Once again the good name of the Australian reseller community is being dragged through the mud, as another Government body expresses outrage at the number of consumer complaints directed at the channel.
This time it's the ACCC. At a time when almost every PC vendor is dipping its toe into the waters of electronic commerce and trying to figure out if and where they need an indirect channel, the timing couldn't be worse.
In this week's paper it is reported that both Hewlett-Packard and Acer have or will launch US Web sites which enable customers to buy directly over the Web. Now local officials may steadfastly claim that they are committed to the channel and that is does not relate to Australia, but you know as well as I do that if it works and if it means the vendor's bottom line improves they're going to do it.
Vendors only love the channel when it makes financial sense for them to do so. Take it as a truism.
Now let's assume that the US direct Web sites do work. Let's assume that Dell continues to gain market share. Let's assume all this because as Intel's Andy Grove proclaimed, only the paranoid survive.
Where is the typical Web shopper, who is looking to go online and purchase a PC, going to buy from? On the one hand you have a vendor. A big secure multinational giant that has poured millions of dollars into advertising, splashing www.vendor.com across everything from the television to the side of the bus.
On the other hand you have the reseller. Let's throw into this equation the fact that A Current Affair has just run another report on a "dodgy dealer" who has gone bust, leaving thousands of customers high and dry. That the ACCC and Department of Fair Trading have got up on the screen and screamed buyer beware yet again.
Again I ask you : who is the consumer going to buy from?
The Australian reseller community must protect its reputation. It really needs to do something and do it now. Perhaps it means some type of "reputable reseller" accreditation system or a regulatory body. Whatever it is, something is needed.
Resellers need to treat these latest concerns as a call to action. Do you have thoughts or ideas about how Australian resellers can protect their reputations? E-mail me at email@example.comChannelWorld '99Next week, the inaugural ChannelWorld '99 conference will take place at Darling Harbour, Sydney, in conjunction with the PC-IT exhibition. Increasingly, you will see Australian Reseller News launching what might be termed "value-added" services and events. Our business is to make your business better, whether that be through this newspaper, our Web site or through a conference or event like ChannelWorld.
Again, I'd invite you to e-mail me if you have any ideas about new services or events. If you're interested in attending ChannelWorld visit http://channelworld.idg.com.auI hope to see you there.