2009: Hardest year yet for MoCo

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It will soon be silver anniversary time for MoCo. The Kent distributor celebrates its 25th year in business next February and reckons 2009 will have been its most challenging and groundbreaking year yet.

Managing director Ian Robinson says the term ‘convergence’ was on some people’s lips from as early as 2005 but it’s only now that the true results are starting to materialise. He says MoCo wants to be known as a quality all-round performer in the distribution of products and services beyond mobile.

“In this industry we shout about things 18 months before they’re actually going to happen,” he says. “Convergence was on the 2005 calendar but it only became real towards the end of last year.

“BlackBerry, mobile broadband and data sales are second nature to dealers now. They make up almost half of their sales. More people are also using social networking on their phones. We have to become communication specialists and we’re well on the road to achieving that.”

The past year has been tough thanks to the recession and the introduction of the networks’ revenue share models, as well as the natural maturation of the sector. Robinson says establishing closer relationships with networks and dealers is now more important than ever.

O2’s revenue share model was launched a year ago. It represented huge change for its distribution partners, and many struggled initially to understand the budgeting implications associated with it.

MoCo is one of O2’s five Centre of Excellence distributors and was in the thick of it. Robinson defends O2, but suggests some lessons can be learned in terms of communicating clearly such massive changes.

“O2 tried to consult with us before the launch, and the principles of revenue share were okay. But perhaps, in retrospect, it launched too soon to the distribution channel; it wasn’t quite ready to be rolled out,” explains Robinson.

“And each distributor faced issues when interpreting it for their dealers. A longer period was required to properly communicate the change, and all that it meant for the dealer market.”

MoCo took the matter into its own hands. “We did a really good job. We arranged face-to-face meetings between dealers and O2 so they could voice their concerns. The pieces of the jigsaw had to be put together. The best way to do that was to get the network, dealers and distributors in the same room together to iron these issues out.

“We knew the principles of revenue share. But the execution of it, particularly to distribution, was too quick. That lesson was learned, which is why the direct dealers didn’t have to implement the system until January, whereas the distribution stockists had to do it in October.”

Despite the confusion surrounding the O2 programme at launch, Robinson thinks there are real advantages to the O2 model.

Full article in Mobile News issue 449 (October 5, 2009).

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