HP is to hold all printer hardware in Australia in a move that will level the distribution playing field, according to imaging and printing group (IPG) general manager, Christoph Schell. The vendor will now delay a planned review of its distribution strategy until later this year.
To date, only 10 per cent of these products have been warehoused in country, with distributors placing the vast majority of orders in Shanghai or Singapore. This gave Ingram Micro an advantage over Synnex, and especially Phoenix Toner, because it could afford to hold more stock.
"Some people will say it's courageous to hold stock in country but there will be others who think it's stupid because it means we have to move it," Schell said. "It's good to have that pressure because it gives my team more focus on accurate forecasts and creates a sense of urgency."
With all products to be sourced locally as of August 1, Schell said it would be easier to assess which distributor had the better sales force.
"In the past, it's been about who has the bigger pockets and can afford to hold inventory," he said. "But smaller distributors will have a more level playing field now stock is in country."
The move has been welcomed by Phoenix Toner general manager, Don Bentley. The distributor has carried HP consumables for three years, adding its inkjet printers and spare parts earlier this year.
"Having stock in country will allow us to buy in the quantities we want rather than having to order pallet loads from Asia and hold them," he said. "It puts us in a position to compete with Ingram Micro and resellers can make their buying decisions on service levels.
"We offer personalised account managers that deal with them from when an order is placed right through to delivery. Our big disadvantage has always been volume buying prices."
Ingram Micro boss, Guy Freeland, predicted the changes would have minimal impact on his business but said they could make a difference for his competitors.
"We take container loads every other day from HP and buying stock locally will give us greater flexibility," he said. "But it will probably mean more to Synnex and Phoenix Toner because they don't buy the volumes we do."
Schell has met with Dicker Data to talk about the possibility of working together and will hold discussions with Cellnet this week. He plans to monitor the performance of current IPG distributors until September before deciding whether to make any changes to its line-up or implement a restructure.
As previously reported in ARN, a restructure would see the introduction of the European IPG model, with distributors categorised as logistics service providers or channel development partners.
"I'm leaning towards that model but don't need to rush my decision because nothing will be changed before November," Schell said.