Data Direct is marking its 25th year in business with a concerted bid to boost its profile, engage with more dealerships and expand the business across the UK and beyond
The UK’s largest dealer only distributor of OEM and compatible toner and parts is geared for growth. Business Development Director Neville Haywood said that the company has a strategy in place that will see the business double within the next five years.
“For 25 years we have been the industry’s best kept secret,” he stated. “But we’re proactively setting out to change that. We currently transact with around 600 dealerships and we’re now looking to expand our reach UK-wide and further afield.”
Data Direct’s innovative thinking and customer-centred approach is designed to deliver time and cost efficiencies to its channel customers, reducing the amount of time they spend on back-office operations.
Haywood added: “As a 100 per cent trade-only distributor we understand the channel and its requirements. We promise to deliver the best product, the best quality, the best support, the best warranty and the best service, every time.”
The business was established in 1992 by Patrick Winterbotham. Haywood said that the company originally sold OEM toners and its business model was simple and effective. “In the early days, we simply sold and shipped toners direct to dealers, who held their own stocks and managed the fulfilment to end-users themselves,” he explained.
Knowledge and experience
The company enjoyed sustained growth year on year, and in 2008 made a strategic decision to expand its offer and transform how it did business.
“We invested heavily in people at that point and hired a number of heavy hitters to bring unparalleled levels of knowledge and experience into the business,” Haywood explained.
Key hires included Sales Director Marianne Chamberlain, who joined the firm from VOW with a brief to develop and grow the sales team and channel opportunities.
Data Direct also appointed Mark Appleton who had many years of experience in the compatible toners sector. He was formerly Managing Director at Parts Dept. and had also worked at PPC Supplies for some 15 years. As European Compatible Sales Director, Appleton was charged with finding the best quality compatible consumables in the world for Data Direct.
Another industry veteran Richard Fennell, who brought almost four decades’ experience to Data Direct, joined around the same time, with responsibility for developing and maintaining relationships with toner and cartridge manufacturers worldwide.
“Up until 2008, we had only ever sold OEM supplies,” Haywood said. “However, having made the decision to offer compatibles alongside our OEM range, we brought in industry experts to ensure that we would deliver world-class products.”
The company ended FY2016 with a turnover of £22 million in revenues from OEM and compatible toner and parts sales.
In 2011, Haywood joined the team and has played a key part in transforming the business from one that simply sold products into a services-based business.
Under his leadership, the company has developed a suite of value-add services from fulfilment bespoke packaging, fleet management and service management, which can be tailored exactly to meet the requirements of its customers’ businesses ensuring improved service and cash flow, and increased sales and profit.
PixPax: Consumables can be delivered direct to end-users through Data Direct’s PixPax, reducing stock holding, improving efficiency and increasing sales for dealers. Data Direct currently processes some 700 PixPax orders per day.
PIPS (Profit in Printer Supplies): Helps dealers increase revenue, reduce billing costs, get more prospects and sell products. This scalable software offers everything from simple print auditing, through to complete back office software integration and fulfilment via PixPax, across multiple vendors. The intuitive interface runs in Windows and enables resellers to set up schedules which are automated and viewed on a simple dashboard, providing information via a single pane of glass.
BridgeIT: Speeds up the toner replenishment process whilst enabling resellers to benefit from Data Direct’s greater buying power to reduce the cost of toner – both OEM and compatibles. As the name suggests the software ‘bridges’ the gap between the dealer’s service management system whether that’s Vantage, Purpose or any other and Data Direct’s system. Furthermore, purchase order numbers and delivery notes are automatically generated, reducing the cost and time for dealers to conduct business.
Data Direct App Library: This app enables dealers to instantly access and download parts and service manuals for any product. There are currently over 8,000 product manuals available at the moment.
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Data Direct offers its SIMPLY GREEN and SIMPLY RECYCLE recycling schemes which includes a toner collection programme, end-of-life machine recycling as well as custom solutions.
Simply Maintenance: Data Direct customers can leverage the benefits of Data Direct’s complete nationwide service offer that includes PDI and installation, training and full leasing facilities.
At your service
Data Direct is based in Finchamstead and has recently extended its warehousing to 20,000 sq. ft. “We hold up to £2 million of stock at any one time, we carry all OEM lines as well as the best compatibles on the market and it’s all ready to be shipped next-day to either the dealer or direct to the end-user,” Haywood said.
Importantly all direct deliveries appear to have come from the reseller. “We incorporate the dealers’ logo on the packaging and as the delivery notes are automatically generated, these too feature the resellers’ branding,” Haywood added.
The company has continued to invest in people, six new recruits have joined the team in the last 18 months. “It’s firmly our policy to offer unique solutions which enable our customers to become more successful, and we recruit and retain the best people in the industry to ensure we deliver on that promise,” Haywood said.
“And the fact we are now being approached by people who have worked for our competitors is testament to the fact that we’re making huge in-roads into delivering the very best service at the very best price,” he said in conclusion.