Reach in coverage – soul focus for Epson partners
Director, Sales and Marketing, Epson India
Starting with a handful of 60-70 Partners, Epson has today significantly increased its Channel Partners to around 220. And it is all possible because of the company’s distribution structure. Samba Moorthy, Director, Sales and Marketing, Epson India, in a chat with VARINDIA divulges the company’s channel strategythat haskept the company going and helped it to reach out to a wide customer base
Epson has always believed in a direct interaction with Partners and Channel engagement programs that helped Partners to take it to a new height. “The number of partners has grown over the years but if you look at the number of partners who have been associated with Epson throughoutits journey,then the number will be close to 70% in more than 15 years, around 60% inmore than 10 years and 25-30% for over 5 years. It definitely states that Epson believes in Channel engagement,” says Samba Moorthy, Director, Sales and Marketing, Epson India.
Channel Engagement programs:
Channel being the foundation stone of any company’s growth structure, Epson has always empowered its Channel with various programs such as intense learning program which they call En-dimension, End solution and Envision programs.
En-dimension is basically a learning program about the products to enable partners and support them in the market. The End solution program is mainly for System Integrators to have the complete product information which will enable them to compete in the market. In the current year, Epson has redefined both En-dimension and End-solution programs and consolidated both into a single program called Envision. It is the continuity of the learning program across the product that enables them to reach out to the customers and help in demand creation. This program has equippedpartners to showcase products across the country by not displaying it just as a product but as solutions which they can extend to the customers. The Envision program was conducted in 20 locations covering more than 2000 Channel Partners and 300 SIs. It has helped them translate the product to their customers and helped to progress.
Designing of Channel Programs:
While framing any channel program Epson always keeps in mind the enablement of Partners to reach out to the market and establish themselves. There are two variants of channel program - Above the Line (ATL), where the company focuses on demand creation. For eg., in En-vision program not only channel partners and Sis, but the end users are also engaged where they can experience the products which leads to demand creation for the Partners.“Once the demand for product is created, it helps in brand identity and visibility growth which triggers the sales and helps the partners to move forward,” explains Samba Moorthy.
Epson also participates in local partner level activities on a regular periodic basis by participating in local exhibitions, IT- channel events, society to society demonstrations together with channel partners.
The other areas of focus for Epson are industry specific programs like photo exhibitions.For projectors, the company participates in Infocomm, which is focused into education. Epson focuses on both ATL and BTL activities which trigger demand, help smooth sale in and sale out of products.
Effective Channel-Vendor relationship:
The important factor of a particular geography is its market potential. After evaluating the potential of a particular market if the company has its existing partners present there, it gives an opportunity to them with a bandwidth across the range of products and thereby increase their wallet and for the company as well. It also helps Epson to spread out fairly in the market and give a fair return to the Partners.
Epson has simple expectations from its Partners. The National Distributors of Epson- Ingram Micro, Redington, Actis Technologies, Millennium Soft-Tech and EmbeeSoftware serves as a first channel. EAPs (Epson Accredited Partners) serve as tier one partner. The second tier of channel is Epson Certified Channel which is roughly about 6% partners. Whether it is an EAP or Epson Certified Channel, the soul focus is on the reach in coverage.
Future of channel business:
There are two factors - over the past 7-8 years, Large Format Retails (LFRs) are gaining grounds but have managed to penetrate only 4-5% in the market. Though, it has given the business dynamics that was required in the market but in IT it is not that significant alike in other leading markets. The majority chunk of business still comes from channel partners, which is 95%.
Definitely channel will be a vital bridge in terms of demographical or geographical structure. In India, apart from LFRs, Online sales are also emerging, but at the end of the day the customers want to have a product experience before buying. While online sales has definitely picked up in some of the categories, both LFRs and online sales are in its nascent stage.