Ingram Micro will this week announce an agreement to outsource the services of its pcOrder.com technology.
PcOrder.com designs and manages applications that allow companies and users to custom configure and purchase products online.
When the deal is completed, sometime before the end of this year, Ingram's reseller and end-user customers will be able to configure, modify, check for availability, and order more than 145,000 different products, including PCs and servers, directly or indirectly through Ingram.
"It's a procurement application that will sit on a PC in the purchasing department and automate the requisition and approval process," according to pcOrder.com chairman and CEO Ross Cooley.
In most cases, the order will be sent directly to Ingram, which will ship it to the customer in the name of the reseller.
As the size of direct channel grows, companies such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, all of which use Ingram in the US as a distributor for their products, have moved ever closer to the direct-sales model.
PcOrder.com will actually administrate the service for Ingram as an outsourced supplier.
"Our database knows who has what stock, what works together and what doesn't, and interprets it," Cooley said.
The knowledge base for that interpretation comes from PC manufacturers such as IBM and Compaq, which have been feeding availability and configuration information to pcOrder.com for some time, according to Cooley.