A couple of years after the online sales concept made headlines for all the wrong reasons, value-added distributor Express Data has quietly placed its bets on the model, spinning off an online distribution business, Express Online.
"Resellers have been telling us for years that they'd like to have another distributor in the commodities space," said David Gage, general manager of the new venture. "They are frustrated by distributors who are only interested in their top 50 resellers, and they want to transact online because they know exactly what they want to buy."
The user-name and password-protected site, which qualifies resellers before allowing them to transact, attracted more than 300 resellers from around the country when it went live last week. Nicknamed Expresso, the site represents fast turnaround for the volume sales market.
Gage said the 10-staff business will use Amazon.com's model to conduct all business dealings, transactions and customer interaction. Expresso's foray into the often neglected small-to-medium commodities reseller market will be backed by its parent company's considerable logistical resources and expertise.
"Our aim is to be a one-stop shop for IT resellers," Gage said. "In addition, a wide variety of vendors are really interested with the geographical coverage this offers them."
The new distribution model will go beyond pricing, availability and transaction to offer a range of services such as online training, webinars and sales tools, as well as extended facilities such as the ability to pay for goods via BPay.
"For small resellers it is difficult to get credit these days and we took that into account when we decided to provide them with the BPay facility," Gage said.
Currently stocking Acer, Cisco, Symantec, Microsoft, Belkin Computers, McAfee, Samsung, Netgear, Compaq and Panasonic products, the distributor is in negotiations with a number of other vendors in the hope of diversifying its product offering to include a wide range of printers, laptops, desktops and handhelds.
The distributor's choice of vendors leverages Express Data's existing relationships with volume sales market vendors while giving preference to partners with compatible business models.
"We have partnered with companies like Acer, whose e-business focus complements our own e-business model, and Symantec, which offers point-of-sale and security assessment material online," he said.
Although intending to recommend additional services and products to resellers, Gage said the company will not be doing much bundling as it doesn't want to push products that "resellers don't need".
"It won't be right for everyone, but our philosophy is to let resellers decide if they see value in a service and if they want to use it," he said.