Transforming consumer networking
TP-LINK Middle East, discusses the plans it's implementing together with distribution partner Redington Gulf which are aimed at gaining more penetration in the market with the consumer networking business in Saudi Arabia
As the consumer networking market continues to mature in Saudi Arabia, Conrad Yang, country manager, KSA at TP-LINK Middle East, discusses the vendor's plans it is implementing together with distribution partner Redington Gulf which are aimed at gaining more penetration in the market with the consumer networking business in Saudi Arabia.
TP-LINK recently partnered with Redington Gulf in Saudi Arabia. How is that alliance developing in that country?
Conrad Yang: We are delighted to have partnered with Redington Gulf in Saudi Arabia as we believe the partnership will give us a lot of exposure and reach in the retail and traditional reseller channel. Working with Redington, the largest distributor in the Middle East means we are able to benefit from the company's strong partner network. The alliance with Redington in Saudi Arabia gives us better footprint as the distributor has a broad reach in that market.
How is TP-LINK supporting Redington Gulf to develop the market and channel business in Saudi Arabia?
Although it's still early days and will take time for this alliance to start bearing growth for us, we are delighted by the fact that the distributor has already started putting together a TP-LINK team within its own set-up. The discussions we have had so far are positive and Redington has hired a product manager who will be responsible for managing TP-LINK branded products sold in Saudi Arabia's retail and reseller channel. In addition, we have also been working closely with Redington to reach out to power retailer. In fact, we are already working with retail partners eXtra and Jarir Bookstore. We have also started to work with hypermarket stores like Lulu and we believe this will give us the maximum reach in the retail segment.
Given the size of Saudi Arabia and the youthful population in the country, what is your plan with Redington Gulf in terms of how you want to develop business there?
Saudi Arabia is a special market for TP-LINK because it not only has a large youthful population but also has a growing expatriate population. As a leading consumer, SOHO and SMB networking vendor, we have seen our products gain quick traction in both the retail and reseller channels. Together with Redington, we plan to raise the bar when it comes to supporting the partner base. In addition, we are working together to ensure the adoption of our solutions continues to grow especially with our new SOHO offerings. We want to leverage Redington's standing in the Saudi channel to take our business to the next level.
How has business been in Saudi Arabia given that the country heavily depends on oil revenues to fund most of its infrastructure projects?
Indeed Saudi Arabia's economy is heavily dependent on oil revenues. Given the sharp drop in oil prices globally, most IT projects have been impacted and business has slowed down generally. Also, big companies have experienced payment challenges in the last six months as a direct result of business slowing down. In terms of our own channel partners, we are in constant touch with them to ensure that they are not overstocking or under stocking products in the market especially now that business has slowed down. We have also reviewed the set targets to ensure that despite the competitive and challenging economic climate not just in Saudi Arabia but the Middle East as a whole, our partners are able to hit targets and claim their rebates from us.
Who do you consider to be you competitors in Saudi Arabia when you poll your channel partners?
Without doubt the main rivals in Saudi Arabia are Linksys, D-Link and Netgear. Our journey in the consumer, SOHO and SMB networking market is only beginning in the KSA market. We are by far growing much faster than our competitors and that has seen us gain penetration in sectors where we are winning at the expense of our rivals. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, we supply quality products that are easy plug-in-play solutions. Secondly, the channel support we are giving our channel partners has helped TP-LINK to up the game in Saudi Arabia and that has helped us to raise our focus in the retail and reseller channels. Now, we are planning to implement brand awareness campaigns to win the minds of consumers.
Why was it important for TP-LINK to sign Redington Gulf especially in Saudi Arabia?
Redington Gulf is the biggest distributor in the Middle East by revenues and has the largest channel partner network than any other distributor in this region. Having Redington as our distributor gives TP-LINK a wider market footprint and opens up the brand to work with retailers, resellers, VARs, systems integrators and solution providers. We believe this is a mutually beneficial for both parties as Redington now has access to the broadest SOHO and SMB networking products.
On the technology and product front, what new products can your channel partners expect from TP-LINK in Saudi Arabia this year?
This year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we unveiled the Talon AD7200 Multi-band WiFi router, the world's first multi-band router based on 802.11ad-the latest, most powerful innovation in wireless technology. We are the first vendor to have launched the 802.11ad router technology and our channel partners in Saudi Arabia and the entire region can expect to see these products being introduced in the market soon. We will also be launching our access points, broadband 3G products and mobile devices. Aside from the new products that we will launch in the market, we have developed a new strategy where we are offering support to our retail partners based on their need to serve their customers better.
How is TP-LINK supporting channel partners with training schemes in Saudi Arabia?
We take partner training very serious and currently have six staff comprising two Saudis and four Chinese helping us to rollout partner training to all our authorised retailers in Saudi Arabia. In addition, we use dedicated technicians who help retailers how to sell our products to end user customers. Going forward, we will be able to use Redington's resources to provide similar training to resellers, VARs, solution providers and systems integrators based in the Saudi market.
What do you see as challenges in the Saudi Arabia channel at the moment?
There is no doubt that the regional market is struggling at the moment and that has impacted most channel partners in the market as they are experiencing payment delays, prolonged sales circles and sluggish hardware sales. That said, TP-LINK is helping its partners to navigate these tough market conditions by ensuring that we have the broadest product breath, provide competitive pricing, incentivise partners and help them to develop local markets across the Kingdom.
What will drive TP-LINK growth in Saudi Arabia in 2016 and beyond?
While our business remains solid, we believe we will be able to grow more when we increase our end user brand awareness campaigns. With Redington now part of our distribution network in Saudi Arabia, we will jointly be rolling out programmes that promote the brand, our products and solutions, channel programmes and initiatives to partners and end users alike. We will be more proactive in the market to ensure that the TP-LINK brand gains wider market appeal and recognition especially in consumer networking as that's where the company is seeing a lot of traction.