Ingram Micro Event Stresses the Customer Connection
Ingram Micro’s Business and Consumer Solutions (BCS) Connections event drew resellers and vendors to San Antonio, Texas’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort April 2-4, where they heard good news from the distributor about the 2018 year in retrospect, and were filled in about initiatives to help them keep their bottom-line momentum going through 2019.
BCS Vice President and General Manager Craig Birmingham reported on a 2018 where vendor and reseller sales reached $8.4 billion, with resellers’ business up 15 percent year over year – “well above the herd rate,” as he phrased it.
He emphasized the need for resellers to continually “reinvent ourselves and embrace change… It’s important to work on our connections” in all aspects - with customers and vendor partners.
And the meeting agenda – from keynoter Meagan Johnson, who spoke about understanding and responding to where customers are coming from generationally, to vendor-specific and topical breakout sessions, to the Connections Showcase of vendors and their products – afforded resellers there plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Birmingham exhorted attendees to take advantage of Ingram Micro’s business intelligence data that would lead them to the right product mixes. He pointed to smart home/smart office and gaming – the latter, an area where global revenue, it is estimated, will reach $180 billion by 2021 – as burgeoning categories worthy of their attention. And he noted that the advent of 5G would present to them “a huge opportunity – an infrastructure upgrade opportunity” that they should be ready to grasp.
Ingram Micro, for its part, is bolstering dealer supports on all fronts, upping its field territories to six from five, by adding the Great Atlantic region to its coverage. It is also providing inside sales teams to each of the two coasts, managed by people dedicated to those regions.
On the emerging products front, Ingram Micro is poised to provide products and other solutions “for today and tomorrow,” said Alexandra Harding, director of vendor management. Categories include accessories to supply gamers’ needs, as well as 3D printing devices (demos were conducted by vendor Raise 3D Technologies of printers that can produce prosthetic hands and limbs), with 6.7 million units predicted to be shipped in 2020. “Are we having the right conversations with the right people? We need to be prepared. . . and to think outside the box,” she said.
Keynoter Johnson reinforced that latter thought in her talk, “Zap the Generation Gap,” a presentation that not only pointed out the differences between the most talked-about demographics – Baby Boomers and Millennials – but also advised on ways to manage the friction between these generations, and on how to customize approaches to these relationships, both in the workplace environment and between resellers and their customers.
The multiple breakout sessions showcased both manufacturers and special Ingram Micro programs focusing on financials, cyber security, and store- and image re-branding.
For example, at a special Samsung session, the company outlined suggested strategies that included ways to make sales-pairing of its sound bars with Samsung TVs a no-brainer for resellers, by giving the sound bars model numbers that coordinate with those of the TVs, removing the guesswork from the process. David Carter, vice president of U.S. channel sales for Samsung Electronics, says the pairing of selections dovetails appropriately with Ingram Micro resellers’ needs. “Dealers are looking for premium and we’ve delivered on our promise of premium, best-in-class products,” he said, “such as our 8K lineup with Quantum Processor 8K with 8K AI upscaling capabilities. Inventory turning is where Ingram Micro is critical to our success. They have all our models and can serve 98 percent of the country in two days or less. Ingram also has the foundation to work efficiently with these dealers – and Samsung brings high touch to the process. Dealers want it to be easy to do business, and that’s enabled by the Ingram-Samsung partnership.”
A diverse group of resellers on hand for the event viewed the wide mix of product- and strategy-oriented presentations favorably.
Harry Oster, president, and Sophia Segarra, technology specialist, in attendance from the 20-year-old Equipment Zone in Franklin Lakes, N.J., sell wide-format printers and said they were on board with Ingram’s expansion into the imaging solutions category about a year ago to help with serving their customer base, which includes large-screen-printing companies and ad agencies.
Steve Kleinschmidt, electronics manager/buyer for Lincoln, Neb.-based Schaefer’s told us that his relationship with Ingram Micro has benefited his business across categories, and that his Samsung business is especially strong, and meshes well with his store’s emphasis on larger-screen sales. “The 75-inch category is great for us, and that has effectively replaced 65-inch screens as a premium and prime viewing area for us.”
And Stephen Mays, executive vice president of Call One/Hello Direct, a large telecommunications reseller based in Cape Canaveral, Fla., said Ingram Micro is a “fantastic partner,” and credited the distributor with helping his company’s business “explode” in the 14 months of their relationship. “We had the largest quarter in Q3 of 2018 in the 31-year history of our company,” he said. “Ingram makes sure we network with the right connections.”
Look for an account elsewhere on this web site of our conversation at the BCS Connections event with Ingram Micro BCS VP and GM Craig Birmingham about present and future company initiatives.