ERA and IBM PC distribution deal

Ingram Micro affiliate, Electronic Resources Australia (ERA) has only been distributing IBM product since July 20, but the distributor is already talking up the benefits of the global distribution approach favoured by Ingram Micro There's one slight catch, however. At best, Ingram claims that a globalised approach only equates to about 10 per cent of its overall revenue. Which must be of some concern to ERA officials who are expecting big things from the IBM deal.

According to Ranjit Limaye, the general manager of IBM's PC Company - Australia/ New Zealand, IBM is experiencing "tremendous growth rates" of 60 per cent in the SME market, albeit from a minimal base.

This growth will, no doubt, intensify as ERA/Ingram offer IBM's complete PC range of ThinkPad notebooks, desktops and low-end Netfinity servers.

"We have strong ambitions in the SME market," Limaye said. "Traditionally IBM has been very competitive in large corporate accounts but we have certainly not been strong in the SME space," Ranjit admitted.

Ingram's Asia Pacific president, Greg Spierkel claimed the global distribution strategy touted by Ingram has been crucial in securing relationships with the likes of Compaq and now IBM in Australia. And while both ERA and Ingram have yet to secure Hewlett-Packard distribution rights, Spierkel believes HP will eventually warm to its worldwide presence.

"Globalisation is a valuable asset for Ingram as we continue out talks with all of the major vendors in Australia," Spierkel said. "It may represent only about 10 per cent of our overall business but we see this as an advantage over the local distributors who cannot provide a similar service to multinational clients."

But for local IBM distribution heavyweight, ITG Computers, globalisation is no big deal right now. Braham Shnider, the distributor's national sales and marketing manager said: "Sure they (Ingram) may have large international volumes which is a big bat to hold over a vendor's head, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it will be successful.

"A distributor needs a vast amount of capital backing before it can justify a global presence and for most Australian distributors that is just not possible."