Distributor Entatech has hired Alicia Shepherd to its newly created head of retail role, and the former CMS Computers executive is excited to be on board. But what changes are afoot and what should you know?
PCR asks Shepherd about her strategy, retail ambitions and what customers can expect from Entatech.
Congratulations on the new role. What are your initial thoughts on joining?
It’s exciting times and great to be back in IT distribution. The initial thoughts are amazing. I first cut my teeth at Micro-P back at 1995 and had the opportunity to work at C2000 as it was known then. Then I’ve had some vendor roles which allowed me to interface between the distributor and either the reseller or the retailer, but you can’t beat the buzz of an energetic sales floor. That’s certainly one thing you can say about Entatech – it’s got such a great team. So I’ve been welcomed with open arms and the first week has flown by. It’s been brilliant.
Then there’s the opportunity to work with [Enta MD] Dave Stevinson again, who I’ve known for circa 20 years. So I feel like the cat that got the cream. I’ve been in the industry long enough to see something unique here. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement that Enta has with so many retailers, not just from your major retailers, but cascading down to the next level where that support is. Embracing that whole retail piece is important for us.
How important is the indie retail sector to Entatech?
Hugely important. We offer dedicated account managers and expert product specialists. We can help – whether it’s a large retailer or a small independent retailer – to build their proposition. We can give them the support with exclusive brands, white label, a £2,000 credit limit, direct drop ship, demo kit... however much or however little that they need from us, they are as important within my team structure as the larger retailers we all know.
Breadth is key to any successful distribution model, but not breadth for breadth’s sake. It’s about delivering service and support to that breadth so they come back. And this is where we’re attracting so many new brands, and we’re continually going out there looking at the right vendors to work with.
What’s nice is we’re not so much having to bang on vendors’ doors, they’re banging on our doors to come and work with us.
So it’s a really exciting place to be and I can’t overstate that enough. I’ve got a spring in my step and certainly looking around my team and this sales floor, everyone has a spring in their step.
In terms of the bigger multiples and etailers, what are your ambitions there?
My first ambition is for our partners and the channel to know that Entatech is serious about retail. But equally, we have the unique proposition of a slightly different line-up in terms of our portfolio of brands we’re selling.
So I expect us to cross paths with Exertis, who have done a fantastic job and they’ve got some great guys on that team, as have Tech Data. But equally, I think and know there’s room for us, in that our approach is slightly different. The brands we are promoting and those who want to work with us are different. It gives us a wider spread of products within those retailers.
And where one brand may be deemed as a B-brand for example in an organisation the size of Exertis or Tech Data, actually here they’re seen as an A-brand. We’re making sure that our strategy and plans are aligned to theirs, so there’s real synergy there.
I believe there’s room for us within that very crowded space, whereas perhaps other distributors’ focus is on other areas, versus ours. We’ll bang our drum and be successful with the major retailers and indie retailers. And we will evolve. I’m sure as more vendors approach us, there will be more crossover with our competitors.
What kind of structure is in place at Entatech now?
Head of sales Darren Perks has babysat the retail area in the past, but we’re now broken down in terms of focus across the sales floor, predominantly with corporate, SMB and engage (so, new customers wanting to engage with us) – high touch and high support accounts. And then we have the retail/etail piece.
What we’re doing as a business is making sure the right customers sit within the right areas of expertise and skillset. We have product managers aligned to those sales teams equally, offering more support where it’s required. So we’re really confident going out there with our message that we can service those key channels.