Internet sales will never replace the traditional model for corporate IT sales, according to research firm Romtec.
Adrian Smith, Romtec senior research analyst, said: ?There are several factors at work which make Web-based sales alone incompatible with solution selling.
?First, it?s not yet known how long it will be until the bandwidth will support volume internet sales. Second, solution- based sales into the corporate market will always require a certain level of support.?
Direct vendors and retailers are doing increasing levels of business over the internet. Direct vendor Dell sells nearly #2 million over the Net every day, and Apple US has launched an accreditation for top US resellers to sell online.
In the UK, Birmingham-based reseller Software Warehouse, which is just about to launch its Web-based download shop, ships about 50 orders a day from software ordered from its Web site. Chairman Steve Bennett said the firm hoped to grow its Web business, but admitted it is ?not suitable for downloading anything bigger than utilities yet?.
But Vars and solution-based resellers feel unthreatened by the Web-based sales model. Jonathan Chapple, chairman of Chessington-based dealer Equanet, said: ?Web site downloads are too clumsy for the average corporate buyer. It?s quicker just to get on the phone.?
John Wakeman, Symantec sales and marketing director for Northern Europe, said the Net was unsuitable for selling full software products. ?Products such as suites simply take too long to download, and people don?t feel comfortable buying a product over the Web that costs more than about $50.?
Computacenter currently operates a proprietary ordering system for its biggest corporate clients. General manager Martin Hellawell said the company is launching a Web-based ordering system, but he expects most of Computacenter?s volume business to remain with the proprietary network.
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