Hey, lift your game!

Dear ARN,

I am writing to let you know about some of the problems that currently exist in the computer industry. My aim in doing so is to humble some of the suppliers into lifting their game. They are currently a poor excuse and need some radical changes to compete in the real world.

I own two retail computer stores in regional NSW and have been in business for over eight years. During this time I have seen suppliers come and go. These suppliers and wholesalers all tend to make the same basic mistake. They forget who their customer is. The suppliers and wholesalers within the computer industry should be looking after their dealers. It is the dealer who buys off them, not the average person in the street. If I like a supplier's attitude, approach and product I will sell and recommend the product.

A couple of examples may serve to illustrate my point.

Firstly, try getting a colour brochure out of any supplier. It is almost impossible. Unless perhaps you wish to sell OS/2. Without these brochures it is almost impossible to sell the products.

Secondly, display stock. You can now get an evaluation unit from anyone. This is an essential requirement for a store to be able to see the new products as they come out. We also need presentation stands. A packet of chips is displayed better at Coles than computer products from the current suppliers.

Thirdly, tech support. This is the greatest excuse to raise revenue for Telstra I have ever seen. Simply waiting on the phone would make up 25 per cent of my phone bill. Try getting a video or printer driver for Windows 95.

All these problems have to be dealt with and overcome by the retailer; the very same retailer who is being pressured by his customer to provide the product or service required. It is impossible. Even changing suppliers would not help the situation as this problem is endemic throughout the industry. In fact I recently contacted a company for a demo disk advertised in Australian Reseller News. The disk had data corruption when it arrived. After fixing these with Scandisk I loaded it to find there was no demo data supplied. So the disk was useless. I called the company, STD. I was told it was all they had and if I couldn't get it to work I wasn't very competent and to call back later when the technician could help me.

I am sure other dealers experience the same problems. In fact I feel the quicker we do away with wholesalers and start dealing direct with the manufacturer's Australian representative the better. Imagine the sales increase that could be gained by a committed sales team dealing direct. A sales team who would develop brand loyalty and expertise, not just box movers as most stores are now. Please help my crusade to put a rocket upthe current crop of shoddy suppliers.

Yours in disgust

Craig Webster BA, owner/manager

The P-words - profit and protection

Dear ARN,

It was interesting to read your article (June 26) on Accounting Software for Resellers. As a reseller who has specialised in this area for many years I wonder if I might add a couple of other essential points which resellers should look for - profit and protection?

Having been the "meat in the sandwich" between accounting software vendors and end-users in the past we know what it's like to choose the wrong product, but now I also know what it feels like to get it right. Apart from the functionality issues covered in your article, resellers may like to consider the following points:


Does the margin make it possible to provide the kind of support a business-user rightfully deserves? (we currently get a whopping 50% discount, making it feasible to employ quality support staff.) Are there up-front or on-going costs which have the effect of reducing profit? (We got free training and free multi-user software from our current supplier and continue to receive free upgrades and support.) Can you make money on upgrades and support or does the vendor steal this opportunity from you by providing direct support and upgrades?

Will the range of products allow you to sell into multiple markets without having to learn multiple products? (Our current vendor has a core product around which many vertical applications are built.)PROTECTION Will the reseller receive some kind of protection in the market, or will they end up doing all the work only to find that Hardly Normal gets the business? (We have a written contract granting exclusive rights in a defined territory.) What if an importer goes broke or decides that importing and modifying accounting software is too hard? Who will look after the problems? Having been caught out on this before we now insist on 100% Australian accounting software and, anyway, this has to make sense for the customer as well as the country (Incidentally, none of the products you reviewed was True Blue).

I hope these thoughts may help other resellers avoid some of the mistakes we made initially. In case anyone's interested in getting the same benefits we do, I heartily recommend they call Rimtech, who produces the RIMS ProfitPak range of accounting software. They are actively seeking new resellers in some areas and can be contacted on 1800 061 670 (hey, they've even got a freecall number!).

Chris Mills, managing director,

MicroStar Information Systems

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Paul Zucker, editor, Australian Reseller News,88 Christie St, St Leonards, NSW 2065E-MAIL:

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