10 Years Young With Data Select

10 Years Young With Data Select

DATA SELECT

There will be fireworks at Data Select on the 5 November for all the right reasons, as the well known distributor celebrates its tenth anniversary. Much has changed in the 10 years since Peter Jones teamed up with Ericsson to distribute data products and accessories. From a small team operating out of a compact office and warehousing facility, Data Select has marked its tenth year by becoming one of the UK’s top mobile distribution companies.

Today Data Select has more direct manufacturer and airtime relationships than any other distributor, according to CEO, George McPherson. It is established in prestigious offices in Buckinghamshire, has a new, purpose built 120,000 square foot distribution centre, one of the most experienced management teams in the business and is a company still moving forward, despite the industry facing tough times.

Commenting, McPherson states that the mobile phone industry has been riding the crest of a wave since it took off in the mid nineties. He says: “Although there have been major changes to the way the industry has been shaped, the market has always grown. As a result, it has been relatively straightforward for distributors to build their business year on year as long as they have had solid foundations. However, in the last few years the market has reached a plateau and distributors are feeling the squeeze.”

New team at the top

Because of this squeeze, Data Select has recently undergone a management restructure that is set to take the company to new heights, according to McPherson. He comments: “Data Select is taking the necessary steps to ensure its long term growth and success. The new team can look strategically at the global telecommunications market and identify new opportunities. What this means is the company has a management team completely focused on the

day to day business.”

This new team is headed by Roy Taylor as chief commercial officer and Tim Eltze as chief financial officer. Peter Jones is now chairman, chief executive is George McPherson, and business development director is Angus Dawe.

“In terms of what this strategy will deliver, time will tell,” continues McPherson. “But what we intend to do is deliver new products and services to our customers and partners, and have a long term plan for the Phones International Group.”

The current economic climate is affecting all businesses, even a robust industry such as mobile, explains McPherson. “The global recession has had considerable impact on our manufacturer partners, with some shedding thousands of jobs worldwide. We’re working closer than ever with suppliers and customers to help keep the market bouyant with exclusive offers and promotions. An example of this would be the newly launched Ministry of Sound handset range. In addition more and more of our customers are now using our online ordering and fulfilment services, using our warehouse stock instead of having risk and expense of carrying there own.”

 

Platinum Club’s first birthday

“It’s been a tough few years for both dealers and distributors alike,” continues McPherson. “The key to being successful and staying successful is to have a unique proposition, be that in products, levels of service, price or otherwise. Also, you have to think like a customer; if your customers are looking at convergence, then you should be. It’s easy to become wrapped in day to day business and not see what’s coming around the corner, but if you don’t see the corner you won’t be ready to turn,” he added.

Initiatives such as Data Select’s Platinum Club are based around giving dealers critical information to not only make short term decisions based around new products, but also longer term decisions based around industry trends and new technology. “With input from manufacturers, new technology providers and networks, we are all helped in understanding the opportunities and jointly agreeing a strategy and technology roadmap that we can deploy to support the continued growth of Data Select and our partners businesses,” McPherson states.

Data Select’s Platinum Club, the elite tier of its dealer partners, celebrated its first anniversary with a conference on 9 October at the Hilton Metropole, in London. Attendees included 50 delegates representing Data Select’s key dealers, who received presentations from Samsung, Nokia, LG, Sony Ericsson, HP, Motorola and Microsoft to help them plan their business over the next six months.

McPherson comments: “In the year since Platinum Club began we have held four conferences, organised over 50 dealer training sessions, supported 75 dealer marketing campaigns and given dealers over 200 free handset samples.

 

We have launched a dedicated website and increased membership to the club.

“Platinum Club complements our key account strategy and is still unique in the industry, although we are flattered by other distributor imitations,” continues McPherson. “We set out to deliver a very special service to our key customers and have achieved that aim. Membership of Platinum Club is growing steadily, but it’s more about having the right type of dealers rather than a big number which looks good on paper.”

 

Onwards and upwards

Recent achievements for Data Select include launching a Ministry of Sound range of handsets, winning online business for Sony Ericsson, LG, Toshiba and Go Compare, expanding its Platinum Club and launching Talk Mobile SIM’s into ASDA. In addition its new 120,000 square foot configuration and distribution centre in Slough has become operational, and is forming the backbone of the company’s future plans.

On its strategy going forward, McPherson states: “Data Select is highly developed in its channel marketing strategy, with business units dedicated to key dealer, accessories, retail, comms and IT dealer, airtime and data and online channels.

“The strategy itself is very simple,” continues McPherson. “By understanding exactly what our customers need and the challenges they face in achieving their goals, Data Select delivers the products, services and flow of information they need. What that means in practice is that we offer high street retailers total category management solutions, Platinum Club and bespoke account services for mobile dealers and total online solutions including web development, ecommerce and distribution for customers such as Vodafone.”

He adds that as new markets develop, such as comms and IT dealers in the last year, Data Select will continue its strategy of dedicated business units to ensure it delivers the same quality of service and top class value added solutions.

This year Data Select has launched a Mobile Managed Services (MMS) division under the management of Andy Tow. “Combining our logistics services and our knowledge of mobile applications, the MMS division offers a range of mobile applications for security, productivity and for increasing device performance,” explains McPherson. “We’re excited about this area of the business, as mobiles become more sophisticated, the opportunity to provide software for these mini computers increases.”

This strategy is what makes Data Select stand out from the crowd, says McPherson: “Quite simply, Data Select is fully focused on the UK distribution market, working with UK based manufacturers, dealers and retailers. Data Select has not suffered from the distractions of international trade or grey market product over recent years. We pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity and professionalism, which is reflected in the relationships we have built with both manufacturers and customers.”

 
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