A rogue by any other name

A rogue by any other name

One of the most difficult aspects of this industry is knowing what terminology to use. Seemingly obvious words and phrases tend to have multiple meanings. Even the title of this newspaper causes confusion.

The word "Reseller", in its broadest sense, obviously means a business that buys a product, not for its own consumption, but to resell, having added something. That something is presumably value, or convenience, or bundling, or timeliness. Given this sort of basic definition, virtually everyone in the channel is a reseller. Not only the end reseller, but those who live higher up the chain, such as distributors. Still, for practical purposes, and to avoid total confusion, let's use the term Reseller to mean those who sell to end users.

Wheeler dealer

We could have called this publication Computer Dealer World or something similar, but that makes two assumptions - that we are only interested in computers, and only a particular type of reseller at that. An easy way to visualise the channel is that it is like a pyramid. The vast base is the end-user community - those who use the technology and those who buy on their behalf. This is the only section of the marketplace we don't address. Above this come the various sorts of resellers, and above those are the distributors and service providers, and at the very top are the vendors, the manufacturers and their agents.

Obviously we're part of the problem too, because there's still confusion about what we cover. I still have to ask the question "Do you sell through resellers, or direct to the end user?" when approached by a vendor I'm not familiar with. It's not so much that I want to exclude anyone, but that I have to know how to cover a vendor.

Naturally, in most cases we're interested in product and services that flow through the channel in the traditional way. But we also talk about direct-selling organisations or those that need only a handful of resellers in the whole country, because this is important for a number of reasons. For instance, Masterpack sells systems it believes are essential for all distributors in this industry.

In the next few months we'll be conducting some research to find out what you think certain terms mean. Is an OEMer the company that produces the product or the one that takes it and prepares it for sale? Does Value Added equate to Vertical in all cases? What name should we give to store-front resellers who don't consider themselves to be retail? Yes, all this and more will be revealed.

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