Leading Edge still converging

Leading Edge still converging

IT resellers don't have to be submerged in the audio visual (AV) business in order to make the most of the convergence trend, according to Leading Edge Computers general manager, Ross Whitelaw.

Commenting on the merging of the consumer electronics and IT channels, he said it was more important for traditional IT dealers to focus on transitional technologies that linked the product sets together.

"It's not often people go into a store and buy their PC, plasma, and home theatre system in one go," he said. "Resellers should look to provide transitional [technologies] - like wireless networking - which helps customers move to a media centre platform.

"These [services] can be hard to get from your mass merchants."

The subject of whether to embrace convergence for the future will again be the main theme of the group's upcoming national conference, to be held in Auckland in April.

Whitelaw said he would also use the conference to introduce its new basic store concepts.

The store models will now be offered in three scenarios: IT specialists, IT and communications stores, and IT and AV shops.

"We're not trying to out-do the electrical guys, but we want to have a specialised presence," Whitelaw said. "We also want to service all of the equipment we sell: we're not there yet."

Leading Edge Computers now has 143 stores across the country, signing an additional nine members to its network last year.

Although the group is still planning to increase its numbers, Whitelaw said he expected to stick to a maximum of 200 dealers.

Total sign-ups had slowed because he had become more selective with the types of dealers it sought to work with.

"We need to ensure that retailers have a point of difference that is powerful enough to make us a success in the market," he said.

Specific criteria Leading Edge was now looking for from its potential members included a strong business model, sizeable market share, room for growth and viable plans for the future.

The group would also continue to focus on enlisting members located in regional markets.

"The stores have got to be the best in the town - mediocre is not good enough anymore," he said.

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