Paul Connelly, managing director, Asia-Pacific, of specialist consumables distributor Daisytek, has signalled the recent US sale of fulfilment arm PFS Web has left the company well resourced and in acquisition mode.
"We are looking to make acquisitions in the Australian market in a couple of key areas such as CRM and fulfilment logistics," Connelly said.
These areas will form the cornerstones of an overall strategy which Connelly believes will ensure stable growth for Daisytek in the e-commerce era.
According to Connelly, the trend towards online sales is set to continue, and even accelerate in coming years, with some fairly ominous results for retailers who fail to take e-commerce initiatives.
"Retail, B2B, procurement services, you name it - everyone in business will have to have an online presence. Businesses that are slower to take up the change will not survive the price war when the savings on overheads of online operations are passed on to consumers," Connelly said.
However, Connelly's interests in online retail are fundamentally peripheral. Rather than focussing on retail as such, Connelly is interested in tapping into new industries which will result from a growth in online sales. To this extent, Connelly signals CRM and fulfilment logistics as major areas of growth.
"You can't sell anything without the human element. e-commerce Web sites require call-centre support," he said.
Connelly believes that such call centres will increasingly become outsourced, and that the growth in outsourcing will in turn stimulate the CRM market. According to Connelly, Daisytek is looking to cash in on this growth by making acquisitions in this CRM and fulfilment logistics space in Australia.
Daisytek has a background in acquisition, having bought into local distribution company Lasercharge in 1996 in order to gain a presence in Australia.
"It is often safer to manage expansion on the basis of acquisitions, especially when growing into new markets," Connelly said.
Connelly partially attributes Daisytek's failed attempt to move into the Asian market through an office in Singapore to an attempt to establish rather than acquire a local presence.
"We hit Singapore at the worst possible time, just as the Asian economic crisis began. Establishing a presence from scratch requires a strong market that simply wasn't there at the time."