Channel X informs emerging channels

It is a finding the channel simply doesn't want to hear, and you could hear a pin drop when Inform analyst Chris Herbert told industry players that "customers don't buy directly from vendors because they don't sell direct".

The revelation was made when Herbert made a presentation at the launch of ARN's most recent publication Channel X last week. Billed as the survival guide for people working in an industry were the motto is "change or die", the monthly magazine focuses on the challenges faced by channel businesses in today's dynamic environment. It will cover emerging communities such as ISPs, ASPs, XSPs, Web developers and telco channels, as well as how more traditional businesses are dealing with new technology and market issues.

Inform's findings are furnished in its most recent report, Channel Performance 2001. Five thousand surveys were sent out to end users and, despite the first shocking admission, resellers are holding their own in the service stakes.

Around 20 per cent of corporate users choose to buy through the channel because manufacturers don't sell direct. However, the same respondents applauded resellers for their fast service and personal service, technical support and fast delivery, and resellers rank better in terms of customer service than manufacturers.

Research analyst Chris Herbert said despite a few high-profile failures in the online world, the channel still considered e-commerce as a key aspect to its future business. Direct mailouts may remain the number one way to promote business but, by 2002, almost 25 per cent of the channel's market budget will be spent on Internet strategies.

Although Herbert also emphasised that business will and reality are often different, the findings bear out what some consider to be just hype. 44 per cent of corporate end users will consider e-tailers as an IT supply source and by 2002, almost 70 per cent of desktop PCs will be purchased online, according to the analyst's figures.

"B2C is still in the game even though businesses like Harvey Norman dipped its toes in the water, got cold and ran back up the beach," he said.

Herbert also detailed figures from Inform's Channel Trends 2000 report in a year that was notorious for "blips" and "inconsistencies".

"Corporate dealers and mass-merchant channels dominate the indirect market," he said. "Together they account for more than 60 per cent of sales, and they are the only beneficiaries of the GST implementation."

The ratios of desktops to notebooks and servers did not change on last year, despite the Y2K and GST phenomena.

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