Retail matters

It's not often you get a dozen or so Middle East retailers sitting round a table debating vendor support.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  July 21, 2008

It's not often you get a dozen or so Middle East retailers sitting round the same table to debate the level of support they receive from vendors. And it's even more unlikely that you’d find a couple of vendors joining in the conversation.

That's precisely what happened when Channel Middle East hosted an exclusive workshop at this year's Digital Consumer Channel (DCC) event in Fujairah.

While vendors and retailers ultimately want the same results when it comes to success in the consumer channel, there are still many hotly-contested issues on both parties' agenda.

It comes back to the same issue. The smaller vendors don’t have the funds, they don’t want to spend in your shop. You have overheads as a retailer so you skip them and go to the big ones.

What follows is an excerpt of the lively and often heated discussion that took place in the DCC workshop.

What is your assessment of how well vendors engage with you as a retail company or with retailers in general?

Mahesh Chotrani: I really don't think most vendors are truly engaged in developing the retailer. They are more focused on volume than a good value proposition. Microsoft is doing a lot to establish connection, but there is no brand addition from key vendors like the HPs, Toshibas and Acers, for example.

It's more volume- oriented and there is an expectation from them that is solely volume-focused. The expectation is more than the requirement. The effort is on pushing inventory and the focus on pricing.

Hosein Shiva: Vendors are very helpful to us right now. They're providing the material we need as well as extra material in terms of software and what not. Vendors that we have been working with in Iran have been very helpful with us.

That's on the plus side. But we find it very challenging because the level of awareness from the market is not there and it takes more on our part to create awareness.

Pat, you work for vendor Pinnacle. How do you find working with retailers around the Middle East?

Pat Byrne: I think power retailers have big advantages in terms of budget, resources and space and they are not fully utilising this. For instance, if as a vendor you want to do something in-store to educate the end-user, the power retailer will ask you to contribute significantly to do that, which I think is a very short-sighted attitude on their part.

They should be trying to encourage manufacturers to regularly come and demonstrate their products.

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