As Toshiba gets into bed with the big four retailers to take advantage of rising SOHO and consumer sales (ARN, July 7, page 6), smaller dealers should heed the signs that notebooks are increasingly becoming the computer solution of choice.
Retail market analyst GFK Research noted a 28 per cent increase in notebook sales last year through retail. Toshiba itself recorded an 83 per cent increase in sales from the same market.
It is these statistics which have spurred the dominant notebook vendor to launch an exclusive product and a targeted marketing campaign aimed at these emerging buyers, according to Toshiba's retail marketing manager, Aaron Blackman.
"It is an exercise in market expansion, rather than a shift of focus away from traditional notebook resellers," Blackman said, although he does feel they will quickly grab a significant share of the market.
"Our research shows the four retailers we are launching promotions with [Harvey Norman, Myer, David Jones and Dick Smith Electronics] represent more than 95 per cent of where the new buyers like to do their shopping.
"As that demand grows, obviously they will take more of the overall share," he said.
While this promotion is only for the big retailers at this stage, Blackman said Toshiba is not ignoring its traditional resellers, many of whom have retail premises. He said that while the exclusive product line and shelf display units were restricted, the Toshiba Freedom software program - an interactive sales tool which can be instigated by staff or customers - is available to everyone.
"[Smaller dealers and retailers] will have access to the full range of notebook and other Toshiba products and accessories as well as all the value-adds our distribution partners are offering," Blackman said.
"All they are missing out on is the shelf stand and shelf display, which is not much of an issue to the smaller guys. They are more concerned with getting access to inventory and not having to take the cost of holding stock."
According to Blackman, the big retailers generally buy their stock up- front for the product lifecycle, making exclusive configurations possible.