In a climate where many Australian resellers are battling for survival, networking distributor LAN Systems has reinvented itself around "whole-of-service" distribution.
According to Nick Verykios, LAN Systems' chief marketing officer, the distributor has focused on enhancing its core competencies of product distribution, warehouse logistics, inventory management, e-commerce facilities, support, physical delivery, and credit facilitation to help its reseller partners compete for deals.
But, that's only one side of the coin, Verykios claimed last week. He expects LAN Systems will differentiate itself from rival time-and-place and value-added distributors by offering pre- and post-sales consultancy; technical support services; network design and security; market and technology training; and marketing services that can identify new business opportunities for resellers.
Technologies are commodities
"Many technologies that we offer such as routers and switches from the likes of Cisco, Xylan and 3Com have become commodities in the eyes of our resellers. They are simply products that are essential when it comes to building a customer's network.
"But LAN Systems is positioning itself so that resellers can approach us for everything from network testing and design support, marketing assistance, financial support and solution sourcing," Verykios said.
The distributor's "whole-of-service" model is broken into a number of domains from product sourcing to knowledge driven services such as pre- and post-sales support and conventional distribution processes including inventory management and product delivery.
"It's crucial that we always revisit the market to pick the best technologies for our integrators," Verykios said.
"They may only want to provide Cisco-based solutions but there are integrators that need to offer customers a multivendor network.
"This means a product portfolio can change, irrespective of the demands of our vendors. They have to earn the right to be on our list."
In fact, Verykios recalled two technologies - IPTV and TigerSwitch - which were once distributed by LAN Systems and have since been acquired by Cisco and Cabletron.
LAN Systems has also received an overwhelming response from resellers and integrators to its Hot Stage Logistics (HSL) service which can facilitate pre-installation testing and can configure networking equipment.
"We originally thought that HSL would be a hit with small resellers but we have since been inundated by calls from at least 12 high-end integrators and resellers requesting the use of our labs and facilities," Verykios said.
"Most large integrators are determined to save costs so if we can provide a service to our partners which they can use for nothing, these organisations can save huge amounts of money for themselves and for their customers."
But, despite claims that this new distribution model is turning LAN Systems into a Com Tech and is alienating consultants, Verykios countered this claim, saying its resellers compete directly with consultants.
"Back-end services such as network and security design are a black art for resellers. We are merely helping them to compete for business they normally would not have a hope of winning."