Many IT channel organisations are floundering in balancing the demands of product fulfilment and value-added services, according to startup reseller Nicholls-Price.
In what could serve as a reference for future Web-centric resellers, the ambitious Nicholls-Price has launched its Sydney-based business with a mixed model of e-commerce and specialised value-add.
Its Web site (www.nph.com.au) provides online quoting and ordering for more than 20,000 products from Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, Cisco and Toshiba for the corporate and government market. The site is intended to become a portal to news and information as well as product details.
And while the Web site delivers product-based information, the real sales focus is aiming for a higher level.
According to managing director Mike Nicholls: "The last thing I want to see my salespeople doing is preparing quotes and proposals for hardware."
Nicholls said that the IT channel is struggling to find the correct balance of product supply and real value-adding services such as network design server configuration. And the other half of the partnership, sales and marketing director Glenn Price, claimed that there are far too many reseller organisations that lack the training or capacity to configure a server, and this is the type of selling activity on which modern VARs must focus.
The two are channel savvy, well connected and appear to be clearly focused. "While generating direct Web sales, we will leverage off the site quoting system in order to get into some strategic selling," Price explained. This is not selling by means of a clever strategy, but selling in an environment in which the considerations are about the customer's own business strategy. Although this is not a revolutionary concept, the Nicholls-Price business model was designed this way from the ground up.
Nicholls said that they are in the process of hiring what he described as good systems people with a sales orientation.
The plan is to also set up a virtual suite of specialist practices, calling on best-of-breed consultants and best-of-brand suppliers.
The growth of the configuration centre model means that a VAR need not touch a server or PC if the customer has the capacity to conduct or contract connection and deployment.