It is easy to see why some resellers would be upset with the WebShop initiative being trialled by Synnex (see page 1) but there is no reason to believe it can't benefit all of the distributor's dealers in the long run.
While ARN was unable to get a detailed description of how the scheme works before going to press, the model looks to be one that would drive costs out of the traditional channel model and improve delivery times for end-users.
It would also reduce reseller concerns about holding stock in an industry where hot products are increasingly superseded by new and improved models within months. This is one of the channel's biggest bugbears today and anything that helps tackle that issue should be welcomed.
While one reseller has expressed concerns that Synnex is competing with its own partners, and even suggested it could spell the end of the channel as we know it, I think it would be likely to make resellers more competitive if it was successfully scaled up to include everybody that wanted to play.
It is easy to take this view when you don't make a living selling IT and your business hasn't been detrimentally affected. It would be harder to be so objective and take the longer view if you were competing against these new online stores.
But an initiative like this has to start somewhere and I think the wider potential benefits make this one worthwhile. As long as Synnex isn't taking a larger slice of the margin for shipping direct to end-users, and doesn't use the model to launch its own online retail chain, it looks like it could eventually be a winner for all concerned.
Whether sales are made via bricks and mortar or online, the role of the channel is secure because of its reach into the small and medium business arena. No vendor can effectively service such a fragmented and diverse market today and it is difficult to see that situation changing in the foreseeable future.
Elsewhere, congratulations must go to the Alstom IT team for successfully completing its transition from being a business unit within a large multinational company to a locally owned and operated distribution business (see page 1 of ARN, November 16 issue). To be known from here on in as itX, it has been a real success story that the Australian industry can and should be proud of.
Finally, it looks like the situation down at the docks is starting to ease and Christmas won't have to be cancelled after all (see page 4 of ARN, November 16 issue). While it has undoubtedly caused a few headaches and sleepless nights, everybody has been in the same boat (excuse the pun) and it looks like the worst of it is now behind us - with the possible exception of those involved in the project to install the new Integrated Cargo System.
Mitsubishi Electric is already on record as saying it might seek to claim costs once the dust settles. With that in mind, the Australian Customs Service and its technology partners could be tossing and turning in their beds for a little while yet. If Mitsubishi was successful in recouping costs, the line-up of importers behind it from a myriad of industries would stretch almost as far as the containers on Sydney's docks in recent weeks.