Trade talk: Q&A with Greg Whelan, Marketing & Product Manager at Apex Medical Ltd
In October 2020, Apex Medical Ltd (Apex) launched its new Partner Programme, aiming to enable more mobility retailers to access its rotational chair bed range.
With the community-focused initiative, launched just ahead of the merger of Nexus DMS into Apex Medical Ltd, seeing mobility retailers already signing up, THIIS caught up with Greg Whelan, Marketing & Product Manager at Apex, to find out more about the scheme.
THIIS: Why has APEX decided to launch a ‘Partner Programme’ around its rotational chair bed range?
Greg: “Nexus DMS had some great mobility products with fantastic functionality and quality, as well as really competitive pricing. As a smaller organisation, however, we didn’t really have the reach to promote these nationally.
“Now that the merger with Apex is complete, we have the capacity, and also ambition, to really shout about these important products. The Partner Programme is a great vehicle for this.”
THIIS: What was the motivation behind the ‘Apex Partner Programme’ initiative?
Greg: “I have actually been considering the concept of the Partner Programme for some time but now seems the right time to launch it with the backing and portfolio from Apex. It’s also some good news and a fresh opportunity for mobility stores that have been under such strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although there is great promise in the vaccines that are starting to be made available, we have all learnt that remaining at home and seeking to be as independent as possible can be important in lowering the risk of infection.
“The products that these important stores already provide help with these aims, where appropriate. We see that increasing the visibility of our rotational beds, which we are initially focussing on, is a helpful addition to many stores.”
THIIS: How does the partner programme work?
Greg: “It’s really simple. The partner has the choice of two options: referral or stockist.
“The referral option is a straightforward and easy scheme where Apex would take over the sales process once a referral has been made and provide the referral partner with a referral fee if the customer chooses to make the purchase.
“Alternatively, the partner could become a stockist. This sees the partner purchase their first product and then manage the customer and sales process, delivering the service and support directly to the customer and enjoying the value of the sale of the goods.
“The benefit of the programme is that companies can join initially as a referral partner if that’s more appropriate for them. They then have the freedom to move across to becoming a stockist when it’s right for their business.
“We are very aware of the fact that different organisations have different budgets so we do not want to exclude organisations who may have had a tough time during 2020 as a result of COVID-19 from being part of something that could be positive for them and their business in 2021.”
“We feel that the Apex Partner Programme is a partnership so we have to invest in them in the same way as they are investing in us.” Greg Whelan
THIIS: How has the scheme been received since its launch?
Greg: “We are delighted with the take-up rate so far. It’s early days yet but we have signed up and in the stages of signing up more than 50 new partners already, with many more that we are in discussions with as well.”
THIIS: Why should mobility retailers consider becoming a partner?
Greg: “It’s important to have trusted relationships in life and in business. Apex, as part of the global manufacturer Apex Medical Corp, can offer mobility retailers the chance to be considered part of our family.
“This allows them access to a range of innovative products that they might otherwise not be aware of. We also offer great service and support and, ultimately, all members of the partner programme will be able to add quality products to their ranges and find new retail opportunities.”
THIIS: What new retail opportunities can mobility retailers’ potentially find by adding the rotational chair bed range to their offering?
Greg: “Many people live long and full lives at home but, increasingly, we see that at certain stages in their lives people transition across into care homes. This leaves the mobility retailer with a customer less likely to require their products as they are catered for by the care home.
“The scheme provides retailers with access to a product that enables their customers to stay at home for longer. It enables the mobility retailer to retain them as a customer of their store.
“COVID-19 has had quite an effect on this sector, as mentioned before, so as an industry, we need to continue to step forward and offer products that provide important options in these challenging times.”
THIIS: Why is it important that retailers consider new revenue streams in 2021?
Greg: “It’s imperative to keep innovation at the forefront of the industry, whether it’s in the acute sector or the community sector. Mobility retailers partnered with innovative suppliers, such as Apex, can be a part of that. By doing so, not only can they help those with mobility issues in the community but also promote healthier lives and secure their businesses in the communities that need them.”
THIIS: What support can mobility retailers expect from Apex?
Greg: “We understand that our new and prospective partners need the tools to promote the products available in the programme. So, to that end, we supply, free of charge, the quality POS materials needed to promote the products, along with all of the necessary training and support that they need to professionally represent the products, themselves and the programme.
“We feel that the Apex Partner Programme is a partnership so we have to invest in them in the same way as they are investing in us.”
THIIS: How many retailers did you welcome to the scheme over 2020?
Greg: “We had around 50 partners for 2020, which considering this was only launched in mid-to-late October means it has been a great success so far. We certainly do not want to wish away Christmas but the team are really excited about coming back in the new year and meeting more mobility retailers to join the programme.”
THIIS: What kind of mobility stores are you looking for and is there any specific criteria to become a stockist?
Greg: “We have signed up independent smaller stores, as well as those with a larger presence and multiple stores in the UK. All of them, however, have one thing in common: Seeing the opportunity to be part of a programme that will grow and bring benefits that they do not want to miss out on.
“Those who offer excellent customer service are, of course, important to us as they become guardians of our brand reputation and championing our business ethos of integrity, professionalism and innovation.”
THIIS: What do you think 2021 holds for Apex and the industry as a whole?
Greg: “It’s an exciting time for Apex as we emerge from both the merger with Nexus and also as we hopefully start to move beyond this pandemic.
“As a company, we have innovation at our core. This is going to be important as we start to understand and match requirements posed by a return to normality that will, undoubtedly, be coloured by what has been learnt during 2020.
“We expect it to be challenging, however, we are really excited by what the next months will bring.”
Nexus becomes Apex
In June 2017, Apex Medical Corp. – the TWSE listed manufacturer of wound management and respiratory therapy products – acquired Nexus DMS Ltd. The purchase of the UK healthcare profiling bed specialist marked Apex Medical Corp.’s ambition to develop its offering in the community and acute markets. At the end of November 2020, Nexus DMS was merged into Apex Medical Ltd.
According to Apex Medical Ltd, combining both businesses allows for more effective and streamlined systems, aiding efficiency and productivity.