Acer is launching an in-house configuration system that will allow its retail partners to let customers build their own machines through Acer's Web site.
The build-to-configure system is being rolled out to all of Acer's retail partners, and has already created a great deal of anticipation, with David Jones featuring the system in its catalogue before it even went online.
"We had already started getting orders for them, and we hadn't even launched the system in-house," said Acer's national channel manager, Greg Mikaelian.
The system is expected to be fully up and running by the second quarter of this year. It works in a similar way to Acer's B2B Web offering, but is designed specifically for retailers dealing with consumers.
The move is part of a concerted attempt by the vendor to increase its retail market share. Acer has signed up the likes of David Jones, Clive Peeters in Victoria, Bing Lee in NSW, and Retravision. Late last year, the company added the Betta Electrical group's 200 national stores to its retail channel.
Under Acer's single-tier model, retailers can also become Acer Gold Partners, a strategy that has paid off for Leading Edge Computers, a buying group of independent retailers.
"They have great coverage, particularly in regional Australia," said Mikaelian. "Our retailers give us great exposure, from the high end with David Jones to the fast turnover of Clive Peeters."
When Acer announced its new distribution strategy last year, the vendor received a lot of criticism from the channel, in particular distributors. But Mikaelian says he believes the vendor made the right choice.
"It was the best decision we have made," he said. "Coming up with a bold strategy change in a tough market, we initially took a battering, but it was the correct decision. The channel is the strongest we have seen it in the five years I have been here, in terms of our breadth, coverage and the quality of our partners.
"We had a record December, and January and February have been very strong. We haven't been in the retail market a long time, but we have adapted very quickly and it is paying off."
Retailers that choose Acer: