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Life in the Channel: Tech Data’s Matt Child

The distributor’s UK and Ireland managing director for Endpoint Solutions discusses its new Tech-as-a-Service platform and how Tech Data has bolstered its gaming and smart home ranges.

Tell us a bit about your background and your role at Tech Data…

My background is predominantly in private equity- backed tech companies – within both distribution and retail. Prior to joining Tech Data in July 2015, I spent eight months working outside of the industry as CEO at Leeds United Football Club and working in football club acquisitions and disposals; a very different experience in many ways but fabulous in terms of life skills and pressure management – you don’t want too many Leeds fans knocking on your door!

In my role as UK and Ireland managing director for Endpoint Solutions at Tech Data, I lead the PC, mobile, print, supplies, peripherals and Apple business units, alongside creation and development of our lifecycle services business.

Fundamentally, my commitment to the business is to grow profitably, keep ahead of the market and identify potential growth segments to deliver great value to our vendors and customers. We have a real customer obsession culture here, which is central to lots of key initiatives within Tech Data.

What is your team working on at the moment?

We have built a really strong and successful retail business over the last three years and developed some strategically important relationships with both premium high street retailers and major European etailers in areas such as the creation of physical warehousing/ infrastructure, integrated platforms, new services and exclusive propositions.

We’ve worked with forward-looking retailers at a truly deep level and we’ve seen that our most considered and thoughtful partnerships are also the ones that are the most profitable.

Services are also a focus. We have spent a couple of years and invested a significant amount of money to build our Tech-as-a-Service platform, which is part of our end-to-end lifecycle services proposition. This is a real statement of intent that will give resellers a fully- integrated, multi-vendor proposition with rapid credit checking that gives them the opportunity to win bigger deals, add services revenue and therefore enhance margins and provide a more secure and predictable source of income.

It also gives customers the opportunity to invest in the latest technologies under an affordable payment plan. Vendor side, it gives them increased volume and breaks down barriers to technology adoption, so everyone in the value chain benefits.

To build on our Tech-as-a-Service credentials, we have invested in a buy-back and trade-in business and we are building that capability out across the whole spectrum of technology that Tech Data offers. This means retailers can give customers great value on their existing equipment and access to affordable new technology and leave them in a cash-positive position.

It’s important to understand there are strict rules governing buy-back and trade-in and Tech Data will only work with best-in-class and authorised partners, so that all legislation is strictly adhered to.

Tech Data recently added a number of gaming systems to its portfolio. Is that an area that the company is focusing more on?

Both MEDION and ROCCAT have been significant additions for us in the gaming segment. Our PC gaming business has seen significant growth over the past year, and we will certainly be increasing our focus there. We will be adding more complimentary vendors when the time is right.

We’re also expanding our smart home portfolio with ranges such as Honeywell Home, LIFX and Lifeprint, so that’s very exciting. We are looking at key segments of growth to bring on well-established brands and also some newer, younger brands that have real potential for the future. We will back what we know is good business today and also look to work with the brands of the future – it’s not just about the big brands, but the embryonic players as well.

What challenges have Tech Data faced on the retail and consumer sides of the business over the past year and how has it addressed them?

Retail and consumer are a really challenging part of the market right now. What’s clear from a distribution point of view is that you can’t continue to have a simple transactional relationship with retailers. You have to look at unlocking the inherent value and opportunity within retailer business. They have a very demanding set of stakeholders and you have got to work closely with them to understand what both parties want. Not all retailers are up for that – some still just want the lowest price and highest return opportunities and they tend to be short-term.

With the best-in-class companies we work with, you have to invest, but you get the return back in the form of predictable income and new opportunities and propositions. There is no shortcut to success in retail – it’s about considered investment and placing bets with retailers that understand the value that you can bring – it’s not just about lowest price.

What does Tech Data have planned for the year ahead?

We will continue to build on the foundations we have laid in retail and work to develop those thoughtful and considered relationships. We’ll also double-down on the Lifecycle Services propositions and bring new services to market. We will maintain the momentum with our enterprise and SMB customers and ensure they receive a high level of attention as we further transform our business digitally and bring better solutions and education more quickly to market… and of course, we’ll do our very best to delight our vendors every step of the way!

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