Network distributor LAN Systems has launched its new e-business Web site and simultaneously attacked the notion of resellers using it to back-end their own online efforts.
Nick Verykios, LAN Systems' chief marketing officer, explained the site is designed to provide resellers with real time pricing, Web-based ordering configuration requests, order tracking and account queries.
The new e-business model called TransIT Online at http://www.lansystems.com.au went live early last week.
Verykios criticised an emerging industry trend where distributors provide the back-end fulfilment and service provision for its online-only reseller operation.
In particular, Verykios referred to a recent ARN story (September 1, page 1) in which Voice Trend Technologies has developed its own front end for Express Data's new Web site.
"There is no way we can do that to resellers, it's criminal," he said.
"Professional resellers don't want to be a mirror image of their distributor. They are technology service providers themselves, often with well-thought-out investments in their own Web sites. We don't want to replace or belittle this investment."
The main objective of TransIT Online is to reduce the cost of doing business with the company by moving more information and services online, he said.
Resellers can expect reduced paperwork and inventories, and shorter lead times in a departure from the vagaries of traditional distribution methods, the company claims. Verykios explained networking technology is too complex to allow a reseller to service its customers simply by using a distributor's site.
He said TransIT Online is actually capable of providing that type of interface, but the company's own research suggests its resellers did not want the service.
The key to developing sound channel e-commerce strategies, according to Verykios, is to add value to your business and don't "cross the line".
"There are now very clear lines between resellers and distributors," he said.
For example, distributors are well known for hot staging services for product rollouts while resellers must maintain close customer relationships.
An additional feature of TransIT Online is the site is to be customised for each reseller, providing specific vendor information and pricing levels for their business.