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PC World Kenya urges vendors to change approach

by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 11 June 2015

Bobby Gadhia, CEO at retailer PC World in Kenya, has urged technology vendors to change the way they approach African markets. Speaking during a panel discussion at DISTREE Africa, Gadhia said: “Most vendors are hungry for business in Africa, but the most important thing now is for them to shift from a product and price approach and to start building real channel relationships in the region. Copy and paste strategies that work elsewhere may not work here, so a great deal of localisation is needed.”

PC World operates a network of stores across Kenya. Gadhia believes that if vendors started to enhance their reseller and channel programmes in Africa then they would start to see their volumes increase.

Gadhia commented: “Vendors need a clear strategy and need to engage with African channel partners more often. I’m based in Kenya and if I need to talk to an account manager and he is based in Ethiopia that is of no use to me.”

“A lot of vendors only execute 50% of what they say they are going to do. There needs to be greater clarity between vendors and retailers – especially as the channel wakes up to e-commerce potential in Africa,” he added. “Vendors need to start listening more to what retailers are experiencing on the ground in Africa.” The poor quality of post-sales service available to consumers in East Africa remains an issue in the market.

Gadhia explained: “Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are high volume markets but services is an issue. Even in Kenya we are not getting the service quality we need. Vendors need to sort out post-sales service delivery in these markets first, before going to smaller markets.”

He continued: “We’re saying to vendors, ‘no more boxshifting in Africa’. Get the service delivery right and then start pushing volumes – not the other way round. Vendors own their brand, not us [retailers]. If vendors don’t invest in their brand, why should we?”

Vendors also need to reassess the product mix they are pushing into East African markets and understand that consumers do not always want low cost products.

“There is a misconception from vendors that Kenya is a market for low cost products and vendors are not working with their distributors to bring premium products into the local channel,” explained Gadhia.

The Retail Voices panel formed part of the conference programme at DISTREE Africa 2015.

Media Partnership

We are pleased to confirm that Channel EMEA is an official Media Partner for all DISTREE events in 2015, including DISTREE Africa.

DISTREE Africa 2015, which takes place from June 10-12th in Nairobi gathers together hundreds of senior executives from the region’s leading ICT & CE e-tailers, retailers and distributors. Readers requiring more information about DISTREE events in 2015 should contact events@channelemea.com.

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