One of the most important tasks facing a trade event is the drive to stay relevant, no matter how quickly wider factors change. The technology industry, perhaps more than any other, is defined by a rapidly dynamic nature and a propensity to expand into many different areas, meaning retailers have to use every tool they have to keep up to date with the latest trends.
As the only trade event of its kind in the UK, Channel Expo has always played a key role in this. However, one of the defining features of this year's show is finding ways to stay afloat in a time of economic downturn. In response to this, Channel Expo organiser Incisive Media has put a much greater emphasis on education and discussion for this year's show, providing a forum for debate and deal making designed to offer a boost to retailers during these tough times of economic recession.
As usual for Channel Expo, the high quota of exhibitors will provide plenty to see during the show. The following pages provide a preview of what some of the key firms will be offering and where you can find them.
Stand Number: 474, 480, 488
Ingram Micro is once again attending Channel Expo, and can be expected to put on as much of a show-stopping stand as it did last year. The distributor will be hosting over 15 of the biggest names at its stand this year, including Cisco, Microsoft and Canon, amongst others.
The distributor will also react to feedback from last year's event, with the firm looking to give retailers and resellers more of an understanding of how its exhibited products work, the unique selling points and what impact they can have on sales.
"Having listened to comments from the 2008 event, we know that resellers want to see and work with more technology, and meet key vendors," explains Ingram Micro's campaigns and events manager, Caroline Thom. "The Ingram stand will include offerings from key vendors representing home, work, mobile and networking, plus a stand dedicated to their new Apple and complementary vendor offering, Match.
Asked why retailers and resellers can not afford to miss its stand, she adds: "There will also be plenty of opportunity to do business on the Ingram Stand with dedicated private meeting zones, informal breakout zones and even real coffee from a mobile barista – reason enough to visit."
At the time of writing, Logitech, Acer, D-Link, Cisco, Symantec, Trend Micro, Microsoft, DC/POS, Canon, BlackBerry, USR, Citrix, Avocent, Startech and Toshiba Hardware are among the firms that will have a presence at its stand.
Stand Number: 671
It might be a behemoth in the channel, but 2009 will be the first time that the printer giant has exhibited at Channel Expo. Lexmark is looking to promote its channel programmes and reach out to retailers, resellers and other bodies.
The firm is looking to make the most of its time with retailers and resellers by meeting them face to face, something that Lexmark sees as crucial to it being able to explain its product line–up and its benefits. "It is important for us to develop and enhance relationships with existing resellers at the event," said UK channel director, Marcus Harvey.
Much of the firm's focus will be on its channel programmes, which have been designed to help retailers and resellers cut down costs for their customers. "Part of that is to take the opportunity to meet with potential new resellers to explain our channel offerings – for example, our Channel Value Programme."
Other areas that the firm is likely to be focusing on are its green programmes. "We will also be championing our Print Less, Save More approach which advises people on how to reduce their print costs and their carbon footprint," adds Harvey.
The firm will be showing off three printers in particular: the X7675, X544n and the C544n.
Stand Number: 480
Symantec will be at this year's Channel Expo in force, with the security vendor looking to reinforce its position as the number one solutions provider for both the consumer and business arenas.
It's likely that the vendor will be pushing its new range of consumer and business focused products. Amongst those products are likely to be its new Norton Internet Security 2009 suite and Symantec Protection Suite Small Business, the latter of which was launched at the beginning of this month.
The firm is also likely to be advancing the storage aspect of its business, part of which is included in its Symantec Protection Suite Small Business package.
Ahead of the event, the vendor said: "Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organisations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored."
Stand Number: 640
Having had a hectic experience at last year's Channel Expo, security specialist BullGuard is adopting a more relaxed approach this year. Visitors to the stand will find a 'reseller lounge,' which it hopes will offer an oasis of calm to the bustle of the event.
As well as showcasing the latest edition of its Internet Security package – version 8.5 – BullGuard is looking to expand its reseller programme. The aim of the reseller lounge is to provide a relaxed atmosphere where both existing and potential partners can learn more about its products and the benefits of its reseller programme.
"We're certainly looking to expand our reseller base – something that follows the overall strategy for the company," BullGuard's UK sales director Alan Case told PCR.
"We're looking to grow our business and we're going to use the Channel Expo to renew ties with our existing partners. It's also a platform to demonstrate our great new product lines to anyone that's interested in working with us."
