We have a chat with director of international business Jeffrey Chao

Company profile: TP-Link

Where, when and by whom was TPLink founded?

Established in 1996 and headquartered in Shenzhen, China, TP-Link was founded by myself and Cliff Chao, with a vision to provide cost-effective networking devices to end users worldwide. Our subsequent successes have led to TP-Link becoming a global presence in the networking industry and the number one market share holder in China.

TP-Link has grown very quickly in the last few years, not only in the networking industry, but in the IT industry in general. In 2009, we were ranked the number one SOHO networking company in Computer Partner magazine’s top 100 IT suppliers in China.

With tens of millions of customers in over 100 countries, we offer a full range of networking products including ethernet, wireless LAN, broadband terminals for switching, routing and other major areas of scaled networking.

To meet our growing demand, we employ over 5,055 employees worldwide and have offices in China, Singapore, USA, Germany, Russia, India and the UK, with offices in Brazil, Italy and Vietnam currently being established.

How has the company changed over the years?

Since our inception in 1996, TP-Link has experienced remarkable and dramatic growth, fuelled by excellent products and business practice. We have seen exceptional year-on-year growth, with an international sales growth rate of 75 per cent in 2009 and product sales reaching 20 million units. We have also expanded from our roots in Shenzhen into the global market, now selling products in over 100 countries.

TP-Link’s positioning as a technology company makes investment in research and development key to our core competitiveness. We invest over eight per cent of our annual sales back into R&D with a view to expanding our current range to include 3G mobile, digital home and network security fields.

What are some of the biggest issues facing connectivity hardware at the moment?

Apart from the usual suspect of bandwidth, hardware manufacturers need to take into consideration the impact of cloud technologies and services. Although not new, cloud services present a wealth of opportunity as they gain mainstream adoption.

The challenge for us is to create products that incorporate the latest technology, while meeting a specific need and remaining scalable. As businesses seek to use cloud services to cut costs, hardware providers should look to do the same by providing the right tool at the right time for the right price.

We continually invest in R&D to ensure our range of networking products are compliant with the latest standards. However, we also maintain a focus on managing costs. Without cutting corners on quality, we prioritise the affordability of our product range.

Our networking products are designed to cater for the specific needs of end users, while remaining competitively priced. By predicting and meeting the needs of our consumer, we can ensure our place in the future of the networking industry.

The sector isn’t the easiest in which to distinguish products – what is it that you are offering that isn’t already out there?

Providing high quality, cost-effective networking communications equipment is TP-Link’s commitment to our supply channel and customers. We strive to ensure that we function in a way that makes our customers’ lives easier, to ensure long and mutually prosperous partnerships along the supply chain.

TP-Link is committed to producing the highest quality products for our endusers. We produce our products cost-effectively in order to pass savings on to both retailers and customers.

In 2010, TP-Link will sell approximately 50 million networking products across the globe, at an average of 140 thousand products sold every day. It is precisely due to this sales volume that TP-Link is able to control production costs and develop cutting edge products.

While ensuring we manufacture high quality products, TP-Link also provides the best after-sales service to ensure our resellers have as little to worry about as possible.

What plans do you have for future expansion around the world?

In 2009, 41.8 per cent of our annual revenue was from the international market and we have successfully started our first six overseas branch offices, in order to provide quick and comprehensive services to our customers. Our UK branch office is already operational, to better serve the local market in sales, marketing, after-sales service and logistics.

We are also continually developing and improving our manufacturing processes. Our new industrial park is under construction, with a total plant area of roughly 40 million square metres. Once built, this plant will see our manufacturing scale reach an entirely new level, with production technology and manufacturing achieving world-class status.

Not only will standardized production achieve stringent quality control but cost control will also become even more prevalent, savings that will ensure TP-Link can achieve rapid market growth.

In the coming years we aim to establish over 30 overseas branches whilst completing and securing our international sales channels. We are currently developing offices in Brazil, Italy and Vietnam.

In the short term, our goal is to build on our status as China’s number one market share holder and develop our international presence by becoming one of the top three global SOHO networking brands. As part of our expansion we aim to vigorously pursue the 3G mobile, digital home and network security fields.

What about specifically in the UK?

TP-Link’s UK start-up now has 5,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. We have also opened a local technical support hotline, established a general three-year warranty on all of our products and five-year warranty pledge on our managed switches. We will continue to strive to provide sales, marketing, aftersales service and logistics-related services to our partners and customers in the UK.

TP-Link has partnered with four distributors in the UK – EntaTech, Spire, Target Components and Goliath. We are also working with the likes of Amazon UK, CCL, Novatech, Buy.com UK, Broadbandbuyer, IT247 and Overclockers. We are currently working to collaborate with more mainstream retailers in the UK and welcome the opportunity to work with other retailers in England so that we may better serve Britain’s end users.

Our aim is to become one of the top three SOHO networking brands in England in the coming years.

Where do you see the business in five years’ time?

Based on the confidence of tens of millions of customers, TP-link is now growing to become one of the most competitive providers of networking products. We are successfully working towards becoming one of the leading networking brands, striving for a larger global market share and advancing in the world of networking to better serve our most valued customers with a product that makes their lives easier.

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