Acer is likely to follow Compaq's lead and rationalise the number of resellers it does business withdirectly.
The move comes as Acer looks to increase its sales and marketing capacity in 1999, with an increased focus on the channel, claimed the company's managing director Patrick Lin.
This channel focus includes the appointment of Digital veteran Phil Dean-Jones as national channels manager. Dean-Jones commenced at Acer in early January with the responsibility of setting the strategy for the way it will do business through its channel partners, and implementing it through dedicated channel managers.
Dean-Jones explained: "part of our role is making sure we have the right mix of channel partners for the markets we want to serve. We currently have too many direct channel partners." He said that Acer is assessing its business guidelines for what justifies a direct relationship. "Given the infrastructure a vendor has to put in place to effectively service a direct relationship, a channel partner needs to be doing at least $1.5 million, just for us to break even."
Dean-Jones estimated that the number of direct relationships should be reduced to about 50. Acer currently has more than 100 direct channel partners.
"We need to be able to transition some of our channel partners to an effective model through leveraged distributors.
"Digital really set the benchmark for doing business through distribution and making it work effectively, and as much as I possibly can, I am looking to replicate what I know was a successful model."
He added that there has to be a very efficient communication system to ensure that those channel partners who will deal through distributors still feel that they have a direct relationship. "For all intents and purposes, they will still be treated like first-tier partners although invoiced and supplied through a different organisation than the vendor."
The plan will be to increase the level of fax, e-mail and Web-based communication, but minimise the direct contact with them.
New site to boost resellers
Outlining some of Acer's plans for this year, managing director Patrick Lin announced the company is moving into a new head office site at Sydney's Homebush.
Lin said Acer had invested $13 million on the site, which includes offices, warehousing and an assembly plant with a single-shift capacity to ship 15,000 systems per month.
According to Acer marketing director Charles Chung, the move coincides with Acer's renewed channel focus. He said that the company is intent on making the internal sales and marketing support, especially the Acer support centre, more unified and accessible to its reseller partners.
This will include an upgrade to its SIEBEL customer relationships management program.