UK-based Sage Software is spearheading a push into the SME sector with the announcement of a new retail deal with Harvey Norman. The announcement of the new deal has coincided with the timely appointment of Spencer Woodfield-Jones as national retail marketing manager, who will be largely responsible for the ongoing Sage/Harvey Norman relationship.
The partnership will see Harvey Norman stock the Sage Instant Accounting, Sage Line 50, Sagepos, and Sagepay products nationwide.
According to Sage managing director John Marshall, the response from Sage's 140-strong reseller partners has been entirely positive, despite potential competition.
"Basically, our channel partners recognise they stand to gain substantially from the exposure in Harvey Norman stores," Marshall said.
According to Marshall, the response has also been positive from the more than 15,000 accountants that support and recommend the Sage offerings. "The greater our retail presence the easier it becomes to recommend Sage products," Marshall explained.
Sage expects to increase its user base by 50,000 by March 2001, gaining up to 20,000 through Harvey Norman stores.
Marshall explained that Sage Australia is following market trends in Europe, where Sage products were proving popular through the retail channel.
"To be honest, we had never really considered such a broad retail partner, but this approach has been very successful in Europe and the UK, where over 50 per cent of sales are now running through the retail channel."
Initially, Sage Australia was concerned that retail staff lacked the technical skills to properly explain the benefits of Sage's business and accounting software offerings. However, Marshall said he was pleasantly surprised at the skill level of Harvey Norman retail staff.
The partnership agreement will be cemented over the coming month, with Sage embarking on a store-by-store training program to get Harvey Norman staff up to speed with the benefits of the Sage offerings.
Marshall believes that Sage Australia is ready to meet any increase in demand for support services with UK-based staff on standby to provide extra training requirements.