Great expectations

Bill Liu, regional manager – Channel Marketing and Sales Division at Plextor outlines the company’s channel development plans for the Middle East and North Africa region.

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Great expectations
By  Manda Banda Published  September 22, 2013

Bill Liu, regional manager – Channel Marketing and Sales Division at Plextor outlines the company’s channel development plans for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Channel: What is Plextor’s channel strategy for the Middle East region?

Bill Liu: The key pillar for our channel strategy is guaranteed profitability to all channels with a clearly defined margin structure. We are focusing on controlling the market selling price, so that healthy margins are maintained and the channel stays profitable working with Plextor. We are are cautious in our approach as we intend to work with a selected number of channel partners to maintain decent margins, as well as avoid doing random business in the channel market. We believe that after-sales service support is key to the success of Plextor in the region, hence, we are assigning regional service centres to offer the maximum support to our channel partners and end-users. Apart from the various channel initiatives we are implementing, we are also putting more effort on generating demand from end-users via attractive offers and guiding them to our preferred channels.

Channel: What is your vision for the Middle East digital storage market and how do you cover this geography?

Bill Liu: The digital storage market is going to grow and the solid state drives (SSDs) market will be one of the fastest growing segments in the storage segment. We are expecting the total market size for SSDs in the region to reach 100,000 PCs by 2014. We plan to appoint new channel partners and distributors to increase our footprint in the region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar will be key markets for us.

Channel: What has been Plextor’s focus for 2013 with your channel partners (distributors & resellers) in the Middle East region?

Bill Liu: We have focused on increasing awareness about the Plextor brand, educating the channel about the benefits of SSD technology and how easy it is to upgrade any desktop or laptop using hard disk drives (HHDs) to SSDs to enhance performance. Training partners and upgrading their skill-sets is another prime focus area for us because this enables them to offer better service to end-users. We have also expanded our product portfolio and launched new products in the region with the Plextor M5P xtreme series being the latest product to hit the Middle East market.

Channel: How many distribution partners do you have in the Middle East region?

Bill Liu: Currently, we are working with FDC International as our authorised distributor for the region, although we are planning to add more in-country distributors to increase our penetration in the market and to give better support to our channel partners.

Channel: Last year, the Middle East IT market witnessed unprecedented business in the storage space. How is Plextor raising its brand in the region?

Bill Liu: Plextor is a well-known brand in the region and to further increase the visibility of our brand, we are planning to run marketing campaigns that will help position us as one of the leading SSD players in the market. Besides, marketing initiatives, we also intend to educate channels and end-users about the advantages of using Plextor SSD technology to drive further demand in the region. To give first-hand knowledge of Plextor manufacturing capabilities, we plan to take our key channel partners to Taiwan to visit our factory.

Channel: Has Plextor launched its channel partner programme in the Middle East market?

Bill Liu: We do have a channel partner programme, but we are yet to unveil it to partners in the region. We will be announcing it officially soon and it will include a rebate programme and special incentive schemes.

Channel: How many tiers does the Plextor partner programme have and how can partners join the programme?

Bill Liu: We cover the whole of the Middle East and we are looking to have more in-country distributors. Part of the channel partner programme will have the official partner portal for the region. In the meantime interested partners can contact us via email at to register and enroll into the programme even before the official Middle East launch.

Channel: How challenging has the Middle East storage market been for Plextor in the last three years?

Bill Liu: The biggest challenge for Plextor has been the low adoption of SSD technology in the Middle East as compared to the rest of the world. The shift from hard disk drives (HDD) to SSD has been quite slow, but we believe once our channel programme is rolled out and with the increased efforts to educate both channel partners and customers, we will see a lot of positive traction and hopefully this will lead to more business.

Channel: What is your perception of the storage market in the Middle East at the moment?

Bill Liu: As the regional storage market has continued to grow, SSD solutions will make the most of gains than HDD technology and will remain stable for some time.

Channel: Who do you consider as your biggest competitor in the Middle East when you poll your channel partners?

Bill Liu: I believe Intel and Kingston are our main competitors but in fact with Plextor M5P xtreme series, we have a unique product in the market that will help us expand our market share going forward and give us the competitive advantage we need in the region.

Channel: Out of the technology solutions that Plextor offers the regional channel, where do you expect the most growth?

Bill Liu: We expect Plextor M5P xtreme series to drive the biggest growth for us in the region and it will be our focus product for the rest of the year and beyond.

Channel: What can your Middle East channel partners expect from Plextor in the next 12 months?

Bill Liu: The channel should expect better margins, effective channel initiatives that will help them increase their revenues. Smart rebate programmes accompanied with aggressive promotions, training workshops and more brand awareness campaigns targeted at end-users to drive demand for our offerings in the market will be rolled out.

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