Over the next few months, Hewlett-Packard is to establish its "electronic channel", a number of Web-enabled resellers which will fulfil those orders placed by HP's "savvy buyers".
HP Commercial Channels Organisation general manager Chris Greig predicts that, within three years, it will be another major channel for taking HP products to market.
Greig described it as a "mechanism for converting sales specifically in the mid-sized business market, and specifically for people who know what they want". He said that people who don't know what they want don't go on the Web to buy.
According to Greig, HP is proposing to build a full front end to capture the order, and electronic resellers will complete the fulfilment. "Customers want to be led through one consistent interface instead of going from site to site, which is like being shunted from store to store, which our research shows very often makes them leave," he said.
"We are intending to build an HP-branded Web engine where we can take customers who are savvy buyers, specifically in the mid-sized business market and some in the consumer segment, and lead them through a consistent buying experience," Greig explained.
While the development of Web sites for capturing and fulfilling orders is nothing new, Greig said that, just like traditional retailing, the most successful are those that are very actively marketed and recognised, so at the end of the day, they have the greatest traffic. "We can bring the HP marketing engine to the scheme and make our partners the fulfilment arms," he said.
Greig said that the partners HP accredits will have to set and meet the right service-level agreements in terms of delivery and the billing process. There was no limit to the number of resellers that can be linked, as long as they have the ability to meet the service level.
"I'd be surprised if we launched this with anything less than six partners, and I don't think there will be a problem finding them. They would need to have a capability and presence on the Web today," he concluded.