Editorial: A tale of two channels

Just like everybody else involved in the channel, ARN loves a good juicy warranty story. And Seagate’s decision to extend its cover on internal desktop and notebook drives from one year to five — just two years after scaling its offering back from three years — has given the whole industry a reason to revisit this hottest of topics.

Predictably, Seagate is promoting the move as a value-add for its end-user customer base. It was equally unsurprising to hear that its competitors were unimpressed and dismissed the move as a marketing gimmick. But leaving the polar opposites of competing manufacturers to one side, it will be the vendor’s distribution partners that are asked to pick up the slack. The reaction of those ARN spoke to covered the spectrum from a broad welcome to predictions of doomsday.

On the whole, the warranty will be good news for customers and resellers, who are all guaranteed full return or exchange for the full five years, but will not be celebrated by Seagate distributors. It is no secret that margins are tighter than ever in the IT industry, in hardware more than anywhere else, and the last thing wholesalers need is longer responsibility for such commoditised products.

Other hard drive manufacturers have so far showed little or no interest in a game of follow the leader and it seems highly unlikely they will have a change of heart. The announcement does show that Seagate has belief in the durability of its own products — its distributors all around the world will be praying this is justified.

Over in the world of software, Citrix has launched a new channel program that has introduced a very interesting concept — rewarding resellers for not selling anything.

Yes, you heard it right. Citrix dealers can now earn cash rewards for trying and failing to sell the vendors wares as long as they can prove they have been in front of a potential customer to promote the benefits of a Citrix implementation, the opportunity is flagged on the vendor’s partner website and the customer eventually buys — whether from the original reseller or a competitor.

Unlike Seagate’s announcement, this one will be welcomed across the board by resellers because it gives them a financial slap on the back for doing a lot of hard yards that are usually invisible in other partner programs.

From a vendor perspective, Citrix also has plenty to gain from its Advisor Rewards program because it will encourage partners to get skilled up in its technology now that there is money in the customer education game.

It will also enable the vendor to keep a closer eye on what deals its partners are working on — the kind of information other manufacturers would give their eye teeth for. If this is managed well from the Citrix side, the vendor will also be able to advise its resellers which areas of opportunity are being saturated and which are neglected.

Historically, resellers have been (quite rightly) suspicious of vendors wanting to know who their customers are, but the transparency Citrix is promoting will enable well organised resellers to keep track of what information has been shared just as easily as Citrix can. Other vendors could do worse than take a closer look at this scheme.

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