Logistics firms have taken another bite out of the hardwareess Cargo. distribution market after Hewlett Packard (HP) went outside the traditional channel to recruit a fulfilment partner for its imminent e-commerce website providing direct sales to consumers in the UK.
The vendor has appointed logistics company Irish Express Cargo (IEC) to stock inventory and deliver up to 71 different ranges of hardware and consumable products to online retail customers when the pilot is launched in the UK on 3 June. A similar operation will commence in Sweden by the end of next month and another will follow in Germany.
European distributors such as Ingram Micro, Computer 2000 and CHS Electronics are all understood to have bid for the tender, along with hauliers such as TNT.
HP's justification for appointing a logistics firm rather than a distributor to fulfil its Shopping Village site was that it needed a partner that was used to making home deliveries. Trudie Mitchell, UK e-business programme manager at HP said: 'Not many distributors focus on home addresses, whereas forwarders do. Plus they provide the ability for customers to track their shipments online.'
HP forecast up to six per cent of its UK consumer output being sold online by 2002, which Mitchell said would amount to about £400 million in turnover.
Ingram Micro and C2000 declined to comment on the appointment. IEC was unavailable.
CHS, however, did not see the logistics operation as having a big impact on distribution.
Simon Fagan, HP divisional manager, said: 'We don't anticipate it being big business. It's not going to take a massive chunk out of the mouths of distributors. If anything, we will look to add other elements.'
HP's shift towards a logistics specialist follows a similar move by IBM, which last year engaged logistics company Tibbett & Brittan to carry out distribution and configuration services for its PC shipments (PC Dealer, 28 October, 1998).
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