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Life in the Channel: TP-Link’s Lino Notaro

The Wi-Fi networking brand’s Retail Sales Director talks about how its new routers are supporting gamers, what it was like to win a PCR Award, and how TP-Link is handling the current working from home situation.

Tell us a bit about your current role at TP-Link.

I’m currently sales director for the retail and ecommerce channels at TP-Link UK. Whilst managing a number of major accounts, I’m also responsible for a small team of account managers and marketing personnel.

Between us we handle the complete ‘consumer channel’ outside of Amazon. I also spend time co-attending key meetings with my team, mentoring and sharing my experience.

I’ve been working within the consumer channel for approaching 25 years, representing a variety of well- known consumer electronic and computing brands, so hopefully I can share some of the knowledge which I have accrued over the years.

What is your team working on at the moment?

First and foremost we’re working hard to keep up with the insatiable demand for wireless networking devices. Whilst we had already seen very encouraging growth over Q1, the sudden requirement for everyone to work from home (for obvious reasons), has seen demand go through the roof! This has placed additional pressures not only on the retail team but also our supply chain which continues to overcome considerable challenges to keep our customers happy.

Additionally, we’ve just launched our new range of great value, entry level wireless networking devices, by the name of Mercusys. This is a concise range, focusing on wireless and traditional networking, predominantly aimed at ecommerce players, to help them differentiate from the retail channel.

We’re also busy launching our new range of Tapo smart home products, which will attract a whole new set of users to the smart home category. Tapo delivers great value in a competitive space, attracting users who still haven’t yet made the leap into automating their home appliances, lighting and security.

How is the company handling the current working from home situation?

The majority of our customer-facing sales teams and support staff are now working from home. This transition has actually been very smooth indeed, although I guess you would expect this, being a networking company. We can obviously provide all of the premium equipment one needs to get a great Wi-Fi signal in the home, so many of our staff have taken advantage of this equipment.

That said, we do still have a ‘skeleton’ team based in our Reading office to continue assisting our DC, to ensure we fulfil all of our supply commitments to our customers.

Needless to say, the workload for our supply chain is unprecedented, but our warehouse team continues to do a fantastic job.

TP-Link recently announced new routers aimed at gamers, can you tell us a bit about these products?

At CES in January, I was present at the launch of our new family of AX (or Wi-Fi 6) routers and Mesh (or Whole Home Wi-Fi) devices. Amongst other products, we showcased our Archer AX11000 Tri- Band router, alongside the brand new AX90.

Both of these routers are super-fast, specifically designed for the avid gamer who needs the very best performance from their Wi-Fi network, to avoid lag or drop-out. We also launched our Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 PCI-E card, enabling your desktop PC to benefit from the latest generation of Wi-Fi when connected to a Wi-Fi 6 router.

Finally, we also presented a brand new family of Mesh devices, delivering Wi-Fi 6 – Deco X90, X60 and X20. We’re very excited about this ‘game changing’ segment, which will drive further growth for our partners over the next few years.

How much demand is there for next-gen connectivity in order to support esports and AR/VR tech?

Consumers who are looking for the very latest connectivity is an extremely important part of our market and thus demand is considerable. Performance and reliability in this segment is key, meaning that price points and budgets are less relevant for this type of user.

Esports is an area where we continue to explore and associate our brand with. We believe we are perfectly placed to cater for this market with fantastic new products which deliver top performance.

TP-Link was named Networking Vendor of the Year 2020 at the recent PCR awards. How did it feel to win and why do you think the judging panel picked you over the competition?

It always feels humbling to see TP-Link achieve recognition from PCR and its judges.

I would like to think that we were chosen for this prestigious award because TP-Link works hard to deliver innovative products to the consumer channel. Additionally, we are committed to supporting our partners as much as possible with regular promotions, educational content and ‘eye catching’ in store POS, alongside class-leading social media partnerships, to engage end users with our brand.

I also firmly believe that we have a fully committed team across the whole company, who care about succeeding with our partners and making a difference.

What does TP-Link have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?

Whilst many of our H2 plans are currently ‘top secret’, we’ll continue to develop and launch class leading products within the networking and smart home categories, driving further growth for our partners. We may also be stepping into one or two new market segments too…who knows, watch this space!

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