D-Link has launched a new online network configurator aimed at increasing sales in its mass merchant channel.
Using a series of prompts about customer networking needs, the configurator automatically selects a combination of D-Link product, which can then be printed as a shopping list to take into retailers.
The initiative would help differentiate the vendor against Linksys and NetGear, as well as demystify networking for SoHo and consumer users, D-Link marketing director, Maurice Famularo, said.
"People react better to pictures, so if we can actually show them what a home or small office network looks like, it makes it easier for them to have an understanding of what networking can do for them," he said.
"A retailer can also have this sitting in a web page on their computer so when a customer asks about networking they can sit down with them and use it as a sales tool."
While there were no plans to create a sales engine to complement the configurator, Famularo said the company was considering including links to retailers' sites.
"We are a looking at it but we want to create a learning environment rather than a price-war," he said. "Hopefully, the tool will create some customer loyalty, but there is always the danger that it could be used to cross-sell to another vendor's products."
The tool was designed to creating networks for up to seven users, Famularo said. However, future versions would include design capabilities for up to 30 users - treading heavily on SMB integrator turf.
"SoHo and home networks are very small and controlled but SMB networks are more complex," he said. "The configurator can tell you what hardware you need but not how to incorporate a high-end server. That's where the IT channel will still come in."