Notebook giant Toshiba is enlisting some of its larger reseller channel partners as it establishes a distribution channel without recourse to the broadliners.
Those resellers which are able to handle a high volume of Toshiba kit, such as Computacenter, are obvious candidates for the list of six or seven big dealers that Toshiba will be drawing up. Toshiba hopes the move will get more product into the channel. A Toshiba source has named six resellers that are being primed for the task. Among the others that have been named are Logitek, Lantec, Frazer Associates, ISI and Gultronics, although this is understood to be a provisional list.
This will mean that smaller resellers will need to buy their Toshiba stock from large channel players. Gary Evans, Toshiba's southern regional sales manager, told PC Dealer: 'Some smaller dealers have been buying from the larger ones who are able to hold more inventory. We wouldn't want to get in the way of that practice.'
He went on to say: 'We don't have an official distribution network at the moment although some resellers are, in fact, acting as distributors, but everyone's on the same Ts&Cs. Toshiba wants to be in a position where it can point the smaller dealer in the right direction to get stock if we can't help them out. I think there's a lot we can do to help some of our resellers direct stock to other dealers.'
Larger Toshiba resellers can get an extra three per cent discount compared with their smaller channel partners. The likelihood of improving margins for the smaller reseller in the event of distribution being funnelled through a limited number of reseller/distributors is remote, but the problem of not being able to get enough stock to the dealers needs to be addressed if Toshiba is to hold on to its market share.
Large resellers, such as Computacenter, acting as distributors could be one approach. Mike Norris, chief executive officer at Computacenter, confirmed that Computacenter is already in a position to act as a distributor of Toshiba products: 'Their need for distributors is born more out of the need for credit lines than out of distribution on its own; it will be business as usual for us.'
Whether Toshiba establishes an official distribution network or decides to exploit the one which has evolved out of the work of some of its larger reseller partners is, in some ways, unimportant. That the smaller dealer, which does not really have the resources to hold millions of pounds of Toshiba stock, is able to get their hands on enough kit to meet the demands of its own customers is important if the company is to continue growing its market share as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
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