WOW factor

WOW factor

Jason Kemp
Jason Kemp

Data Select is a renowned 12 year old mobile distributor, one of the largest in industry to be solely focused on the UK market. Originally established when boss, Peter Jones, teamed up with Ericsson to distribute data products and accessories, Data Select, part of the Phones International Group, has just weathered another recession and is still going strong. Head of marketing, Jason Kemp, explains…

After over a decade in the business, Data Select has over 200 employees and a turnover of more than £200 million. However, the company has been through a tough year, along with the rest of the mobile channel.

Although Kemp states the company was lucky enough not to feel the effects of the recession throughout 2009 when many businesses were left high and dry, 2010 has been a different story.

We want ‘wow’

He explains: “This year we definitely felt the downturn. In summer we always do well, but this summer our sales were definitely down year on year, due to economic factors, and also the strategies of many of the manufacturers; if you look at some of the key manufacturers, like Nokia and Samsung, they have been struggling and rationalising their ranges.

 

“Whereas before, every other month there would be a new ‘wow’ handset coming out, this year there hasn’t been, which is affecting sales to consumers. Ranges are being refreshed and updated, but companies haven’t been producing whole new ranges, so there has been less reason for people to change handsets. Everyone’s tightened their belts this year,” he notes.

Over the last quarter of 2010, Kemp also points his finger at component shortages, which have slowed down manufacturers abilities to get product to market in time to meet demand. “Our concern has been that if the stock shortages are serious, we can’t sell the handsets we could have sold, so we’ve been using pre-orders to help us source the right amount of product so our customers aren’t left out there with no stock.”

 

Neck on the line

Yet what makes Data Select stand out from the crowd is its willingness to put its neck on the line, states Kemp. “Our ability to try new things and not just think like a distie, but to try anything to help our supply partners, such as our exclusive range of JCB handsets, and making sure we do everything we can to help promote products with full support for each and every manufacturer, and our dealer partners, with things like end to end fulfilment services, makes us different.

“Our Platinum Club now has over 70 members, and everyone in that Club has a bespoke service from us, which could be the addition of a leaflet in the box of every phone that comes out, or as complicated as doing direct fulfilment to customers for them, planning ranges, and getting manufacturers’ funding for them. It’s that bespoke service that makes us stand out for customers,” he claimed.

Data Select will be increasing its fulfilment service throughout 2011, Kemp states. “The more we can manage the supply chain for customers, the more business gets easier for everyone.”

The business moved to its new distribution centre in 2009, and as of May 2010, the whole company moved under the same roof. Kemp adds: “The warehouse is only at 50% capacity at the moment, to there’s loads of room to expand, which is where we see room for fulfilment expansion.”

 

Hold that position

Data Select intends to hold its position in the mobile distribution market over 2011. Kemp says: “The key for Data Select in 2011 and beyond is maintaining our marketshare and control of the dealer channel, and keeping and developing our Platinum Club.

“In 2011, our JCB handset range is of key importance. We’re always looking to differentiate ourselves. Anywhere we can develop products, control pricing and the supply and demand of products, puts us in a better position, so anything we can get exclusivity on, from manufacturers or by developing our own product and effectively being in control of our own market, is good for us,” states Kemp.

He continues: “Our strategy is a case of getting closer to our customers and delivering a bespoke service. The tighter we are with our customers, the more difficult it is for our competitors to take our customers, and our customers get a better service from us. In my view, service is getting more important to our customers. For the sake of a few pence here and there, people aren’t interested in changing partners.”

 

New ground

Data Select is also on the hunt for new channels and customers in 2011. On new ways to market for mobile, the distie is looking outside of its traditional channels, Kemp comments.

He explains: “There are a number of businesses that can sell mobile, who haven’t traditionally, and that’s who we’re targeting. There are some hidden gems out there! We’re keeping those under wraps though,” laughed Kemp.

And new customers can also be found amongst the rubble of 2010’s mobile distribution acquisition trend, Kemp comments: “With each year that goes by, the distie market gets a little smaller. We’ve been around a long time, but we’re not complacent. We’re always looking to build our business; as the number of disties gets smaller, it opens up new opportunities for us, because with each buy or sell of a distie there are always customers up for grabs.”

He concludes: “People want a partner that’s here today and tomorrow, and our stability is a really good strength for us.”