Before Christmas, Technology Reseller caught up with Vestel Visual Solutions Sales and Marketing Director David Flintoft to find out about the professional display manufacturer’s new partner programme and plans for growth
Last year was not an easy one for display and digital signage businesses, with the core markets of education, retail, events, sports and entertainment all badly affected by serial lockdowns.
Under the circumstances, you might have expected a relatively unknown company like Vestel Visual Solutions, which has only recently entered the B2B space under its own brand, to have found the going particularly tough.
Not so, says David Flintoft, Sales and Marketing Director for the Turkish manufacturer’s TV and digital solutions division in the UK.
While he concedes that there have been challenges on the B2B side of the business, particularly in education, where Vestel had been making inroads, he points out that the company has been cushioned from the worst effects of the pandemic by its strong consumer products portfolio.
“In the UK, we are quite small and nimble, so the decline hasn’t hit us as much as other companies,” he said. “The TV business has been incredibly strong, as has our white goods business, so overall our core markets haven’t been affected. The slowdown in B2B for two quarters of the year has not been ideal, but it has given us more time than we would normally have had to focus on what we are trying to do for the long-term.”
These include the launch of Vestel’s first UK partner programme and the strengthening of its B2B team with three new salespeople and the appointment of a new Sales Manager, Chris Moore, previously at Benq.
The tiered partner programme includes features like a special partner app, dedicated account management, special bid functionality, demo/loan kit, customisable marketing collateral, market development funds and training.
For Flintoft, it is testament to Vestel’s ambitions in the display space and an obvious extension of the investments the company has made in its B2B offering and support over the last three years.
“Before, we used the same distribution partner (Westcoast), but everything else was very ad hoc, just trying to win, looking for opportunities, growing the brand, looking for the right product mix. One of our strengths as a business is the wide product set available to us, and in 2020 – our third year – we really refined our product offering to focus on what we are good at and where we offer great value,” he said.
“In the past, we didn’t have a partner programme, the players were quite small and we were just starting out and finding our feet. But, with the team we have put in place and the product range we have curated across our core product groups, now is the time to invest to grow. You can’t engage on a huge level without something like our partner programme, which ties everything together and enables really strong engagement with our resellers.”
To date, resellers have responded well to the programme. Within weeks of it being launched, Vestel had on-boarded 70 partners and when Technology Reseller spoke to Flintoft in November, he was confident of hitting his 100-partner target by the end of the year.
“And then we will really start ramping up our core marketing activity, with channel comms, social media comms, pushing that reseller channel message as we enter 2021 and aim to grow further,” he said.
“Over the last two years, B2B revenue has doubled, and we are looking to double it again next year. The three-year plan is for the B2B business to be around 20% of the value of TV sales, so it is going to be a significant part of where we are going.”
A partner programme on its own is not enough to attract resellers. So, what are some of Vestel’s other benefits for AV and IT resellers? For Flintoft, the answer is simple: great products, keenly priced, with excellent support.
“We feel there is definitely a place in the market for high quality, competitively priced display products. We can offer a solution in pretty much every key area. Whether it is touch screens, digital signage, signage with embedded Android, or LED walls, we have that full feature set. Then, over the last 18 months, we have worked really hard on the service proposition that supports that, with three-year warranties, extended warranties into education and the like. Match up that value proposition with a really strong service element and we have a really formidable offering,” he said.
Then, there is the attraction of partnering with a technology and white goods manufacturer with a 25-year heritage in TVs and a manufacturing base in the Mediterranean port of Izmir, with excellent end-to-end logistics to the UK.
“What we would like to do once the world is back to normal is to get our key resellers out to Turkey to experience not just the wonderful Turkish hospitality and the beautiful port of Izmir, but also the manufacturing facility at Vestel City,” declared Flintoft.
“No one we have shown it to has failed to be amazed at the quality of the people we have out there and the quality of production. It still blows me away. There are miles and miles of TV factory, white goods factory – cooker, washing machine, dishwasher, tumble dryer – as well as B2B development, including the production of our new EV (electric vehicle) chargers, which we will be offering in the UK under the Vestel brand.”
Resellers initially attracted to Vestel by the quality and competitiveness of its professional displays might find that their relationship with this ambitious new B2B supplier brings many other opportunities.