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Ingram Micro’s strategy to elevate its partners in the coming year

Expanding into adjacent markets and increasing partner investments are just some of the distributor's key focus areas for 2009

Ingram Micro Canada used its Elevate 2009 Marketing Symposium event yesterday in Toronto to outline and discuss with its vendor partners how it will help them remain competitive and successful during today’s challenging economy and beyond.

Tim Billing, vice-president of vendor management at Ingram Micro Canada, said although today’s Canadian economy is facing very “uncertain and challenging” times, the distributor, he said, is well positioned to work closely with its vendors to help weather the economic storm.

“We have over 400 vendors in Canada and over 1,000 in the U.S. competing for mindshare,” Billing said. “How will we win together with mutual success? We’re abandoning the one-size-fits-all model because we realize vendors differ in their expectations of what type of relationship they want with us.”

Some vendors want Ingram Micro to fulfill the traditional distributor role, while others look for a more strategic relationship where strategies can be developed and put in place around solutions that target specific market segments such as SMB. It’s important for vendors to choose which kind of relationship they want with Ingram Micro, he added. It’s also important for its partners to recognize that there has been a shift in how things are delivered to market.

“There’s been a shift from selling commoditized products to selling solutions that meet consumer and business needs,” Billing said. “This requires a different kind of marketing, selling and solutions-based approach to position products as part of a larger solution.”

Mark Snider, vice-president and general manager at Ingram Micro Canada, said the company will help enable its VAR partners by extending its focus into adjacent markets, therefore bringing in new revenue opportunities. At the moment, the distributor, he said, sees growth in areas such as consumer electronics and digital signage, data capture and point-of-sale, components, managed services and mobility.

For the 2009 year, Billing said Ingram Micro will be <a href="http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/Home/News.asp?id=50373&bSearch=True" target="_blank" better leveraging its Chicago distribution centre to enable the company to further expand on its vendors’ product line cards. Furthermore, Ingram Micro, he adds, will work to reduce its aged and excess inventory by conducting more timely engagement and collaboration with its vendor management and purchasing teams.

“We’ll also be driving more buy-in opportunities, purchase, rebates and discounts,” he said. “Our approach typically in the past has been reluctant and a bit conservative with buy-ins. Now, we’re trying to reach out to you because we’re open for business.”

Ingram Micro has two North American communities that help its VARs and solution providers stay competitive in the market. Carol Kurimsky, vice-president of marketing for North America at Ingram Micro, said the company’s SMB Alliance is made up of 4,000 members, 1,000 of which are Canadian, mid-sized resellers. Typically, these solution providers target the small and mid-sized end-users

The VentureTech Network (VTN), she explained, is made up of 420 members, 70 of which are Canadian. These are larger resellers that typically target mid and enterprise-sized end users, she explains. By partnering with VTN, sponsors can increase their brand awareness amongst the leading solution providers in the community.

“If you really want to get out and meet resellers, you (the vendor), need to be covering a broad area to communicate and engage with as many of them as possible,” she said. “The future is now and in order to drive growth, you need to do this through the alignment of members, manufacturers and Ingram Micro.”