BullGuard is going to be showcasing the benefits to its partner programme, which include admission to its partner website, also called the Reseller Lounge, and access to the BullGuard Revenue Share programme. It will be handing out free software and any reseller who signs up at the stand will be entered in to a prize draw.
Stand Number: 530
Eset will be looking to grab retailers' and resellers' attention once again this year, with a multitude of channel programmes designed to help the embattled channel.
First up, will be the launch of its new partner scheme, designed to help those in the channel that currently sell its range of security software. This will see the vendor offering a new marketing and sales support structure that it hopes will boost sales even further and help its partners.
However, it isn't planning on keeping its programme at the same size, with the vendor promising to use the show to significantly boost its numbers of partners. It views bringing more partners into the fold as crucial for the next year.
Thirdly, the security vendor is looking to educate retailers and resellers at the event, as well as other channel firms, about the benefits of ESET over its competitors, through results of independent tests. It will also be looking to provide technical education sessions for existing partners.
ESET is also aiming to run a sales and product training day ahead of the show, with the goal of providing its existing partners with a boost, without pulling them away from sales at a time when costs are everything. It will run on the day before the show opens.
Stand Number: 390
Meroncourt has said that it is planning on using the show to demonstrate its support for retailers and resellers, especially while the country is in the middle of a recession.
The distributor will be showing off a number of programmes it is running to help retailers and resellers make better use of storage and ordering, including its drop shipping facility. "We have initiatives to help customers grow their business with low risk and easy stock options," explains sales director Steve Walsh. "We will be seeking to help retailers and resellers with our drop shipping service, our sale or return offers and our starter packs, which give the customer a whole range of products at low prices."
It is also looking to give visitors a full idea of its range, with the distributor planning on displaying its entire range of products, including its selection of netbook accessories from the recently signed vendor Choiix.
It will also have a heavy compliment of gaming peripherals including lines from Roccat, Nova and Mionix. However, the firm is not planning on letting the boxes gather dust – it will be hosting professional gamers from Team Cooler Master at the stand to demonstrate to retailers and resellers the value behind the products.
Stand Number: 474
Cisco is taking advantage of Channel Expo to launch its new CCN programme, a newly initiated reseller programme that aims to serve as a distribution network for the Linksys consumer range.
The Consumer Channel Network represents a big move in to the consumer space and Cisco will be showcasing a number of its latest products in a drive to recruit as many of the 600 resellers it's aiming for, as soon as possible.
The initiative has been designed specifically to provide resellers with the resources, tools and training that they need to sell Linksys by Cisco home networking products. Partners will receive support such as marketing resources, training, POS materials, tech support, PR assistance as well as registered partner status, with more resources planned for the future.
The retail channel manager for Cisco's Consumer Business Group, Andy Comerford feels that the product lines available will provide a strong incentive for potential partners: "If you look at the products that we've got, you can see that we've taken the best bits from our business ranges and rebuilt them as consumer devices."
Among the consumer products that will be exhibited is the MediaHub Home Entertainment Storage, a NAS device that can be used to store digital media such as music or movies and stream it directly to any device in the home. Remote access can be configured through the 'Linksys by Cisco' website.
"Channel Expo is a great opportunity for us to engage with the reseller base," says Comerford. "We're bringing a new and exciting initiative to the table and we're looking forward to forging many new partnerships."
Stand Number: 480
Although Canon is ostensibly at Channel Expo in support of Ingram Micro, it will also be showcasing a wide range of its latest products.
Visitors to stand 480 will be able to take a look at around 30 Canon products including digital cameras, high definition video, and single and multi function printers.
Its market leading range of EOS digital SLR cameras, which aims to bring 15.1 mega-pixels and full HD video to photography enthusiasts, can be examined alongside the new additions to the Ixus range.
The Digital IXUS 110 IS offers wide shooting via a wide-angle zoom lens, wide-aspect LCD and widescreen HD movie shooting, while the Digital IXUS 990 IS delivers improved telephoto reach via a 5.0x optical zoom, and detailed image review with a three inch PureColor LCD II screen.
In addition to these, visitors can take a look at Canon's Powershot D10 digital still camera, designed for users with an active lifestyle.
On the printer side, Canon is going to be showcasing its Pixma MX860 multi-function printer, which combines a print engine, auto duplex scan and copy functions, with a super G3 fax and Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Also showing will be the MX330, the MX860, the MP320 and the iP4600.
Canon will also be offering a special promotion on its iP100 inkjet printer, bundled with a Toshiba laptop. "We're looking forward to the event as it always offers a good opportunity," said Canon's partner manager Anthony Shepperley. "This is the third or fourth year that we've exhibited at Channel Expo and it gets better with each passing year."
