Pushing it to the 'max

PCR speaks to the UK director of Edimax, Kenneth Teh about its future
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PCR speaks to the UK director of Edimax, Kenneth Teh about its future

Founded in 1987 as a shoe and luggage vendor, Edimax has become a leading original equipment manufacturer, supplying many of the world’s largest vendors with the networking technology behind market leading products.

The company was instrumental in the introduction of network cards, but after over two decades behind the scenes, it is looking to grow its brand to rival the likes of Netgear, Belkin and Linksys on the High Street shelf.

Edimax UK director Kenneth Teh is confident that the combination of its research and development operation and its strong ethos of customer service will help it become the next Tier One networking vendor.

"As a manufacturer, we started in the OEM business," Teh explains. "About eight to ten years ago, we decided to use the Edimax name as a brand for our networking products. We eventually entered Europe, and then we opened a branch in the UK nearly seven years ago to push Edimax as a tier two brand.

"Eventually, we grew to the point where pretty much everyone in the trade had heard of Edimax. As a Tier Two manufacturer, we upgraded our designs, the quality of the product – everything from the design of the case to the easy-use installation software – to get up to the Tier One image. We’re not quite there yet. In terms of how we’re perceived, but we have got all the branding and the product qualities of a Tier One brand."

To change perception of the brand, it must enter the High Street, claims Teh. "The next major challenge – and key to attaining that Tier One status – is breaking into the retail channel. This is the way to make everyone aware of the Edimax name."

A major part of the vendor’s strategy is to cover all aspects of the retail channel. The first fruits of this policy emerged at the very end of July with the announcement that the UK’s second largest supermarket chain, Asda, was to stock Edimax’s range of networking products. However, Teh is adamant that this is not the end of the vendor’s strategy to break retail, but merely the beginning. "We’re in contact with many of the big UK electricals retailers, and we’re hoping that after we begin selling into Asda, they will take us onboard."

The other part of the company’s strategy remains its focus on unique products. "We have two research and development centres: one is in Shanghai, the other is in Taiwan. This is a result of our founding as an OEM business. Manufacturing is still about 50 to 70 per cent of our revenues, while the other 30 per cent is Edimax. A lot of major brands out there – obviously, I can’t tell you who – use Edimax technology at the heart of their products.

"Edimax has always wanted to become a unique manufacturer, because networking has now become so common," he adds. "Wireless cards used to be a prestigious product, but these days they are standard fare. So now, to differentiate ourselves, we have to put an emphasis on the product’s service or the uniqueness of the product that we’re trying to introduce into the market."

Teh says that one of the key aspects of the renewed push is the home integration market: "If you look at media servers, they can cost nearly £500. That’s an awful lot of money, especially in the current climate. We instead supply a router that can act as a media hub, so people can use their own laptop as a media centre, or if they so wish, they can buy a media streamer. But separately, they are a considerably cheaper proposition than buying one specialised device."

The firm is also pushing easy usage as a key selling point. For instance, it is looking to remove the need to remember IP numbers. "Instead of having to write down every device’s unique IP address, users can simply give the device a name and then enter it into the router and it will work. It’s all about making things easier to use."

The channel is also set to benefit from this approach" says Teh. "While the customer might still spend £500 on a solution, instead of a media server costing the same, and maybe only having a five per cent margin, you might have five £100 devices. That all has an eight per cent margin. It’s not hard to work out that the reseller can benefit from that.

"Customer service, product quality, price and the strength of our reseller partners all work together to influence the outcome of a product and brand. That’s why it is so important to pay attention to those factors." He was also critical of Edimax’s rivals who play the ‘price game’. "You can’t always claim to be the cheapest brand out there on the market; there will always be someone cheaper than you. So it’s important to focus on other factors, such as customer service and product quality, as well as the price you set your product at. Price competition is tiring and it is also unhealthy for the channel."

As for what the next 12 months hold for Edimax, Teh is optimistic. "This year, we want to become a Tier One rated vendor. We’ve seen significant growth over the years, and now is the time for us to establish ourselves as a Tier One vendor. We already have the products of a Tier One vendor, we just have to prove to our partners that we already are one."