Optima has announced a new reseller network to provide its dealers with better access to third-party IT and consumer electronics (CE) products. The news follows the release of its most recent financial results, which showed a net loss of $659,000 in the six months to December 31.
Chairman and managing director, Cornel Ung, said the 3Cshop agency would give partners access to third-party products that had not necessarily been available via traditional IT distribution. While independent resellers were eligible to carry commercial products, many of the CE products were restricted to larger retailers like Harvey Norman.
"IT dealers assembling or selling local PCs have been under a lot of pressure from the multinationals," he said. "We're looking to provide a business model that can help them acquire the buying power to access multinational products, as well as centralised marketing, to compete against big retailers."
3Cshop will predominantly focus on digital home solutions listed in a bimonthly catalogue distributed to members. The first is scheduled for early April. It would also provide joint marketing support and financial services.
Ung refused to disclose the names of any vendor partners involved because agreements were still being finalised. Participating vendors would be responsible for fulfilling reseller orders.
"We have talked to some of the major vendors in this space and think we will have strong support," he said. "The program fits with our three 'Cs' strategy of providing computers, consumer electronics and communications. To do this we have to provide more than just Optima products."
Although there were no current plans to create a 3CShop reseller brand, Ung said the company would consider introducing a franchise model in the future. He added the majority of its existing partners had already agreed to convert to the 3Cshop model.
The new reseller scheme is one of several strategies Optima has developed to combat financial problems. Despite recording a six per cent increase in overall PC shipments, the manufacturer saw total revenue drop by nine per cent to $45.6 million. This was down from $55 million in the previous first half.
Ung attributed the disappointing results to a pricing war in the desktop and notebook PC market. He claimed average prices of these products had dropped over the past 12 months by 20-30 per cent.
"Even though we tried to sell the Media Center Edition products with more value as a way of increasing our average sell price, the volumes weren't there," he said.
As a way of overcoming its reliance on system sales, Optima has also strengthened it focus on outsourcing desktop services. This saw it appoint several business development managers to concentrate specifically on boosting education and government services sales, Ung said. But although recording a 41 per cent increase in services revenue, it still represented less than five per cent of Optima sales.