Stand Number: 493
Inventory management vendor Wasp has said that this year's show will be all about helping resellers to boost their margins, and to understand how almost anyone can sell its solutions.
"There are two main reasons why we're exhibiting at this year's show," explains European sales director, Hugh Furness. "Firstly, it's because it's the right target market for us. No other show in the UK has as many resellers attending. It's important for us to be able to talk to them and to make them understand just why they are so important to our strategy.
"Part of that is that they have a reach to local level businesses that other types of business just don't. Being able to deal with these firms on a day to day level gives them the huge benefit of offering the solution in the first place, rather than waiting for the customer to realise they need the solution.
"The second is that while margins on other devices are going down, those on inventory management products are staying fairly stable – with some at around 25 per cent per sale.
"It's also important for us to be able to chat to resellers at a face to face level to help explain to them, that while they may not have traditional dealings with inventory management products, an AV specialist can just as easily – if not more – have a chance of selling these solutions to their customers."
Stand Number: 368
RET UK has said that it will be using Channel Expo to achieve a number of goals this year.
"We are looking forward to the opportunity to meet up again with many of our current Power Squared dealers to discuss their existing and future requirements for 2009," explains managing director Nik Hilliard. "We will also be signing up new dealers to the Power Squared authorised programme, enabling them to offer their customers a complete range of batteries and power supplies for portable devices."
However, the firm isn't just looking to press the flesh and up-sell existing products. "We are looking forward to the launch of a number of our new products including the world's smallest 90 watt AC adapter along with a range of external laptop battery charging solutions."
Explaining why the trade show has become such an crucial event, Hilliard adds: "Channel Expo is an important date in RET's calendar as it gives us the opportunity to showcase our range of products and services in detail to thousands of customers and prospective customers under one roof."
Echoing the comments of many other exhibitors, he adds: "We believe that email-shots and phone calls are no substitute for face-to-face conversations and hands-on product demonstrations."
Stand Number: 264
Varlink, the data retrieval solutions distributor has attended every Channel Expo since the company was founded four years ago.
"Channel Expo is very important to us," said Varlink's marketing manager Sabine Kelly. "It's the only event that is dedicated to resellers and service providers, which is the target audience that we most need to reach."
Like last year's event, Varlink will be showing off its range of rugged handheld terminals, mobile computers, PDAs, smart phones, barcode scanners, barcode label and mobile receipt printers, all to be found at stand 264.
However, this year the mobile computing and data retrieval specialist will be presenting a united front with some of its key partners. French Bluetooth specialist Baracoda, mobile computing vendor Psion Teklogix, airtime wholesaler Guest and barcode specialists Datalogic and Zebra will be sharing the stand.
"We're presenting a united front because it gives us a strong presence and key vendors can really add value to a project," continues Kelly. "It is this aspect of brand convergence that we want to highlight and we'll be offering special deals on bundled software packages that include each of our vendors."
Outlining what Varlink hopes to achieve from the event, Kelly said: "We want to use the opportunity to reengage with our existing customers as well as showcase our products. We've seen a lot of people moving towards data retrieval and mobile computing, so we'll be looking to form new partnerships as well."
Stand Number: 275
Datafort positions itself out from the data backup specialists crowd as one of the few service providers and developers in the channel, and it offers a host of peripheral services as part of its backup package.
As well as offering full data backup and system recovery services, Datafort has developed a network monitoring system that it has integrated into its offsite backup agent and is available to its clients free of charge.
The company is also extremely proud of its competitive pricing strategy. "We are the least expensive company in the UK to offer third party backup," says DataFort's business development director Marcie Terman. "Unlike many other data backup specialists, we price our storage using post-compression volume, it's around 90p per gigabyte of compressed data.
"On top of that, we're totally UK focused and all our services are built on a rock-solid software platform that we developed ourselves. There aren't many other third party data storage businesses that can offer that."
DataFort will be using Channel Expo to raise its profile and to recruit resellers for its tier three reseller programme, which it hopes to expand by an additional 10 to 12 per cent. This is a wholesale backup service that essentially offers a white label scheme to companies with a definable group of customers. Registration is free and DataFort will offer training and support for its partners' sales and engineering teams.
"This is our third year at Channel Expo," continued Terman. "It is without a doubt the most efficient way for us to put our proposition to customers. The IT channel is extremely important to us because it's our route to the wider market."