CRN Exclusive: Rugged Tablet Maker Xplore Launches Revamped Partner Program

Rugged device manufacturer Xplore Technologies is aiming to ramp up its channel partner efforts with the debut of a new partner program featuring enhanced deal registration and increased investments in rebates, market development funds and discounts on demo units.

Xplore is the maker of rugged tablets including the XSlate R12, a Windows 10 device that the CRN Test Center found to have strong performance and design in a review last year .

Xplore also launched a pair of rugged 2-in-1 tablets earlier this year, and has plans for releasing "a lot more rugged solutions, not just tablets" in the next few quarters, said Debbie Russo, director of channel marketing at Xplore.

[Related: Review: Xplore XSlate R12 Is A Rugged Tablet With A Flair For Design ]

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The company isn't sharing more specifics on the product plans for now, but Xplore is looking to increase its investment in channel partners in advance of expanding the product portfolio, Russo told CRN. Xplore does all of its sales through the channel, but previously "didn't have a robust marketing program" for partners, she said.

"This year we're really investing in our partners to grow," Russo said. "We have over 300 partners. However, only 20 percent of them are in Platinum, Gold and Silver. What we're really trying to do is help those other partners grow up to Gold and Platinum status for us."

The new program, known as the Valued Xplore Partner (VXP) Program, will come with benefits including a 1 percent to 3 percent incentive rebate for Platinum and Gold resellers.

Xplore is also offering a 50-percent discount on demo units to partners, given that hands-on time with the rugged tablets is often crucial in the sales process, Russo said.

Additionally, Xplore will be offering a larger amount of MDF to all partners, with partners able to accrue up to $40,000 for the year, she said. And the company has enhanced its deal registration program to provide all partners with a "finder's fee" for registering deals, Russo said.

Jennifer Ward, product manager for mobile computers at Columbia, Md.-based Peak-Ryzex, an Xplore Platinum partner, said Xplore has proven that partners "are being listened to" with the latest changes.

"A lot of the changes they're making are reflective of what solution providers expect from a hardware vendor in the industry," Ward said. "We believe Xplore is making the right moves from both a product perspective and from a program perspective."

Peak-Ryzex focuses on serving verticals such as transportation/logistics and back-end retail with Xplore's rugged solutions, Ward said. Her firm's close relationship with people throughout the Xplore organization "has just helped us grow immensely" in its Xplore business, she said.

Ultimately, Russo said, the team at Xplore believes the new program will enable partners "to make a lot of money with us," including through selling Xplore products as part of a broader solution for customers.

"We really do go in not just with a tablet, but with the entire solution," she said, such as with a specific vehicle mount that is appropriate for the tablet. "We believe that we have the total solution for [partners] to be able to sell."