It's not Harvey Norman, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Over the next fortnight, Acer computers will make their debut on the shelves of the retailer's seven Domayne stores across New South Wales.
The vendor is also in ongoing discussions to extend the arrangement to Harvey Norman stores nationally, although Acer still has to overcome the massive impact that servicing Harvey Norman's 128 stores Australia-wide would have on business processes.
Domayne will utilise Acer's new build-your-own system currently being rolled out to retailers for the entire product range. The move is part of an aggressive retail strategy that has seen the vendor add David Jones, Clive Peeters and the Betta Group to its list of retailers in the last six months. Acer now has to take care not to alienate its existing partners by flooding the market.
"To take on Harvey Norman on a nationwide basis has massive implications for our existing channels," said Acer's national channel manager, Greg Mikaelian. "We have some great retails channels and we have to look carefully at the impact on them."
Retailers are philosophical about Acer's channel additions, although they are wary of the possible implications for supply.
"Acer has every right to expand its business, provided it maintains its service levels," said Ross Whitelaw, general manager for Leading Edge Computers. "If a vendor gets too wide in the marketplace, it can be a problem, but I don't think that's an issue with Acer."
Reyad Hage, national category manager for IT with the Betta Group, believes the increased exposure of the Acer brand could in fact be better for business overall.
"From an overall perspective, of course we would like to retain Acer on a semi-exclusive level, but we understand this is unlikely," he said. "Acer is an extremely good company to deal with - very professional and supportive, and having Acer PCs in other retail stores could in fact strengthen our business as well. Competition can be very good, although obviously we would like to limit it."
Betta took on the Acer brand in the final quarter of last year, stocking both its desktops and notebooks products. Reaction from customers had been very strong, Hage said.
Acer currently enjoys a strong relationships with its retailers, but if Harvey Norman were to take on the brand, the vendor would have to work hard to maintain a level playing field for all its partners.
"It wouldn't worry me as long as the offerings are competitive across all brands," Hage said. "As long as it is fair competition, it is good for the industry."
Leading Edge's Whitelaw was upbeat about the market, reporting the PC business this year had been "going gangbusters".
"We are very happy with the relationship we have with Acer," he said.