IPL overhauls Panasonic reseller strategy

IPL overhauls Panasonic reseller strategy

New push for IP telephones will involve lower prices, better features and a "re-educated" reseller network, the distributor claims

ICT distributor, IPL Communications, has flagged a review of Panasonic’s reseller base as it looks to strengthen its network and take on rival IP telephony vendors.

The company has been appointed exclusive distributor for the vendor’s revamped products portfolio in Australia.

“In IP telephony, it's [Panasonic] probably not such a strong brand name, it’s more associated with the traditional phone market,” IPL general manager, Paul Scanlan, said. “We’re going to assault that market with two key drivers – the feature sets will match [with rivals] and the price will be more aggressive.”

Scanlan said IPL would need to meet aggressive minimum growth requirements and flagged changing and re-educating the current Panasonic dealer network as key to its success.

“The go-forward strategy is not going to suit all resellers and some of them will decide they don’t want to join the journey,” he said. “There’s not space for all of them because we’re going to have a dealer base that’s of a size where everybody can make a profit.

“A lot of the dealers are selling just Panasonic phone systems. We’re going to educate them... to sell solutions that go beyond the switch including video conferencing, call recording and other Panasonic products.

“A lot of our dealers have skillsets in IT, but they don’t leverage them – they stick to voice. What we’re asking them to do is to take those skillsets that are sitting there dormant and actually utilise them.”

Scanlan said the current three-tier partner program used by Panasonic resellers would not change, but he indicated a review within 12 months. IPL is also on the hunt for value-added resellers and integrators willing to sell services along with products.

“We’re looking for resellers that are not nervous about selling software because we believe telephony is going to go down that path in no uncertain terms and software is going to be the lynchpin that pulls all this stuff together,” Scanlan said. “We’re aiming for resellers looking to make profits out of more than just selling the box.”

Although the general manager agreed cloud-hosted services, such as the recently launched Siemens solution, were competitors, he claimed most local customers would prefer to keep their services physical.

“The size of the threat will depend on the carriers,” Scanlan said. “I believe the threat will mostly be at the top end and not at the bottom or the middle end.

“Australians have a cultural desire to own and control things, so the attractiveness of having your phone system on your premises, under your control and managed by you is still a very strong part of the Australian culture set and will be for years.”

The official launch of IPL’s distributorship will take place during a sunset Harbour cruise on November 25 in Sydney with over 102 delegates registered to attend. Products are expected to start shipping from December 1 onwards.

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