Hypertec was the first computer manufacturer, in March last year, to bring build-to-order to the reseller channel. Although it announced the closure of its PC business last month, general manager of sales and marketing Colin Lillywhite says Hypertec's experience with build-to-order was highly worthwhile.
He believes the manufacturing plant was incredibly efficient. "We were taking orders and delivering PCs to our resellers within three days, and from what I have learnt, absolutely nobody else is doing that," he said. "That was not just something off the shelf, it was a PC with variables configured exactly to how the customers want it." Despite this, Hypertec's North Ryde manufacturing plant will cease production in Easter. "We pulled out because we couldn't get our volumes sold in Australia up to the levels that allowed us to be profitable and sustainable in that product line," said Lillywhite.
He added that quite a few of the "big guys" have expressed interest in the operation. "Since we've announced we are going out of the business, we've had almost every major manufacturer in Australia come through our assembly lines to have a look. It is a state-of-the-art line - they are all extremely interested in how we are doing it," Lillywhite said.
"We were the first people to bring it to the channel so the resellers had to get used to the fact that there were no set models that they had to sell, they could sell whatever they wanted and we would build and supply it. Because we were the first, one of the hard things was getting the resellers' sales people to comprehend the whole concept of build-to-order - that they didn't have, say, four or five models on a price list and that they could actually configure whatever they wanted for the customers.
"There was clearly a lot of interest in the end- user community for this sort of concept where they could actually say 'look, this is what I want', so it was about choice really," Lillywhite said.