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OCS outlines channel priorities

by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 7 June 2012

Russian distributor OCS has developed a strong reputation for its in-country channel breadth and reach. OCS is attending DISTREE Russia & CIS later this month, reinforcing its commitment to both its vendor partners and also its channel customer base. Maxim Sorokin, president at OCS, explained the company’s rationale for attending DISTREE Russia & CIS and provided an insight into OCS’ business strategy and future plans.

Channel EMEA (CE): What are OCS’ three main reasons for attending DISTREE Russia & CIS? What do you hope to achieve at the event?

Maxim Sorokin (MS): The three main reasons for our participation are partners, trends and prospects. DISTREE Russia & CIS gathers under its roof the biggest players from different market segments - ven-dors, distributors, resellers and retailers. So, it’s a great opportunity for communication with col-leagues. OCS frequently adds new product lines to our portfolio so the circle of partners we have also widens. DISTREE Russia & CIS is an opportunity to strengthen our existing business contacts and also a chance to establish new business relationships. The DISTREE brand is renowned for high quality events and we always strive to attend them. For example, several months ago we participated at DISTREE EMEA and OCS received the 2012 EMEA Channel Academy distributor of the year award for Russia and CIS.

CE: Can you give us an overview of OCS’ current business activities?

MS: OCS is a broadline IT distributor cooperating with numerous vendors. We work with channel part-ners in several areas offering different kinds of products - peripherals, components, PCs, telecoms, storage, active and passive equipment, software and consumer electronics. We work with the world’s largest vendors and with leading Russian manufacturers. It allows us to promote only the best productsto our channel partners. At the moment, OCS’ range includes 160 product lines.

The breadth of our product portfolio guarantees that each OCS partner gets everything they need. We are able to offer not only products, but complex solutions as well. These solutions can be ‘built’ within OCS meaning partners avoid multiple contacts with many suppliers in search of the equipment required for a project. By cooperating with OCS, partners waste neither time nor money.

We develop each OCS product line thoroughly, considering its own market specifics. We’re always open to new products, but we don’t linger and wait for new products to arrive. We search for them because we understand that innovation is the most important thing in the IT market. Innovations determine the growth of the IT market. We are often the first Russian distributor to offer to our channel customers a new product or solution. Our resources, experience and strong relations with the channel also allow us to put together exclusive offers.

CE: What sort of opportunities do you see in the Russian market at present?

MS: We see potential in each local market and also look at the potential for each product. This positive approach to business development is really what sets us apart as a distributor. Of all the distributors operating in Russia, we believe we have the widest partner network, which now includes more than 9100 channel customers – and this number continues to grow. This growth is driven by the breadth of our portfolio and our business development activities across Russia.

Cooperation with partners

CE: Why is working with OCS an appealing proposition for channel partners?

MS: Our main strength is the ability to make cooperation with OCS comfortable and easy for partners. We are always interested in understanding a partner’s specialisation. Do they work in the corporate or retail market? What kind of products do they offer to end-users? How big is their business? Where is it located? Knowing the answers to all these questions means we are able provide them with the best offers available in the shortest time. OCS’ vast resources allow us to meet any specific requests. The chain of OCS offices stretches across the country from Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok. We are able to support every partner no matter how far away from our head office they are.

Our interaction with channel customers is not limited to goods delivery from one geographical point to another. OCS employees’ qualifications allow us to offer professional advice and support; not only for volume products but also for corporate solutions. OCS operates demonstration centres and organises training, webinars and seminars to improve the skills of channel partners.

We have a strong market position based on the largest partner network, a multi-branch regional net-work and extensive product range. We are strong because we care about our business partners. Every time we say ‘I’ll help you’ to our partners and do it, we strengthen OCS’ market position. Each ‘yes’ is an investment in our future.

CE: Do you have structured programmes in place to support your channel customers?

