Touchscreen manufacturer MicroTouch is commencing a fundamental shift to the reseller channel, by signing distribution deals in Asia and flagging several key initiatives in Australia.
Rather than continue to support a direct model, MicroTouch has chosen to appoint master distributors for its expansion into the Asian market. Korea Telemetics and Laser Computers of Hong Kong will now act as master distributors of MicroTouch products for the Korean and Hong Kong/Chinese markets respectively. MicroTouch will be opening a support office in Seoul to assist in technical and large account support.
Closer to home, the company is expected soon to announce the appointment of a distributor to cover the NSW/Victoria/Queensland marketplace, joining Edsys in WA and Sleebs in Tasmania as MicroTouch suppliers. Also, in order to take advantage of burgeoning opportunities in the manufacturing sector the company is expected to announce another partnership with a company specialising in that field.
MicroTouch president and CEO Wes Davis said the change in thinking from direct to indirect channels is a result of the 25 per cent growth rate MicroTouch has experienced. "It has caused us to step back and start looking at our own core strategies, and one of those core strategies is how we go to market. And as the touchscreen itself has gone from a unique, very esoteric technology to be more mainstream, we've seen the distribution patterns start to change."
Davis said that in MicroTouch's early days the high level of end-user education required was too great a burden to pass on to resellers. "And so that was why we primarily had a direct model. As this market has changed there's less reason to educate people on the technology; going through our resellers tends to be the most cost-effective route to market. That requires a complete change in our business model, but it's an evolutionary change, not a revolutionary one."
Asia-Pacific managing director Craig Stockdale estimates MicroTouch now has well over 100 third-party solution providers in Australia.
Stockdale said while these companies are quite capable of making sales, it is still up to MicroTouch to continue finding new applications for the technology. "And in order to spend more time on evangelism we need someone to now take over that core business that we've built up. We could invest fairly heavily in setting up offices around the countryside, or we can look at the reseller channel."
Stockdale expects many of these new applications will arise in the already booming supply of information kiosks and the expected rapid growth in point-of-sale applications.
And to cater for increasing demand, MicroTouch is about to open a new factory in Melbourne, which will double the output capacity of its present facility. Last year the company turned out 6500 units - this year that number is expected to rise to 10,500.
MicroTouch will also be supporting its new channel partners through a multilingual Web site and CD-ROM. An Australian initiative, Stockdale said the CD will contain various marketing and technical tools, including case studies, and will present a uniform view of the company throughout the channel.