Resellers will be forced to relinquish their procurement and configuration responsibilities as Tech Data steps up its campaign to ship more products direct to users to keep channel costs down.
But while resellers have already begun realigning their businesses to focus on services, they warn that the migration away from product fulfillment will be a long and difficult process.
Michele Richards, purchasing manager at Computer Cave, said: 'There's going to be a great deal of opposition to it from a lot of resellers, so I don't think the outsourcing of inventory and configuration services to distributors will take off until at least 2000.'
Graeme Dagg, group marketing manager at Computerland, said: 'There are still a number of companies that talk about services being the future but are not in a position to take advantage of it.'
Bob Jeffries, sales director of Minerva Computer Services, added: 'Larger resellers are likely to be disadvantaged by Tech Data's stance because the bigger you are, the more likely you are to have invested in assembly facilities of your own.'
But Steve Raymund, chief executive of Tech Data, told PC Dealer: 'Ultimately, there won't be a whole lot of choice in the matter, as vendors wind down price protection for resellers. The vast majority of them will move away from stocking or even touching product, in favour of relying on distributors to fulfil orders directly to the user.'
He claimed 40 per cent of Tech Data's US sales were already shipped direct to users, adding that it plans to load software, configure products, affix asset tags, and administer 'any of the other sundry alterations historically performed by resellers'.
But Raymund denied Tech Data would move to develop direct relationships with users.
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