Ingram Micro Australia has launched its new website as part of the company's global platform.
The redesigned, easy-to-use site has been developed over the past six months and throughly beta tested by customers and then staff. The initial beta featured pilot group of 52 customers and 250 users and was then slowly extended.
A staged roll-out has been in place for the past couple of months culminating with the final transfer of several thousands of customers in the past week.
“The new Techlink site is a very exciting development for us, and for our customers. It takes all the best practice of leading-edge global B2C ecommerce platforms, and applies it in our B2B environment – and that’s a first for the channel here in Australia,” Ingram Micro’s Vice-President and Managing Director A/NZ, Jay Miley, said.
“It brings the sort of features people expect from sites like Amazon and Ebay: rich product data [from Etilize, the company that supplies Amazon, Ebay, Best Buy and other], ultra-smart searching and the ability to compare products, save searches and shopping carts and generally allows resellers to customise things exactly as they want them. It’s an amazingly powerful platform.”
Ingram Micro spokesperson, Liz Wolahan, emphasised that Ingram's sales teams had been trained by Ingram Micro Australia Web education manager, Grant Abbott, up to three times over a two-month period.
"They are capable of guiding customers through the new site and showing them the many extra benefits," Wolahan said.
“Because it provides such a quantum leap in terms of functionality, there is a bit of a learning curve. But it’s not steep, and the payback is that you can do vastly more than you could on the old site. It can just save resellers so much time in their day-to-day jobs.”
Try it out
I sat down with Abbott and Wolahan for a grand tour of the new site. And while I'm not a reseller customer I do have two decades of experience running and developing websites. This one is nice, very nice.
First and foremost it's user friendly. By that I mean it's easy to navigate. There are the buttons you need in all the right places. For instance, the home page has a prominent Frequently Asked Questions button and a large 'Forgot Password' button - and that's vital.
Users can easily access their accounts and all the functionality of the website. There appears to be very little buried out of view - surely there is nothing more frustrating than spending 15 minutes searching dozens of drop downs to find the right link.
The functionality is a little different to that of the old TechLink site but far more intuitive.
Set up your account correctly - an easy step-by-step process - and there’s plenty on offer as far administrative functionality: Invoice searching, order searching and the actual ordering process are all simple tasks - even for a non-reseller like me.
It's also set up with the customer/reseller relationship in mind.
Abbott said, "The website is available as a recommended retail website. It's Google searchable website so end-users can go to it but they will only see recommended retail prices. There are no stock values. There's no standard dealer pricing.
"Customer can go in there have a look round say 'yeah, I like that product' then go to their nearest reseller and then ask that reseller for their prices."
This allows customers to approach resellers armed with the knowledge of what a product's recommended price is and deal from that point.
The website employs an impressive Smart Search system. It's an Oracle supplied back-end system called Endeca which is a content management system as well as a search engine.
"What this enables us to do is to be very much like Google," Abbott says. "When we type something in, it automatically looks at what we're typing in and says these are the categories we are listing under [in this case] Lenovo. So because you can see notebooks there you can go and type in notebooks and then it drops down to the next categorisation and shows you the actual units that are inside notebooks.
"If you're unsure what notebooks IM supplies you can just type in notebooks and then it'll go through and give you a list of all the vendors that supply notebooks to us.
"Compared with the old TechLink it's a lot easier to find products in.”
It is so well set up that customers can easily order the exact functionality and technical specs they want within the machine of their choice.
The new system also allows a customer - for the first time in TechLink - to compare four products side-by-side which makes selection that much easier.
Within that comparison the search engine even highlights specifics so you can identify the various strengths of weakness of each product with what you have in mind.
Even more importantly, the new system uses Etilize which supplies region specific product specification lists which are very detailed right down to say the hyper-threading, something that isn’t available in the old system.
Another thing that impresses me is something very simple but absolutely vital when it comes to branding. You can upload your own business logo and use it in all your quotes.
When you do your customer-to-end-user quotations, each has a picture of your logo. Resellers can create a quote within Techlink , and when it’s complete they can push it out – complete with their own customised branding, comments and pricing – directly to their customer.
Wolahan said Ingram Micro is now making the site available to all its resellers and encouraging them to login and try it out.
“The old site will remain running in parallel for a few months as a safety net while resellers familiarise themselves with the new site, and we’re helping them with training too. But already we’re finding once they try the new site they just want to keep using it,” she said.
You can visit the new website by clicking here.