COMM SENSE

COMM SENSE

Stephen Higgins
Stephen Higgins, marketing director at Comm Sense
STEPHEN HIGGINS, MARKETING DIRECTOR, SPILLS THE BEANS ON WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE COMM SENSE

Congratulations on Comm Sense’s 10th birthday in November! How has the business evolved and grown over the past 10 years, and where can you see it going in the next 10?

It’s been an interesting journey. We’ve come from selling simple accessories to a complete range of phone and game products. We’ve grown from one person to 20 plus, £1 revenue to millions, from a small office in Watford to a 10,000 square foot warehouse, and a national and international customer base.

From a single phone we now have telesales, fax and internet based customer

services. And where once we were selling reactively, we now have a proactive marketing approach.

In 10 years we’ve come from being a sub distributor to ‘direct’ and we supply national multiples where once we supplied individual shops. Our product range includes, phones, SIMs, dongles, accessories and games consoles.

In the next 10 years we intend establishing Comm Sense as a major brand in the supply of personal communication and entertainment products. We’ll consolidate and expand into new national and international markets, albeit at a manageable pace.

What is your company’s USP?

We hold extensive stock as we are not just a broker, so delivery is fast. We are a one stop shop. Our staff are friendly, flexible and efficient with excellent product knowledge. They have a ‘can-get will-get’ attitude; no order is too big or small. We also have sophisticated tracking systems, which provide in depth analysis of our business activities and which our partners benefit from.

Where are you investing in or expanding your portfolio?

On products we are prioritising SIMs, dongles and accessories. Commercially we are developing new partnerships and channels. Our systems are being improved to provide wholesale and retail customers with an improved online service. We will continue to employ more of the right staff.

What is your view of the past year in distribution?

Consolidation sums up the past 12 months. Distributors have disappeared, networks merged and we’ve all had to face a tough market. New competitive pressures have emerged in the form of retail majors and other dis-intermediation initiatives, which challenge traditional independents. The industry has become more professional and we have had to develop new diversified routes to market. We are much stronger for it.

What is at the top of your company’s agenda for the next 12 months?

We aim to increase marketshare, international growth and develop brand awareness; partnership opportunities are important too. We plan on taking full advantage of the evolving smart phone market, which is rapidly bringing the personal communications and entertainment markets together. Our customers are vital and we will focus on keeping and developing our customer base and winning new ones.

What is happening in the SIM-free world? How has this area developed over the past 12 months, and where is it going?

We have identified three markets: Smart phones for business applications; smart phones for leisure with music players, cameras and internet; and basic, no frills phones, the cheap and simple handsets, some of which are refurbished and exported to growing new markets. Further mobile internet services and a new generation of SIM-based products are anticipated.

What are the most interesting trends you can see in the mobile gaming arena today?

What are the most interesting trends you can see in the mobile gaming arena today? across internet are a good example of phone and game convergence.

How can dealers make money out of mobile gaming?

Games margins are small, but markets are large and the games markets are evolving fast. Scale and distribution are essential. Price volatility caused by fluctuating supplies requires very close management attention to exposure and pricing. The accessories market is growing and is a ‘must have’ for the reasons explained below.

What do you see as the best mobile out there for business right now, and why?

The Blackberry Javelin Curve 8900 receives high marks because it provides value for money, long battery life, a good camera, good PC synchronisation and it has a keyboard.

Should dealers pay more attention to accessories, and why?

Certainly. Every phone sale should create additional sales. Accessories are always needed and they remain an excellent source of additional revenue. Shops should move with the times and benefit from the revenue opportunities of phone, game and iPod accessories.

Key personnel:

Stephen Higgins, marketing director, says: “Our market has changed, so too the technology, the commercial environment and the networks. A new generation of products and true mobile broadband have arrived and we look forward to 2010.”

Handsets:

Nokia – Samsung – Motorola – Sony Ericsson – BlackBerry – LG – Apple – HTC

Accessories:

As above plus: Nintendo – PlayStation – Parrot – BT – Jabra – Plantronics – many others

Services:

direct fulfilment – next day delivery – online management and tracking –merchandising customer care – self billing – commissions
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