An Australian reseller is leading the charge against the vendor-direct online sales model, recently securing a single online order worth half a million dollars.
With many resellers struggling to milk any significant value out of their e-commerce initiatives, Volante has revealed it is reaping the benefits from its online service and delivery system, Customer Connect.
The news follows Volante's decision to take an equity stake in South Australia's largest IBM and Apple reseller CPM&S (see ARN, July 28, page 8).
Although reticent to disclose the customer's name, Wayne Morris, Volante's managing director, told ARN that the order, for a range of products, was from one of Volante's major corporate clients and represents a long line of significant online sales.
"It's safe to say we're getting up to $1 million per month from online orders," he said.
Targeting the high-end corporate and government markets, Morris said the reseller has over 200 of its major customers using the system through a Web browser interface.
This enables customers to place and track orders, view stock availability and negotiated pricing, find product information and specifications and view their account history.
But it was getting the vendors to join the party and invest in supporting the procurement system from their end which proved a challenge. "We had to push it with our suppliers," said Morris, who added that while the system cost Volante "a lot" to develop, the company had already made a return on its initial investment.
"We're very happy with it," he said. "It's unfair to say that the system is only worth 5-10 per cent of the business in terms of bottom-line sales. People use it for different reasons so the value it offers the customer is very significant. It's more like 30-40 per cent. Customer Connect is a true business-to-business e-commerce system."
"A lot of people say they do business online but our competitors aren't even close to what we're doing," said Debra Papworth, Volante marketing manager. "Customer Connect is special because of its huge database, which is updated hourly."