MS: Yes, we have a structured channel programme. It’s an overall support programme created for partners to facilitate growth and the expansion of their business. But our partner programme approach is specific to the needs of each partner. None of the ‘paper plans’ can convey all the details of our ‘real-life’ business practice. If you really want to support your partner you should be ready to go beyond the set limits of a programme. You should know how to manage the situation when it gets unfamiliar or develops in an unexpected way. There are non-standard issues that demand non-standard solutions. You should know how to handle them but you cannot develop those skills in several months. This business approach is the main principal underpinning our approach. Each OCS employee knows it, accepts it and implements it. We have many programmes for the benefit of partners and we develop and change them according to market demands, but our support is not limited to these frameworks.

CE: What sort of support do you offer partners in terms of marketing, promotions and demand generation?

MS: We always pay particular attention to marketing support. This includes special promotional pro-grammes, partner events and conferences, plus PR support. We cooperate with the leading Russian IT magazines and websites. Our goal is to make each event we run and each text we offer them useful, interesting and creative. It is important to keep our partners excited and prevent our promotions from becoming mechanical actions – they should remain thrilling competitions. Partner events are also excellent opportunities to talk to our customers and discuss issues in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.

Our extensive product portfolio helps us with demand generation. For example, for our complex solu-tions we can offer our partners a solution that contains three different products. The first product is a base unit and the other two supplement it to create a complex solution. Our technical expertise plays its own part in demand generation. Our employees are high level specialists and professionals and their expertise is available for everyone during project implementations.

Moving into CE with MT-Trade

CE: What have been the major developments for your company in Russia & CIS in the last year? What do you have planned for full year 2012?

MS: 2011 was a very successful year for OCS. We grew faster than the market as per usual with OCS’ sales increasing by 49.6%. The number of channel partners we work with was up by 12% and currently includes 9100 companies from 620 cities and towns in Russia.

We started selling 20 new IT product lines and, most importantly, we entered the consumer electronics (CE) market. OCS bought MT-Trade – one of the oldest CE distributors in the Russian market. This increased our product portfolio even further by adding 40 CE product lines. We also broadened our geographic presence by opening regional offices in Kaluga and Vladivostok.

Today our main task is to grow further; to develop established product lines, to work on the new prod-ucts and to strengthen our position in the CE market. We will continue to identify new trends in the market.

One of our main tasks is to maintain strong and stable channel relations. So, we always strive to be open and to be ready for compromises. We try not only to listen to, but to hear our partners as well. We understand that effective cooperation is based on the balance of interests.

CE: What key messages do you want to get across to retailers and resellers attending DISTREE Russia & CIS about OCS?

MS: 18 years ago when we created OCS Distribution we set a goal: to become the perfect distributor. Even now, almost two decades later, we cannot say with 100% confidence that we have completely attained our goal. We have great experience, we have proved our ability to develop in different environments and we have become one of the leading Russian IT distributors. However, even today we continue to search for way to make something even better. We see our company’s future in creating a favorable infrastructure that supports our partners’ businesses.

DISTREE Russia & CIS gathers together the most powerful market players and allows us to consider the future of the market – perhaps this is one of the most important elements of the event. I would like to wish everyone that attends this year a successful participation and I hope they identify some new business prospects.


About DISTREE Russia & CIS

DISTREE Russia & CIS is the region’s premier annual channel event for vendors looking to manage, build or launch channels in this strategically important market. Leading retailers, resellers and distributors from across Russia & CIS attend the event, allowing vendors to accelerate their channel development and drive business success acrossRussia & CIS.

DISTREE Russia & CIS operates a unique business model based on an ‘invitation only’ event format, offering a compelling mix of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, keynotes, awards and networking opportunities for vendors and channel executives operating in the Russia & CIS region. For more information, visit www.distree.com/ru.

DISTREE Russia & CIS 2012 takes place at the Pulkovskaya Radisson Hotel in St. Petersburg from June 21st to 23rd. To apply to attend the event, please contact fsimard@distreevents.com quoting reference code DRU12.

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