Tech Data Canada seeks new markets with mobility, e-tail push

Wendy Franklin, director of mobility and retail at Tech Data Canada

Wendy Franklin, director of mobility and retail at Tech Data Canada

Tech Data Canada has joined its fellow broadline distributor in adding new markets and new frontiers to its focus, introducing Wendy Franklin as its first director of mobility and retail, two entirely new fields for the distributor in Canada.

Franklin, a 16-year veteran at rival Ingram Micro Canada, will lead the charge towards the two new markets, borrowing from both her own experiences with mobile and retail customers at Ingram, and with the distributor’s experiences in the United States and Europe.

While Tech Data Canada has mostly chosen to stick close to the VAR market, in those other regions, it has a great deal of experience. Tech Data Europe launched mobility and retail focuses about a decade ago, and the U.S. followed in its footsteps about five years ago. That experience, Franklin said, will be a key differentiator for Tech Data as it looks to build out the new businesses.

“Some of our competitors have brought in skillsets through acquisitions, but Tech Data Europe’s maturity in this space, and the exposure they have, will help lead to the types of partnerships and relationships that we’re looking to strengthen,” Franklin said.

Among direct competitors, Ingram Micro has been the acquirer, purchasing mobility distributor Brightpoint most prominently. It will compete with Tech Data in both retail and mobility fields. Other rivals, Synnex Canada (mobility) and D&H Canada (retail) have been more organic in their efforts to expand those markets in Canada, although they too are borrowing on the experience of their US.-based parents.

Tech Data’s retail play is predominantly focused on the e-tail space, Franklin said, and comes more than a decade after Tech Data’s previous attempts to embrace the retail market. By sticking to e-tail, she said, Tech Data is sticking close to its own strength in drop-shipping to the end user, the predominant model for e-tailers.

Franklkn acknowledged that there’s a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation in growing the retail business – to get the right vendors on board, one must have the e-tailers signed up, and to have the right e-tailers signed up, one must have the right vendors on board. But she said the company is making inroads on both sides, and will soon be able to announce “two exclusive net-new retail vendors that we’re bringing to the channel,” as well as signing on key e-tail partners.

“There’s a lot of interest in the retail channel because they know the relationships that Tech Data Canada has in the VAR channel, and they’re excited about having those kinds of relationships,” she said. “It’s imminent.”

On the mobility side, Tech Data has offered mobile device activation for some time, but is looking to expand its mobility model both to new types of channels (carriers and mobile-focused dealers), as well as increasing the mobile footprint of its more traditional IT solution provider customers.

“We’re definitely very interested in supporting VARs who are loyal Tech Data customers in the IT space, and are recognizing the same convergence we’re recognizing,” Franklin said. “We’re going to be doing training exercises for those customers no doubt.”

On the vendor side, the distributor has already added one major new addition to its mobility lineup, in the form of an exclusive deal with MDM and mobile productivity player Good Technology, with whom Tech Data is “in the throes of launch as we speak,” Franklin said.