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INTERVIEW: Mitesh Shah, Mitsumi Distribution

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 17 June 2014

Mitsumi Distribution is participating at this year’s DISTREE Africa and will use the channel event to increase brand awareness for its iSurf tablet PCs. Mitsumi will look to expand the regional reach for iSurf tablet PCs, recruiting new channel partners to help it achieve its goal. Channel EMEA interviewed Mitesh Shah, managing director at Mitsumi, to learn more about the company’s plans.

Channel EMEA (CE): What does Mitsumi want to achieve at DISTREE Africa 2014? What are your key goals for the event?

Mitesh Shah (MS): iSurf tablet PCs, distributed by Mitsumi Distribution, are already established as a leading tablet PC solution for customers’ various needs in the sub-Saharan Africa region. iSurf has a wide variety of tablet products for every segment that encompasses consumer applications to enterprise applications.

Having achieved success in the sub-Saharan Africa region in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, Mitsumi Distribution is now looking forward to expanding in the Middle East, and Central, South and North Africa regions.

iSurf’s focus is now on Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Zambia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Cameroon, DRC, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Angola and Ivory coast among other countries. For this we are seeking distribution partners for win-win relationships.

CE: Tell us about the iSurf portfolio Mitsumi will be showcasing at DISTREE Africa 2014? What do you want channel partners to know about your portfolio?

MS: iSurf’s range of 7”, 8”, 10.1” and Educator series tablet PCs will be offered and showcased during the DISTREE Africa event. iSurf has developed specialised tablet PCs and solution packs that meet the needs of e-classroom, e-school and e-university set-ups. We are also quite encouraged by the response we have got from different educational institutes where our solutions were rigorously tested and are now being implemented in various countries across Africa.

Mitsumi is introducing iSurf 2-in-1 tablet PCs that are the ideal tool for on-the-go productivity with Intel Inside and Windows 8.1 and Office 365 preloaded with licence keys.

CE: Describe how your channel business has developed in the past 12 months? What trends have you seen and what have been the highlights for your business?

MS: Mitsumi now has more than 300 dedicated iSurf resellers in sub-Saharan Africa region for consumer tablets in form factors of 7” and 8” sizes. The channel partners are now seeking solution and application-based devices. Our focus is to bring the right product with total connectivity to the African consumers.

We have been working very closely with Intel, Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm, operators, financial institutes and content providers to bring a total offering to our customers.

The ecosystem built around the iSurf product portfolio provides enough choice and variety for customers to make the right selection for them.

CE: Which customer segments and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for your company in Africa?

MS: The youth generation of new Africa is showing signs of preference towards tablet devices due to their mobility, use of technology, always-on connection, internet connectivity, social media usage, personal entertainment and many more life benefits.

From the total population of approximately one billion in Africa, we expect 20% to embrace additional mobile devices such as phablet or tablets in addition to their smartphones. Our immediate goal is to reach 25 countries in Africa by 2015 with iSurf products and solution packs to deliver the benefits of internet on-the-go to customers and enterprises.

CE: Why should distributors, resellers and retailers stock and sell your products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

MS: Mitsumi has a strong distribution network spread across Africa with sales, marketing and post-sales support resources in place. The products are packed with the best features in the different form factors are offered at competitive prices to customers.

CE: Do you have a structured channel programme? Do you offer a strong margin proposition to your partners?

MS: Mitsumi believes in a structured channel distribution network and enjoys working with more than 2100 partners forming a supply chain funnel including regional distributors, stockists, resellers, and retailers.

Mitsumi believes in developing product demand and passing on the leads to channel partners to serve the customer needs, forming a win-win partner ecosystem.

CE: What sort of support do you offer distributors and retailers in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

MS: Mitsumi has integrated marketing campaigns ready for the channel partners. The smart deployment of marketing tools such as demo tables and devices, flyers with partners’ names, merchandisers, pop-up banners, in-store branding, PR campaigns, participation and sponsorship of various events, plus road shows and an activation programme that helps the partners to get better customer traffic to their outlets and generate more business.

CE: How quickly is your business growing in the Africa region?

MS: Mitsumi has captured 10% market share of mobility business in sub-Saharan African markets and is aiming to grow its business at 20% year-on-year. The established channel framework has been nurtured and strengthened time and time again to ensure the supply chain is an efficient business pipeline.

CE: What are your overall channel goals and aims for 2014?

MS: Mitsumi has achieved more than US$320m business through its channel partners, who have also benefited from this huge turnover per annum that has been routed through them. The go-to-market strategy is to create demand and use the channel partners to fulfill them. We aim to create 10% more business for each partner through iSurf product offerings in 2014.

CE: What else should distributors attending DISTREE Africa 2014 know about your company and your products?

MS: Mitsumi also distributes popular IT brands like Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Sandisk, WD, Philips, Polycom, APC, Linksys, Tripplite, Riverbed and Fluke Networks among others in many countries of East, West and North Africa.

Channel EMEA is an official Media Partner for DISTREE Africa 2014

African channel partners interested in discussing business opportunities with Mitsumi executives can pre-schedule one-on-one meetings at DISTREE Africa 2014

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