The potential savings offered to suppliers by providing resellers with services over the Internet has certainly sparked the interest of vendors and distributors. Resellers are enthusiastically adopting the medium, according to an Inform report released last week.
Channel Trends 2000 reports this is the first year in which more resellers are reporting that they access the Internet on a daily rather than weekly basis.
Analyst and project manager Katie Wilkins reveals almost a third of respondents access supplier Web sites for support issues on a daily basis. Larger resellers, those with a turnover greater than 5 million, are among the most regular visitors to supplier sites.
Tony Prince, managing director of Sydney reseller Complus Computers, confirmed the trends outlined by Inform. "I visit supplier sites once a day on average, for everything from checking price lists to downloading drivers. Customers always tell you they didn't get given driver disks with hardware so it is good to have access to them online."Understandably, the most frequently accessed data refers to product technical and sales information. However, information access does not immediately convert into sales, with retailers listed as the channel type most frequently accessing price lists, but least likely to order online.
Distribution giant Tech Pacific was rated far and away the most useful site for resellers, with Microsoft and HP sites coming a distant second and third.
Behind these came e-tailer Harris Technology's Web site. This result led Wilkins to ponder whether resellers were visiting the Harris site to buy products, or use their its range and prices as a benchmark for their own product sales information.
Prince dismissed the idea of gathering marketing information online out of hand. "I don't really visit other resellers' sites. I'm too busy to worry about who is charging what. There is not point in me trying to keep up with the likes of Harris Technology. Sometimes people come to me with a price they have been offered, I match it if I can, but if not there is not much else I can do."Avnet Integrand managing director Colin McKenna, on the other hand, sees the Internet as an important business development resource. "We have a good look around at different sites, the find information about their products as well as their presence on the Web."Fiona Stewart, Tech Pacific's marketing manager, claims the company's high rating among resellers was the result of an ongoing development process to tailor the site specifically to the needs of the channel.
"We provide a broad range of products, as well as price and stock availability.
In terms of sales, our channel needs to know what we have, what it costs, and when they can get hold of it, plus they want to be able to monitor the progress of their order."McKenna also pointed out resellers want to do all of the above easily. "We look for ease of navigation most of all and a limited number of clicks to complete a transaction. I don't like to see too much fuss on a page, it is better to focus on speed, clarity and ease of use than anything else."