Computacenter has sent shockwaves through the channel by entering the small business space with a new online IT purchasing service.
Aimed at firms spending less than £50,000 on IT a year, Computacenter Express will offer an edited range of products based on their lifetime business value.
Its launch spells the end of Computacenter Direct, which was launched just four years ago to target the mid-market and upper end of the SME space. Larger Computacenter Direct customers will be absorbed into Computacenter’s core corporate business and smaller customers will be pointed towards Express.
James Pelham-Burn, director of e-business at Computacenter, told CRN: “We feel the SME sector is poorly served today by a selection of providers with a consumer orientation. By bringing to bear the capabilities of Computacenter we can help them.”
However, rivals were quick to point out that the Computacenter Express site lists no phone number and only offers credit to companies with a turnover of more than £5m.
Stewart Hayward, commercial director of online VAR WStore, said: “I do not agree with what Computacenter is trying to do. The site may offer 20 products that are cheaper, but this is not what customers want: they want help and support.
“I also take this as acknowledgement that Computacenter Direct was not a success.”
Barry Dodhia, marketing manager at VAR Hemini, which works with Computacenter’s distribution arm CCD, said: “If we see that Computacenter Express is threatening our customers, we may well end up using someone other than CCD.”
Ian Newall, channel sales director at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, said: “To serve this part of the market you need an online, non-account management model and Computacenter is well placed to succeed.”
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