The Ex Factor: Exertis on gaming-as-a-service, VR, and maintaining its ‘world class’ relationships

With an ever-increasing portfolio of gaming-related gear, brands and services, Exertis is well and truly taking the bull by the horns when it comes to positioning itself as a leader in gaming distribution. 

Laura Barnes chats to Head of PC Gaming Ross Holt and Commercial Director Alex Croft about gaming-as-a-service, adding Razer products to its portfolio, and the industry’s “battle royale explosion”…

It seems not a month goes by without hearing about Exertis growing, making acquisitions and expanding its offerings. The technology distributor, which is part of DCC plc, is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the industry, and in 2018 alone we have seen Exertis and DCC Technology acquire the likes of UK distribution service Hypertec, consumer electronics distributor Kondor, and pro AV distributor Stampede.

With over 700 global technology brand partners, and over 45,000 resellers, e-commerce operators and retailers across Europe, it’s not really a surprise to see that Exertis is Europe’s largest and fastest growing technology distribution and specialist service provider.

Along with its solutions, services and IT, mobile, supplies and AV technologies, gaming is one area that Exertis has positioned itself as an expert in.

On the gaming front, Exertis has announced a number of exciting partnerships and distribution deals throughout 2017 and 2018. These include an agreement with Intel to include its processors, SSD, Optane memory, and NUC products. It has also added ZOTAC’s complete line-up of products – including graphics cards and mini-PCs – to its portfolio. The distributor also exhibited at EGX 2017, the UK’s largest video games event attracting 75,000 attendees.

Most recently, Exertis sharpened its gaming portfolio with Razer’s gaming notebooks, console peripherals and gaming mobile phones. At the time of the announcement back in July, Alex Croft, commercial director at Exertis Home said: “I am delighted to welcome Razer to the Exertis Gaming family. Their high quality, specialist gaming products fit perfectly into our Total Gaming offer, and I am excited about helping our partners deliver the very best solutions and products with the Razer portfolio now included.”

Ross Holt, head of PC gaming at Exertis, added: “Exertis are excited to be finally working with Razer, one of the most recognised gaming brands in the world. We will be helping to scale out the fantastic range of gaming notebooks, external GPU chassis’ and their innovative gaming phone.”

With an impressive gaming product portfolio spanning PC and console, PCR caught up with Croft and Holt to find out more about Exertis’ plans for gaming world domination:

How has business been for Exertis in general over the past year?

Alex Croft: Very encouraging, as our end of year results clearly indicated. Our Exertis Group revenue surpassed the £3bn mark, growing at 12 per cent. We have also announced further acquisitions adding new opportunities and expertise to our business, which benefit both our customers and vendor partners.

What has Exertis been up to in the PC gaming sector?

Ross Holt: PC Gaming has had another wonderful year at Exertis. We can now offer a full end-to-end gaming proposition for our customers with an outstanding vendor portfolio. Our retailers are increasingly taking advantage of our specialist services such as drop shipment and our vendors can benefit from innovative GTM campaigns for new hardware and software releases. Our long-standing brands have grown well with us, and we’ve recently welcomed Razer to our portfolio of gaming notebooks. The drop off on GPU purchases for mining has been challenging, but with the fantastic new range of RTX cards coming from Nvidia it should be a strong peak.

How about console gaming?

RH: It’s really important to point out that we don’t look at gaming in separate categories anymore – it’s all just gaming. Players are not just single format players anymore, and we cater for all.

AC: To Ross’ point, it’s all just gaming! Our console business has had another stellar year, with Xbox One S & X leading the way. The Nintendo Switch continues to be a fantastic seller too.

Are you involved in/sponsoring any gaming events?

AC: We started last year by supporting some of our brands at EGX, and we are back again this year with a new game launch. Our creative and marketing departments are fantastic at bringing concepts to life for both retailer and manufacturer/publisher and it is something we will continue to grow.

What’s the most exciting thing about the gaming industry right now?

RH: The battle royale explosion has breathed new life into the industry and many of the categories have benefitted. Esports’ drive into mainstream will continue to be critical. With more public arenas, tournaments and media coverage, consumer awareness is certain to grow at a rapid rate. This will prove beneficial for retail with increased demand for pro-level keyboards, mice, monitors, PCs and consoles as gamers look to improve their skills at home before heading out to public arenas. Games might be online but community venues could well become popular.

The concept of gaming as a service will only become more relevant, and with our publisher relationships, we are ahead of the curve. Another thing that is really exciting is cross device play and as already highlighted with our all-up gaming strategy, we are well positioned to help partners capitalise.

Tell us about your current digital services…

AC: [They are] market leading. We supply and support millions of pounds of sales across an international selection of retailers and partners that use the Exertis Digital Stock Room. EDSR has seen significant growth in both sales from our digital catalogue and the number of retailers using the service. We provide a low cost and low risk solution for any retailer wanting an efficient, reliable and flexible transition from physical to digital sales. This is achieved by offering retailers an extensive online catalogue that can be plugged into existing websites complete with all the relevant product information. We offer instant access to hundreds of content providers. These include: Rockstar Games, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, Microsoft and many more.

Online and digital sales are an essential part of any retail strategy and are now accounting for the bulk of software sales. With the continued migration from FPP to digital this market is only getting bigger.

What other product areas have you been increasing your focus on recently?

RH: VR has had a [difficult] start to life, but with Oculus, we have the right partner as this continues its push into the mainstream. After that, it’s about addressing any gaps. Merchandise is something we’ve zoned in on, and have recently signed some of the market leaders such as Rubber Road, GBI and Exquisite Gaming. Our creative services team will continue to be a big driver for Exertis.

What does Exertis have planned for the growth of its gaming products and services in the near future?

AC: Adding more partners, more territories, and maintaining our world class relationships and propositions. 

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