Good channel partners help you remain competitive


How do you identify a good distributor? It's certainly more than just helping the principal clock installations. Christel Lee from Print World Asia gets some insights from Tim Klappe, Managing Director of Norde Distributors International.

The Philippine economy reportedly grew 6.4% in the first quarter of 2012, the fastest since 2010 and already far outpacing the International Monetary Fund's forecast growth of 3.5% for 2012. The growth surge was driven in part by a recovery of electronics exports after a decline in demand in the previous year, while analysts say the economy was buoyed by strong domestic consumption. By the fourth quarter of last year, the Philippine economy had expanded 6.8%, lifted by a strong performance from service industries.

"About 70% of our economy is from consumption, so remittance is the key fuel behind that," said Haj Narvaez, Manila-based head of research for the Philippines at Credit-Suisse. "It drives consumption in malls. Even on the property side, the government estimates a third of remittances go into home purchases and rentals of properties."

The recently circulated news about manufacturers taking on more distributors indicates the industry is becoming even more competitive. Naturally, issues such as quality and support can be compromised due to fierce competition. That leaves many players having to negotiate between the pressing need for sales and good network coverage through distributors.

Tim Klappe, Managing Director of Norde Distributors International, is quick to point out what a good distributor does. Klappe says many printers in the Philippines have now embraced the entry of digital print and novelty printing has been the popular focus. "We have customers who have been able to produce nicely printed novelty products for the local market. Response has been phenomenal," he comments. Norde International is the exclusive distributor for Hewlett Packard's equipment in Manila, Philippines.

"In the Philippines, we are fortunate that the print industry is growing. That, however, does not cue us to be complacent. As a distributor, while sales are important, I feel it's imperative we extend the real benefits to the customers.

"That extra mile comes in the form of creative input. There are customers who would like to adopt new business models but lack the knowledge and expertise. That's where we come in to guide customers on achieving their goals - especially to transform from a traditional printer to a marketing services company. For instance, customers may have the technologies to produce a particular product. However the market is not aware that this customer is there. So we recommend web-to-print and digital marketing functions that place the company 'out there' to be known. The awareness is gradually built, and business will flow subsequently." he notes. Klappe adds for both for B2B and B2C, they like to say "We make digital printing happen".

This is not to say distributors have a cushy job. "As a distributor, we invest a lot of resources to build up the market. Every single added value means something which reflects on us, and the principal."