshiba. Some of them are specialist notebook resellers and others are broad product-supplying VARs and integrators. But the five star status of the bottom two or three is always under review. Unlike the premier league, though, there is no mandatory annual relegation and promotion. "And it's not just a question of setting volume levels," Whittard explained. "We consider other factors such as geography, business structure and competitive strategy."
The second tier, called Toshiba Solution Centres, are supplied via the national distribution network, which includes Tech Pacific, CHA, Dicker Data, Prion and BMS in SA, and represents around 40 per cent of the business.
The cream of the second tier are under review as potential five Stars, and while they have first, second and third division TSCs, they deal with their preferred distributors and participate in Toshiba promotions, many having direct communication with the vendor.
The new third tier, called Toshiba Solution Partners, are something like the non-league conferences. They can tap into the available resources, but are more the breeding ground for future second-tier players.
"Our channel programs are designed to be accessed by anyone in our channel, and we are committed to going through the channel," Whittard said.