By: Swaminathan B

khalid

Western Digital acquired SanDisk in recent years. Till recently, the companies were operating through separate channel partners but with this integration, it will have an integrated channel ecosystem. In a recent interaction with Channel Times, Khalid Wani, Director – Channel Sales India, Western Digital, shares the company’s channel plans for the India market. Excerpts.

CT: Please tell us about your company’s presence in the market in recent months.
Wani:
We create environments for data to thrive. Everywhere data lives, we’re there to drive the innovation necessary for results today and the future we will create tomorrow. New devices, new systems, new solutions, all optimized and tuned to create the right conditions for data to realize its full potential.
We provide solutions for personal data storage in form of USB drives and data backup options
like My Passport and My Cloud Home as well as solutions specific to diversified usage in different
scenarios. In the last few years through mergers and acquisitions, Western Digital, which was
earlier a leader in the hard drive space, now has a large and a much more diverse portfolio of
solutions to offer.

Almost half of the world’s data being stored in Western Digital products. For
storing data in large volumes (Big Data) and later for analytics, we offer our customers with hard
drives of large capacities that can be used for the archival of this data, for data centers. We also
have enterprise grade surveillance solutions which suit India’s surveillance needs, such as drives
that can store 4K high-definition content from CCTV cameras. Further, the amount of digital
content created by media companies is increasing rapidly, driven by more number of projects,
higher resolution, and use of mobile and social consumption platforms. Storing these increased
volumes of data, along with ease of access and use, is critical not just for professionals but also
for gamers. Thus, we also have a range of internal SSDs and HDDs, which meet the needs of the
gaming industry and allow for a seamless gaming experience.

CT: What is the current channel format you are working on and what are you planning to explore?
Wani:
In terms of channel formats, we are present across e-tail, large format retail, and channel distribution models. These range from small and big stores, online selling platforms and our distribution channels.

CT: What are the key channel plans for your organization in the coming year?
Wani: For us at Western Digital, it is critical that the correct information is fed to the channel ecosystem. To ensure this, we plan measures such as training and education programs for channel partners through various mediums including in-person, online, and via mobile apps. Further, Western Digital also targets different regions of India by organizing get-togethers,
programs and workshops. An extensively enabled ecosystem for our channel partners has led for
Western Digital to be known as a channel friendly organization.

CT: How many direct and indirect channel partners you have?
Wani:
Western Digital has focused on channel distribution, and SanDisk also has a robust channel
ecosystem. For our brands WD, G-Technology and SanDisk, our channel ecosystems have been
operating separately up until now. As the integration of these brands is completed, they would
be operating as one company. The distributors and channels for Western Digital have a diverse
portfolio of products for this year. In terms of educating the ecosystem, we intend to foster a
better understanding of the right products catering to the customers’ requirements.

CT: What is your distribution model?
Wani:
WDC has significant store presence across India. Our distribution networks also extend to small retail stores and big stores, such as Croma and Reliance. Our strategy also focuses on having a strong online presence, such as selling on Amazon and Flipkart. Further, our back ends are run
from our distribution channel. A strong backend process, wherein our sellers find it attractive to
sell our products to consumers.

CT: Which channel of retail (online or offline) has worked best for the brand?
Wani:
WDC not only has store presence across India but also a strong presence on online selling platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart. In this sense, we give equal importance to e-tail, large format retail and channel partners. From small retail stores to big stores, our back ends are run from our distribution channel and ensure seller profitability as well.

CT: What are your expansion plans and new categories they plan to enter?
Wani:
The growth in flash adoption has been a driver for the growth of storage. We design our products to ensure that consumers can handle their devices easily. Our smart products like Dual-Drive, iXpand, thumb drives, C- flash, My Passport and My Cloud Home etc are some examples. Next, as real-time video in capture, editing, post-production and distribution is demanded by organizations in the media and entertainment industry, this segment also generates a large volume of data. Further, the government of India has started Smart City initiatives, with the
implementation of video surveillance systems, for which we have surveillance solutions which
suit India’s surveillance needs. We are also very confident on our SSD range for gamers as well.

CT: What new marketing or service strategies have you adopted for your consumers and retailers?
Wani:
We have always focused on boosting consumer satisfaction, and recently we revamped our customer service policy to enhance customer experience, reduce turnaround time, and provide a more comprehensive and valued experience.

Western Digital will offer customer support through 25+50 service locations spread across India, out of which 25 are over-the- counter points (OTC). These will have the necessary infrastructure and trained workforce to ensure product authentication and provide an On-spot replacement for end consumers. The remaining act as drop points for consumers with faulty products, offering them with the flexibility to drop off their products and get a replacement unit delivered to their specified address within an applicable time frame.

Through this seamless integration across touch points, we aim to reduce the time to process requests from customers and improve the accuracy of information and increase customer satisfaction as well as add more value to our partners.