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Merisold (to the man at the back of the room)

Merisold (to the man at the back of the room)

In an ideal reseller's world, any product you need would be automatically available. A customer asks for 10 workstations with full multimedia, and there they are, sitting in your dock, waiting for dispatch. Another wants a thousand, four-button mice for the entire staff, and they're sitting on a shelf at the front of your storeroom.

No, not only isn't it as easy as that, but even ordering what you need from the distributor doesn't guarantee that you'll get all you want, when you want it. In the US, with a number of broad-line distributors, each carrying much the same range of products, resellers have a choice. If distributor A starts getting slack, then you switch to B.

Now that Tech Pacific has bought (and closed) Merisel, there are two things that might happen. The first possibility is that Australian resellers will find that they need only go to one distributor for most of what they require, because this one distributor, Tech Pacific, has by far the widest range of products. The second possibility is that because it's by far the biggest, it develops antisocial habits, to the detriment of resellers.

Now these "bad habits" are only possibilities, but they could include things like not dealing with smaller orders, say under $1,000, or reducing the range of products available, because fewer lines mean greater profits, or letting delivery times or stock levels slip.

Tech Pacific is a much more introspective company than Merisel ever was. The famous Merisel SoftTeach is gone, and so, possibly, is Merisel's openness with the press. And most of the Merisel staff are now looking for jobs.

There's much speculation about what will happen next. Will Ingram Micro accelerate its push into the Australian marketplace? Will a number of ex-Merisel people try to start their own distribution company? Will one or a number of existing second-tier distributors rise to the challenge?

One thing is for sure, we'll all be watching Tech Pacific with interest, to see how it handles the first couple of months as "the big one".

Australian Reseller News notes the passing of Merisel with some sadness, having seen it develop from a twinkle in Verilyn Smith's eye almost 10 years ago. We also note the industry characters who have passed through Merisel over those years, moving to other pastures.


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