The average UK SME reseller is still enjoying solid growth and is ambitiously focused on customer acquisition, according to new research.
Just eight per cent of resellers quizzed in a poll by AMI Research reported a decline in turnover in the previous 12 months. Average annual growth among the 426 participants was 11 per cent, while average expected growth for the next 12-month period was seven per cent.
AMI claimed there are 12,200 UK channel partners that draw more than 50 per cent of their revenues from the SME sector.
Far from battening down the hatches, those polled indicated that customer acquisition would be their top priority for the year ahead.
Identifying and marketing to new customers was listed as a top-three business challenge by more respondents than any of the other options (35 per cent), including the current uncertain economic climate.
It is a similar story when SME resellers select vendors - half of the participants cited manufacturers’ ability to help them generate leads and acquire new customers as their most important consideration.
The research also found that resellers are looking to broaden their product and service offerings in the coming year.
AMI forecast that between 1,000 and 1,500 resellers would move into the arenas of PC virtualisation, blade server, Wi-Fi and storage in 2009.
Although AMI claimed that 40 per cent of SMEs now offer managed services, it also found that resellers with a strong services focus are generally more pessimistic than their box-shifting counterparts.
Hugh Gibbs, AMI’s EMEA vice president of research and consulting, said the UK’s 1.7 million SMEs are putting services under scrutiny.
“When end users cut back on spending they tend to cut back on the frills,” he said.
“And that tends to be value add. They are finding the services element hard to justify.”
Gibbs stressed the poll was conducted in the autumn and said the numbers would have declined during the past three months.
Stewart Hayward, commercial director at SME-focused reseller WStore, said the SME market is a good sector for resellers to play in as corporate spending dries up.
“We were optimistic coming into the year and the first two months of it reflect that,” he said.
“The level of drop-off is significant in the corporate market, but partners experienced in dealing with SMEs are not struggling.”
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