Point forward - PC Retail

Point forward

Bluepoint's operations director discusses the firm's future
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Founded in 1992 with just a handful of employees, Bluepoint has steadily grown to become a prominent player in the UK IT channel and now has over 50 people working in various offices around the world.

After five years of operation, it was listed in the top 20 fastest growing companies in the UK by the Virgin Fast Track 100. In 2003, the company moved in to its purpose-built £1.5 million headquarters in Milton Keynes. It has also gone on to form key partnerships with a number of global vendors, including Intel, Microsoft, AMD, Fujitsu, Seagate and Acer.

Bluepoint’s operations director, Rizwan Datoo, regards this kind of partnership as one of the company’s core strengths – something that it takes care to cultivate with various businesses throughout the channel – allowing it to offer a far greater range of services to its customers.

“Not only do we have direct relationships with a range of brands, we also have strong links with all the major IT distributors in the UK,” explains Datoo. “This means that at Bluepoint, a customer can find anything that is available throughout the UK distribution chain. We consolidate orders for them, provide direct shipment to their customers, direct account management and we can do it on a white label basis.”

Another thing that Datoo feels has benefitted the company, is its emphasis on retaining its customers to help create long-term relationships, and says that being the first point of call for any product requirement is the path to success.

“Our product diversification has allowed us to offer over 25,000 products to our customers, while still retaining the focus of direct account management, and a strong stock holding of items our customers regularly require,” states Datoo. “We specialise in providing customers with what they need, even when a customer has a requirement for something we don’t stock – we will try and source it for them.”

A key aspect of providing for customers’ needs is the willingness to embrace new technology and business practices to enhance its own business structure. “Our adoption of IT, and constant improvement of technology to provide customers the most competitive price in the most efficient manner, is what people appreciate and that’s why they keep coming back.”

Datoo notes that today’s market is significantly different from the one of 20 years ago, much harder and with significantly narrower margins.
However, the attention to customer service that Bluepoint prides itself on has been the driving force behind its success, and it has been the main factor in its business model, which has seen the company diversify its portolio in order to further provide for the needs and demands of its customers.

“I think if you don’t change to meet the needs of your customers, and embrace the challenges of the times, then you will be obsolete,” says Datoo. “Today, apart from the thousands of items we resell, we provide our customers with leading marketing support, including web integration, daily specific branded e-shots for them to resend, as well as being able to quote their customer, their brand, logo, and details directly from our website.”

This strategy has found Bluepoint in good stead during the recession, and has proved to be a time of growth for the company.

“I think our key strengths came into play, and as customers reviewed their current suppliers in order to save money, they found that Bluepoint provided a range of brands at competitive prices, and as a result we’ve seen our business increase,” observes Datoo. “I could not begin to estimate our market share; for us the key figures show an increase in customer satisfaction, customer retention and sales. As long as we continue to keep our customers happy and bring in good results, then that’s what is important.

“I think in these times, customers appreciate service and support, a number they can call, and a familiar person they can speak to.” With its current strategy proving to be a success, Bluepoint is looking to build on it for the future. The company is aware that any growth must be supported by the necessary infrastructure.

“We want 2010 to be another growth year,” says Datoo. “Our focus will be on improving the range of services to our customers, and allowing them to concentrate on winning business. We are investing heavily in our IT infrastructure, from the back end through to the website, to provide online tools that will make selling easier, and to generate business for our customers and in turn ourselves.”

In the long term, Bluepoint has its eyes set on distant horizons, and with short-term strategy focussing on infrastructure, it could well be one to watch down the line.

“We are working towards scaling our operations within the UK, and expanding into Europe and the Middle East,” concludes Datoo. “I think the market will change drastically over the next five years, with more integration of products and the resulting shrink in the components sector. There will be greater demands for online services, and the products to access them from every room and device in a business or home.”

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