McPherson lets slip Data Select secrets

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Data Select managing director George McPherson has been knocking back face-to-face interviews with the trade press for nearly a year now, giving the impression he has something to hide. And he does – the development of strategies, programmes and new routes to market that should, he says, see Data Select survive the distribution squeeze he reckons will become reality next year.

McPherson makes no secret of having secrets.

“The difficult thing about talking publicly about our plans for the future is that people pick the cherries out of it, and think, ‘why didn’t we do that?’ We’ve kept quiet because people could see where we were going and that was giving them an indication of where they should drive their business,” he explains.

“What we have been doing over the last 12 months has put us in a very strong position today, as the second largest distributor in the UK. There’s no point moaning about how the market has changed. You have to understand that what worked yesterday may work in six months time, but it may not, so you have to be prepared to move on.”

Data Select’s dealer Platinum Club, which it announced just last month, is one of many initiatives it has introduced to create closer relationships between the independent dealer community and device manufacturers. While it kicked off with a core group of 20 B2B and consumer dealers, McPherson wants 50 signed up by April next year and a total of 75 just months from that.

Club benefits

Platinum Club members must uphold certain targets, and through regular forums with manufacturer representatives, will get a better insight into how to manage customer demand. Next year members of the club will be issued a new electronic point-of-sale system that will automatically re-order depleted stock lines. A by-product of the club (and not the reason for its being, McPherson stresses) is that it will aid the distributor’s efforts to lower the numbers of grey stock dealers trade, by helping them understand more about new device launches so there is less reliance on purchasing grey stock to cover product shortages.

Data Select’s head of marketing Jason Kemp explains: “It gives dealers a good sounding board to forecast what products are coming out rather than having to source grey market stock to satisfy consumer demand. We can work with manufacturers to get our stock numbers right and use UK stock, not grey stock.

“Sometimes an element of grey stock trading is required because of a shortage in UK supply, but if we can help with forecasting we can iron that out. Manufacturers are supporting the Platinum Club with a number of benefits and they’re not going to support products they haven’t sold themselves.”

It was grey stock, of course, that cost Data Select its UK distribution contract with Samsung in 2006. McPherson says the falling out with Samsung was temporary, and in the past. “We were challenged with some of the pricing we were seeing from Samsung in the UK,” he recalls.

“We didn’t lose our distribution agreement, we both just decided to take a break from each other. In the meantime we went about developing our channels and creating opportunities for Samsung that weren’t so price sensitive. Samsung worked on clearing up the pricing instability because of grey market imports, and then came out with a very attractive range of products at the same time.”

The contract was re-established this year, and the pair now work more closely than ever, according to McPherson.

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