Going deep to differentiate in distribution

Going deep to differentiate in distribution

Operating as a specialist distributor in the Australian channel calls for a change of approach, but how is VExpress differentiating?

David McEwen (VExpress) - IMAGE: Christine Wong

David McEwen (VExpress) - IMAGE: Christine Wong

“Value-add is an overused word in distribution,” said David McEwen, observing the channel as executive director of VExpress.

As each year passes, distribution continues to be defined by the latest buzzword dominating channel chatter.

Whether it be cloud or digital, the go-to-market strategies of the central cog in the supply chain continue to fail under observation.

Yet when stripping back the layers, distribution at its heart, is a simple game, a game built on delivering a service capable of surpassing channel expectations.

“You always have to add value otherwise resellers vote with their feet,” McEwen said. “We are focused on the acquisition and retention of resellers, we enjoy working with new partners to find out what they want, what makes them tick and what they require from a distributor.”

As a founding member of the Telstra Business Systems (TBS) Program, VExpress has deep heritage in the Telstra channel.

But the distributor is moving beyond just moving boxes, facilitating partner growth through a deepened focus on customer service, channel enablement and sales support.

Based on four core offerings, VExpress offers channel enablement through a continuous program of training and accreditation, while providing bundled carrier solutions through the TBS Program.

In addition, the business provides flexible customer service capabilities for the channel, bolstered by support at both pre-and post sales stages.

“We offer value in specialised ways for our resellers,” McEwen added. “We have channel account managers who are very focused on specific solutions and products.

“We’ve maintained this strategy as other distributors in the market flip models and approaches. Some are specialised one minute then move towards being generalist, before moving back again. “Resellers don’t require generalists, they want to work with a distributor that can come in and help solve business problems.”

David McEwen (VExpress) - IMAGE: Christine WongCredit: Christine Wong
David McEwen (VExpress) - IMAGE: Christine Wong

For McEwen, being specialised in a crowded market helps shine a spotlight on VExpress’ approach to business, as the distributor differentiates through providing value across the channel.

“Resellers don’t want somebody to just turn up and buy the coffees, they want more today,” McEwen said. “It’s a tough market to operate in for resellers, given that cash flow is what makes the world go around.

“We have lots of conversations with partners who struggle with this very issue and on occasions, ask to wait another month to pay.

“In those cases, we examine their track record, have a conversation and work together to get them through this difficult path.”

But VExpress offers more than merely credit for the channel, rather a tailored approach aligned to specific technologies, such as voice, data and cloud.

“It is crystal clear what we do well in the market, and that’s focused on customer service and connecting with our resellers,” McEwen said. “We’ve always operated off a multi-level strategy of both businesses working together in partnership.

“It’s not down to just one person, whether that is the managing director, CEO, CIO or CFO. Of course, management must talk but so should operations, logistics and technical teams because people are just as important as the product.”

Vendor relations

With expertise across established and emerging technologies, VExpress is the local distributor of Alcatel- Lucent Enterprise, AudioCodes and Avaya, alongside NorthbridgeSecure, Sennheiser, Telstra Services, plus MessageMe, Polycom.

In adding to the portfolio, VExpress also recently announced a distribution agreement with StarLeaf, a provider of enterprise messaging, video calling and meeting solutions.

Terms of the deal will see the distributor offer resellers access to a unified communications platform in the form of StarLeaf OpenCloud, alongside a range of meeting room systems and conferencing services.

”With StarLeaf we are in a great position to offer our partners all they need to meet today’s business communication needs,” McEwen added.

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