The inventory dilemma is the proverbial noose around distributors' necks at the moment, but Sydney-based outfit Parallel Solutions and Distribution has launched a computer parts search engine which they claim circumvents the problem.
The Australian Computer Parts Network provides both resellers and end users with an e-commerce tool to source components from Compaq, IBM and Toshiba online. The difference is, while ACPN carries around $1.2 million in inventory in its warehouse, the company also partners with a US company for parts. Vendors can also upload their inventory to the ACPN site.
"Inventory is sometimes a bit of a dirty word," explained director Chris Russell. "It is all very nice to see products stacked neatly in a warehouse, but if you haven't got a means of dispersing that stock, it ends up being a cost to your business. So by uploading inventory to the ACPN site, there are going to be real benefits to everyone."
The system allows users to search for spare parts for systems in a way that has been previously been unavailable to either resellers or IT managers.
"A lot of the big distributors are set up to source complete units, but if you want to add a component, it is very difficult," Russell said. "They can and do offer parts, but there is no other company offering online sourcing. It is not just an online site - we have a sales team behind it and customers can interact with the sales guys."
The new business arose out of the company's own service background and incorporates functionality such as the ability to search components based on the model of the unit. Because of this service focus, Russell doesn't think the business will take market share away from traditional distribution channels.
""Most [distributors] offer totally different services," he said. "You can buy optional part numbers, but if you don't know the makeup of your system it is very difficult because distributors don't show that information online. We target business based more on giving the customer a value add."
That philosophy comes from the company's original compentency in the repair market. Realising multinational companies would end up dominating the repair market, the company decided to concentrate on other opportunities. It has taken more than 12 months to develop the site, and ACPN hopes to get other vendors on board to upload inventories.
"When we started we were doing a lot of repairs but the industry these days is very difficult. We saw the writing on the wall 18 months ago, that it would be difficult to continue as the main players are multibillion dollar companies, so we turned our focus on ACPN."