Interview: D. Akinshin for Distree Russia
by Stuart Wilson
Dmitriy Akinshin, general manager at TOTOLINK Russia.
Networking vendor TOTOLINK will showcase its innovative portfolio to channel partners at DISTREE Russia 2018. The country’s leading hosted buyer event for tech channels will give TOTOLINK the perfect platform to raise brand awareness and build new routes-to-market. Channel EMEA caught up with Dmitriy Akinshin, general manager at TOTOLINK Russia, to learn more about the company’s plans and objectives.
Channel EMEA (CE): What does TOTOLINK want to achieve at DISTREE Russia 2018? What are your key goals for the event?
Dmitriy Akinshin (DA): We know DISTREE is an event that attracts the attention of retailers, distributors and systems integrators. Since TOTOLINK brand is coming back to [the Russian] market, we have chosen this event to raise awareness of our brand and highlight our return to the market. Our team of professionals have extensive experience in the retail of networking products and we know what to offer to our customers – we know what they will love.
CE: What products and solutions will you be showcasing at DISTREE Russia 2018? What do you want resellers and retailers to know about your portfolio?
DA: At the event we plan to show our wide range of SOHO networking products, which mainly include Wi-Fi routers, extenders, adapters, SOHO/SMB Ethernet-switches. Also, we plan to launch a series of 4G LTE products, the portable MiFi router and a standalone solution for Home/Office use. We want to emphasise that our products not only meet the highest quality standards – our factory is certified under ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 production standards – but also that our software R&D department is constantly working on improving the software part of the products, which is very important along with manufacturing quality.
CE: Describe how TOTOLINK’s channel business has developed in the past 12 months? What trends have you seen and what have been the highlights for your business?
DA: Globally our sales were growing 30% year-on-year in 2017. We launched a new factory in Vietnam, we opened many representative offices throughout the world, including Americas - USA, South America and Canada – plus a Russian representative office. We have also launched a series of new products which includes 11AC routers with MU-MIMO technology support, and a Mesh smart Wi-Fi system called T10, which supports hassle-free configuration and easy-to-use interface.
CE: Which customer segments and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for TOTOLINK in Russia?
DA: Our goal is not only to sell our products through the major retail chain stores, such as M-Video, Eldorado, DNS and others, but also to work closely with resellers and online shops. Pricing policy of TOTOLINK will be affordable to any category of customers. We also plan to offer our 4G LTE routers to telecoms stores such as Euroset, Svyaznoy, Telephone.ru, and to branded operators’ shops like Know-How, MTS, Tele2, Yota, Megafon.
CE: Why should distributors, resellers and retailers stock and sell your products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?
DA: TOTOLINK offers good margin to all channel levels, whether it is a distributor or a reseller. Our plan is to maintain channel pricing policy and keep prices on the same level; our company policy is to offer a high-quality product with frontline technologies at an affordable price. Later on, we plan to develop a rebate programme, offering resellers incentive programs for sales increase. We are confident in the quality of our products, that’s why we offer a three-year warranty on all our products.
CE: Do you have a structured channel programme? Do you offer a strong margin proposition to your partners? Please explain this area of your business.
DA: Our channel programme will consist of two to three levels – distributor-reseller-retailer or distributor-retailer. Both ways will offer requested margin for any partners. The special prices will cover all expenses from the work with major retailers and exclude the situation of price drop. We fully understand the needs of the channel and market capacity and we will not push with the quantity, as other vendors do. Pricelists will be presented to all the channels in to maintain channel structures and our office will take care of pricing control.
CE: What sort of support do you offer distributors and retailers in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?
DA: Our representative office offers great support in all areas – marketing, sales and technical. Marketing will cover all aspects of activities, including PR and social media marketing. Our marketing specialists are ready to offer different incentive programmes, prepared together with distributors or retailers or solely by the representative office.
CE: How quickly is your business growing in the Russia region? What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business segment?
DA: We have seen great interest to our products, that’s why we decided to open a representative office. We have seen the request for networking devices at a reasonable price, and this is what TOTOLINK can offer to Russian customers. The networking segment was one of the few which has been growing in the past few years, despite the past crisis that impacted the IT market.
CE: Is your company channel-friendly? How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach/strategy in the Russia market?
DA: TOTOLINK is an open company and we are ready to discuss and hear our customers’ needs. Our representative office can get a share of the market due to deep knowledge of not only networking devices, but also the market price strategy, and the pros and cons of competitors. We know how to use our knowledge to satisfy market needs. In 2018 our plan is to start sales and gain a foothold in the market - to become one of the well-known names for networking products.
CE: What else should retailers and resellers attending DISTREE Russia 2018 know about your company and your products?
DA: ZIONCOM, the company which owns the TOTOLINK brand, was founded in 1998, so it has more than 19 years of experience in networking devices. Currently ZIONCOM has 82% of the South Korean market of SOHO products, and big shares across Asia. Globally, TOTOLINK sells to more than 40 countries and regions. We are confident that we have all the skills required to get significant market share in Russia.
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