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Panasonic will roll out changes to its reseller program on a regular basis in response to partner feedback and to accommodate partners’ changing needs.
That’s according to Brandon Williams, Panasonic’s director of U.S. mobility channel. The program focuses on helping the company’s network of channel partners enhance profitability from the sale of its growing family of Toughbook mobile computers, 2-in-1s, tablets and handhelds.
Panasonic’s mobility business now has two separate channel programs. The Advantage Program includes the bulk of the company’s partners and allows them to sell its computers and tablets. The Edge Program, formerly the Rugged Handheld Program, is one of the company’s strategic growth areas.
“Given the strength of our portfolio and how low our market share is, we’ve invested a lot of resources behind growing our presence in the rugged handheld market,” Williams said.
In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Williams talks about the latest partner program changes and how his team is working to help partners formulate more profitable and stickier business models.
Channel Partners: What are some of the latest changes to the partner program?
Brandon Williams: This year, Panasonic began aligning its marketing efforts more closely with the channel. Marketing capacity is limited for many of Panasonic’s partners so we’re taking steps to ensure we have more consistency between Panasonic marketing campaigns and our partners’ and that they have better access to marketing resources and training. For example, our Prime Option partners (which only sell Panasonic products and equipment) now have the added benefit of cross-promotion on Panasonic social media channels.
We recently combined our reseller and distribution channel-management teams in order to improve alignment throughout the supply chain and channel. Panasonic is constantly evaluating ways to improve delivery times and this change will allow us to better ensure that product availability in distribution is more tightly aligned with the demand our resellers are seeing — and ultimately allowing our partners to get devices in the hands of our customers much more quickly.
Also, the Prime program itself has become more profitable, so what we’ve seen is a number of partners that were not Prime before that have reached out and have started to consider adding the Prime option to their participation in the program. So we’ve seen an expansion of our Prime program just in terms of the number of partners.
CP: What role is partner feedback playing in the various adjustments and changes made to the program?
BW: For the last year and a half or so, every change that we’ve made to the partner program has been an idea that actually generated from the partners themselves. One of the things we’ve really continued to get in the habit of doing is conducting what we call informal advisory council meetings with our partners, for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that our partners do like their voices heard, so we provide at least several opportunities a year to to actually sit down face to face in a room with our leadership and other partners to really be able to …