The modern distributor goes beyond providing just components to its reseller partners. Instead, solutions that tackle real-world challenges in specific vertical markets are key to driving customer success.
This is the philosophy behind Partnertech, which provides solutions in the hospitality, retail, healthcare and logistics environments.
“”We are long past the days when distribution was about moving boxes, says Minanto Johnson, who heads up Partnertech in South Africa. “That was the old distribution model, and if we try to do that now we will fail.
“We can’t see the customers as just a customer any more, we have to be strategic partners and together align ourselves to offer complete solutions to the end customer.”
Partnertech is an affiliate of Corex. It shares premises, warehousing and logistics, but operates as its own vendor and distributor. It is 100% channel-focused, Johnson stresses.
Partnertech has its roots in point of sale (POS) technology in the hospitality and retail world. The company now considers itself the pioneer in technology that improves the user experience and processes at the point of contact in the Internet if Things (IoT) era.
“Everyone is talking about IoT,” Johnson says. “IoT is the inter-networking of physical devices (also referred to as ‘connected devices’ and ‘smart devices), vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
“It has some practical applications in the hospitality and retail world, where everything a salesman or floor manager does on his tablet, mobile or smart device that is already connected to the Internet, links up to the server and the cloud, where it can access data in a live environment.
“With IOT and living in a ‘connected’ world, business transactions, invoicing and product information is available anywhere so standing or sitting behind a fixed station is not a necessity anymore.”
The company’s product line-up covers the categories:
- Point of sale – various terminals, all-in-ones and modular POS computers;
- Mobile – personal data assistants, mobile printers, mobile computers and payment terminals;
- POS peripherals – customer displays, scanners, printers, cash drawers, MSRs and monitors;
- Electronic shelf labels;
- Digital signage – commercial displays and ruggedised media players.
“We are pioneers in all the product areas that we specialise in, and pride ourselves on designing the future,” says Johnson.
In fact, Partnertech was the first vendor to produce a compact touch terminal, and was first to market with fanless POS technology. It also pioneered the true all-in-one POS device as well as tablet-docking POS.
“We listen to our customers and develop technology specific to their needs,” Johnson says “Research, listening and development plays and essential role in the innovation cycle.
“Testament to how serious we are about leading the market, 6% to 8% of our annual revenue is directly invested in R&D spending, and this helps to maintain our technological and business process leadership.”
Partnertech Africa currently focuses mainly on the POS market, but will soon expand into the i-logistics and i-healthcare markets.
“We are comfortable about growing our business into these verticals,” says Johnson. “We already have strategic partnerships with vendors that lead in these fields.”
Because Partnertech is a leader in the IoT arena, it already has a wealth of technology and expertise there, he adds. “IoT is all about connected devices. Whether we are talking about POS, mobile POS, warehousing, logistics or healthcare being connected is already present and then is a must for future technology and innovation.
Currently both logistics and healthcare generate a lot of paper, resulting in duplication, wasted resources and a greater potential for mistakes due to human error.
“Think of a hospital today: there are sheets of documents next to the bedsides where information is written out and then transferred to the hospital information system (HIS) at a later time,” says Johnson. “This wastes time and increase the room for error.”
Going forward, Partnertech envisages a barcode for each patient that will link to all that patient’s information. “Nurses would have medial computing devices which can scan the barcode and get access to all the available information. It would be a lot more secure and data would be accurate and available immediately.
“The same technology would offer all information to the doctors via a bedside terminal. This terminal would incorporate television, Internet, skype and a nurse calling system, all operated through a single infotainment terminal.
“This will allow the doctors to carry X-rays around on smartcards rather than printed films. Doctors can go to the bedside and open all information on the bedside terminal with every bit of information and updates regarding the surgical processes right there.
“Because everything is digital there is no room for error or duplication, and it is much more efficient with one set of information following the patient from checking in until he leaves.”
The existing Partnertech product portfolio is already suited to i-healthcare applications as well as i-logistics, Minanto says.
“These vertical markets are all remarkably similar in the sense of technology and hardware need. For instance, there are so many applications for a barcode label printer in stores, warehousing and hospitals.”
Because Partnertech is a channel-centric organisation, it is looking for new partners to take the technology into the new vertical markets.
“We need to work with system integrators; preferably people who are already operating in these environments,” Johnson says. “There is a lot of integration with existing systems, so we are working closely with the system integrators. There are so many opportunities to create partnerships with system integrators, smaller operators and also software companies so we can supply a full solution to the end user customer.”
History of Partnertech
Partnertech as a global company was founded in 1990 to manufacture auto ID.
It quickly shifted its focus to point of sale (POS), and between 1994 and 1997 strengthened its expertise in the POS market. In 1997, Partnertech became the first Taiwanese company to develop a touch POS terminal.
In 2008, Partnertech launched the first all-in-one POS device with an integrated printer. In 2010, the company launched a cutting-edge enterprise tablet with a POS base.
In 2011, Partnertech entered the South African market, with COREX as the sole distributor of its hardware, sold under the POS division in COREX.
In May 2014, the company spun out of COREX, and Partnertech Africa was set up as a branch of the global company.
Also in 2014, Partnertech concluded a global strategic private equity deal with QISDA, which now owns 68% of the company’s shares.
The QISDA group includes BenQ, Partnertech, Darfon, Lextan and AUO, offering a range of synergies and opportunities for all the group companies.
QISDA group reports revenues of $25-billion. It has more than 80 sales and marketing offices, more than 10 000 patents and 100 000 employees – 33% of whom are in R&D. They have won more than 200 industry awards.
Partnertech has regional offices in 10 countries, with 12 service and support centres, and 12 warehouse and repair centres. These regional offices employ more than 300 people.
In South Africa, Partnertech Africa has regional coverage with offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, employing 14 people. Local revenue was R55-million in the last financial year, having grown every year since the company was established in 2014.
Partnertech values its identity and holds to three core principles: care, trust and responsibility.
“We care by acting seriously on the needs of all our shareholders,” says Johnson. “Trust means that we keep our promises. And we take responsibility for a better tomorrow.”