Compaq has issued Ts&Cs for its Web-only resellers in the US, ending a 90-day suspension it imposed two months ago preventing them shipping product.
The ban ended with the announcement that the vendor will authorise up to five online partners in the US. The suspension was imposed on its distributors - Tech Data and Ingram Micro - to halt shipments to Web-only resellers and was intended to allow Compaq to evaluate the situation (PC Dealer, 3 March).
The five named resellers will be supplied through the vendor's distributors and will be expected to stick to minimum pricing guidelines, as well as the same rules as traditional resellers. The suspension was originally put in place because of fear that Compaq's channel would implode under the weight of a Web-reseller price war.
But Compaq UK is not ready to set its policy yet. Scott Dodds, general manager of channel sales at Compaq, said: 'We will go out and talk to the reseller community about this. The shift to the Web-only model has not happened in the UK yet. In the US, we had to rein in and recover the situation. There are no rules yet for this area and it is still unclear what the positive and negative factors will be for the reseller community.'
Graeme Watt, managing director of Computer 2000, said: 'This will happen in the UK and we are prepared. In the US, Tech Data is already drop shipping 40 per cent of products - the channel is changing. Out of our top 10 vendors, we have already had talks with two companies regarding this.'
The perceived low margin for a Web-only reseller is not attractive. Paul Fry, managing director of Compaq reseller LCS Group, said: 'I don't think Web resellers will affect the channel that much. We sell the box as a means to sell the services. There hasn't been money in just selling the box for years.'
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