Acer goes direct online, but channel won't miss out

Acer goes direct online, but channel won't miss out

Acer Computer denies its new ShopAcer concept will be a direct threat to its resellers partners, even though end users can now order systems directly from the vendor's Web site.

Acer quietly launched ShopAcer earlier this month, but maintains the strategy will actually provide opportunities, rather than taking business away for channel partners. "We have extended APeC [Acer partner e-commerce system] into our ShopAcer concept," said Acer marketing director Raymond Vardanega. "It's clicks and mortar, with our channel partners pushing out into the home and business space."

Acer denies the move is due to an increased emphasis on direct sales, even though the new site initially listed Acer's headquarters in Homebush as a pickup point. Instead it will sign on resellers to act as pickup points for Acer's products, earning an additional fee for the service. According to Vardanega, more than 60 resellers have already signed on for the scheme.

"The reason the Acer site is there is that we wanted to show our partners what the pickup points are," he said. We will be replacing those pickup points with those of our channel partners.

"With our resellers we have up to 500 points of presence. We deliver to the reseller and call the customer to let them know the product is ready."

Vardanega said Acer would continue to promote its channel and would not promote the direct aspect of its Web site.

Over the past few weeks, Acer has met with its partners to explain the new system. Acer gold partner Leading Edge Group is cautiously optimistic about the changes. Leading Edge CEO Keith Lane applauded the vendor for the marketing support it provides its channel, but said the group would have no qualms about terminating its relationship with Acer if it deemed Acer was competing with its members.

"At this stage, Acer will reward the independent for picking up the product," Lane told ARN. "So the store is kept in the loop. That's a smart strategy, providing that's what they stick to. They will find that the minute they want to compete, they will lose [resellers] in droves."

Acer also gives consumers the option of purchasing direct delivery for $59.

Vardanega said the move is not about creating a direct relationship, but rather building on brand credibility in the end-user market, and making the most of the resources Acer has invested in its e-commerce system.

"The delivery option is there for many reasons," he explained. "Particularly in regional areas, the customer is not always within cooee of a reseller. This is not about direct or indirect -- it's about Acer products having credibility on the Web, being competitive and the network infrastructure supporting Acer."

The APeC system has proven very popular with the channel. Around 60 per cent of partner orders now come through on the online system.

"The only reason it is not higher is because of the number of government orders that our partners do," Vardanega said.

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