Compaq has come out of the direct sales closet and revealed it is to pitch to corporate customers and sell direct over the internet, as a means of heading off competition from Dell.
The move follows hard on the heels of IBM's revelation that it would be selling direct through its Nefinity Direct initiative (PC Dealer, 10 June) and Compaq receiving the go-ahead from its shareholders for its acquisition of Digital (see story, page 3).
As part of Compaq's direct stance, the vendor will be expanding its account manager base to approach customers. In the US, the manufacturer has launched an internet-based configure-to-order service within retail outlets. Compaq is set to inherit a massive direct sales force from Digital, which it will harness for the benefit of its corporate business.
Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer said it was the company's intention to strengthen relations with its customers. 'We have a commitment to sell the way the customer wants to buy, be it through resellers, over the phone or via the internet,' he said.
The vendor has already introduced a direct sales operation in the UK to address what it has described as the micro sector of the SME market.
Last year it established a call centre in Scotland to facilitate the move.
As PC Dealer went to press, the UK channel had not been consulted by either vendor, a situation that was greeted with scorn from resellers and distributors. Neville Davis, chairman of Compel, said as far as Compaq was concerned, the vendor had made it clear to him that it would not be selling direct in the UK.
Compaq UK was unavailable for comment.
Dave Thompson, PC marketing manager at Hewlett Packard, was adamant that HP would continue to sell through the channel. 'We are sticking to our guns,' he remarked, adding that he thought IBM's and Compaq's approach to its reseller community was naive. 'It's not a very good message to the channel, is it ?' he said.
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