The online direct model being used by IBM in the US is not the same as that being rolled out here, even though the local version now carries the same ShopIBM livery.
This is again the message from IBM's general manager of personal systems, Phil Bullock, responding to the recent launch of the ShopIBM Web site in the US.
According to Bullock, the situation remains, as he indicated earlier this year, that there is likely to be some business - he estimates 10 per cent - that IBM will invoice direct to customers, "but there will always be a partner involved".
The PC Shop has been in its pilot stage for several months, and after visiting the site (http://www.pc.ibm.com/au/shopibm), ARN can confirm that any order placed cannot proceed without either nominating one of the eight resellers listed or selecting "no preference".
The resellers fulfilling the orders generated from the site are Computer Gate (Vic), CPM&S (SA), Darwin PC (NT), Data #3 (Qld), Harris Technology (NSW), OPC (ACT), Stott & Hoare (WA) and Volante (national).
Bullock explained that the selected resellers have had to meet certain criteria, and that as well as geographic considerations, their reporting and proven track record of fulfilment capability qualify them to be part of the program.
It is not an exclusive list, according to Bullock, and the opportunity is available to other IBM partners.
Another IBM spokesperson, who has been in high-level strategy planning meetings last week, confirmed that the company had no plans and definitely no budget to set up its own fulfilment infrastructure in the next year.
"Our channel partners understand and can deliver the needs of the customers in their market segments. We have no intention of changing that," he said.
Wayne Morris, managing director for one of those partners, Volante, reported that the ShopIBM program was "quite a seamless process for us because we already had an electronic ordering system with which it integrates".
Rather than competing for Volante's existing customer base, Morris sees it as new business.
Business PCs, home systems, notebooks, workstations and servers can be ordered via the site.