Channel sales buoy Acer

As more and more vendors push towards a direct sales model, Acer Computer Australia has upped its channel revenues by 25 per cent for the first three quarters of this year.

Channel sales made up 80 per cent of revenue for the period - a result of the company's ongoing channel program and new SME products, according to Acer's channel manager Greg Mikaelian.

"Acer worldwide has always been a very strong partnering company," he explained. "It was founded on OEM business and that carries through to the channel."

Another reason for the success is the company's continuing leverage of business through the channel in a market where vendors are increasingly going direct. "Many of our partners have been effected by the industry changes and where the competition has failed to look after their resellers, we have come through."

Part of that strategy will be the implementation of Acer's build to configuration program and B2B e-commerce site, due to be launched to the channel at the company's annual partner conference in February next year. Acer hopes the program will tap into the lucrative, but increasingly targeted, whitebox market which until now had the advantage of customisation and flexibility over branded products. The program will also help lift awareness of the Acer brand throughout the marketplace.

Acer has also released a bundled PC/notebook/server package aimed at the growing SME market. This market provided one of the key opportunities for the channel this year, growing at 52 per cent on last year's figures. Mikaelian feels there is still room for growth through the next year. "We have achieved 55 per cent growth in the year to date in assembly and 33 per cent in retail," he said.

Sales in notebook sales have also grown, he said, because they are backed by the company's two-hour repair program. "Around 90 per cent of our business is facilitated through partners."

The challenges facing the channel in the coming months will lie in streamlining e-commerce systems and in training employees in Acer's new B2B strategy. "The information flow must be seamless but everyone has different systems. The challenge will be avoiding the duplication of policies and procedures and processors," Mikaelian said.

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