Andrew Wooden caught up with Dell?s UK channel director to find out exactly what its plans mean for the market...

Andy Dow talks Dell

Dell’s move into the channel is quite a complex issue on the surface. So just to clarify could you explain in basic terms exactly how the Dell Partner Direct programme will work in the UK?

Quite simply, we’re embracing the channel, we want to work with the channel, and we’re putting a programme together that allows us to form reseller partners within the channel.

We agree a whole load of services and value to that relationship, and we’re looking to them to put a whole load of focus and effort behind the relationship as well. Ansd what we then want to do is for us and for our partners to get incremental business. That’s about as succinct as I can get.

You’ll be supplying the hardware direct to partners. Why did you take the decision to avoid working with traditional distribution channels?

We haven’t said we’re avoiding working with distribution. What we have said is that today we are dealing directly with the channel. And there are a lot of good things about that. Whenever I’ve spoken to people in the channel, they’ve all said ‘I wish I had a closer relationship with my vendors’.

We’re saying to the channel, have a direct relationship with us, there’s no one in between. I think that is a huge positive. We have an entire team of internal account managers who know the products well, know Dell well and are absolutely focused on doing a good job on that product and helping the partner in booking it.

So I think that’s another big positive. Dell has never said it won’t work with distribution; what we’ve said about distribution is that where it brings something that we cannot get otherwise, or in any other way, we will absolutely look to engage with them.

So it’s an advantage cutting out the middle man and getting closer relationship with resellers?

I think that relationship is worth a huge amount. I’ve been in the channel a long time and I’ve heard repeatedly over the years ‘I would love a closer relationship with my manufacturer’. And that is what Dell is about.

We believe we have the infrastructure to deliver it and I think that’s exciting for the partners. We have the infrastructure to deal with many thousands of people – it’s not something we’re going to have to go and create.

We’re in a lovely position that we have this facility and the values that it can bring. It absolutely is a perfect opportunity for us to do what we can do.

So you’re not ruling out working with distributors in the future?

We don’t rule out a relationship if we see that relationship giving us something incremental that we would not otherwise get to.

Will you ensure that the parity between pricing online and through partners remains in place indefinitely?

This is about customer choice. We want to give our customers choice. They can buy Dell from the web page or they can buy a variety of products from their local partner.

But we want to give them the ability to choose, to say ‘well actually I’d like to buy a Dell from my local partner, I like the service they put around it, I like the software they’ve added to and the fact they configure it and all the things I need from a local partner’.

And to give the customer that choice; to say actually I choose the service from my local service provider or reseller and I choose to buy Dell, well, we need to have price parity at that end of the market. And that’s what we’re bringing.

Do you think the personal aspect will appeal to a lot of customers who previously bought from Dell online?

There are just under four million businesses with under 50 employees in the UK. They’re not all going to be wanting to spend their time buying on the web, bringing it back and configuring it themselves.

A lot of them need the support and help of a local provider. That is why the channel is flourishing and why it is doing so well. That’s the value that differentiates it from anywhere else. It’s what they can do for the customer around the box.

A lot of people in the channel have always seen Dell as an enemy, and now you have presented yourself as a potential ally. To those who are more sceptical of your arrival, what would you say you can offer them that isn’t already there?

What do we bring? We have one of the largest ranges of products in the industry, from imaging to all the traditional areas, through software, storage, and service solutions.

It really is one of the widest ranges in the industry. And that is a tremendous differentiator for partners to get behind and say, ‘yeah we can bring in full Dell solutions’, or maybe they want to mix and match and say ‘we want part Dell and part other peoples products’.

We bring that versatility, and we bring commitment to the channel – a long term serious strategic commitment. We’re here to drive growth in the mid market, which as we all know has the potential for the fastest growth in the UK, in terms of product service and assistance.

That’s really what Dell wants to bring to the channel – we would say come onboard be part of that growth with us, we’re investing in it, work with us because I think it’s the biggest growth area right now. And to be honest profitable growth is what everyone needs right now. I believe we can bring something very sustainable into the market.

This is a very very exciting opportunity for the entire channel. The response has been strong and it’s great to see how excited the channel is. And how energised they are about this opportunity. My message would be to register.

Let’s get out there and start the ball rolling…

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