The waiting is over. The results to the first PC Dealer/Context dealer panel questionnaire are here: theses revelations concern networking
1. Who are your three main vendor suppliers of networking products (in terms of revenue)?
Only two vendors stand out in this survey : 3Com and Cisco. 3Com has the top-ranked position with one in three resellers identifying 3Com as their first networking vendor of choice. This can be explained in many ways: the breadth of its product range, its long-established presence in Europe, and its leadership in so many segments.
Second only to 3Com, Cisco stands out as the undisputed leader of the router market segment. IBM has also successfully penetrated two-tier distribution.
Ranked third supplier of choice, IBM is reaping the results of its network strategy. Ranked fourth, Novell's Netware and Groupwise solutions stand as the main source of revenue for 10 per cent of the resellers contacted.
Bay Networks' fifth place reflects its paradox. Despite a quarter of the resellers choosing Bay as one of their three main networking vendors, only six per cent ranked it first.
Outside the top five, further challenges to the networking specialists are emerging from computer vendors such as Compaq (formerly Networth and Thomas Conrad), Hewlett Packard and Digital which now compete with Madge and SMC.
2. Do you believe you have the required capabilities to sell new products within the following areas:
This question illustrates the proportion of Lan resellers as opposed to Lan/Wan resellers. This explains why the top-ranking places are reserved for networking vendors offering a one-stop shop profile. The diversity of Lan solution vendors quoted, such as SMC, Intel, Olicom and D-Link explains why only SMC has reached the top 10.
3. In your opinion, which supplier has adopted the best strategy for the approval of these different resellers?
Novell: 50% Microsoft: 39%
Novell continues to resist well. The CNE accreditation has regained its credit and is regarded as a differentiation worth investing in. But Microsoft is nearly equally praised for its certification programme. Indeed, if two-fifths of the panel rate Microsoft's accreditation as the best, half of them put it as one of the best.
4. What do you expect from distributors which sell networking products (rate 1 for the most important to 5 for the least important)?
All selected criteria are regarded as important by the resellers. In comparison, Lan-focused resellers required more competitive prices and product availability. Interestingly enough, the availability of the products is quoted as the most important criterion when a reseller assesses a distributor.
Beyond the reference of a product in the distributor catalogue, it is of course the ability to supply this product under increasingly stringent conditions.
The sale success of some products such as the PCI adaptors, the access routers, and the Ethernet workgroup switches make it a prerequisite for distributors to stock the references in greater quantity to meet tighter deadlines. Of course, also regarded as essential are the trade prices.
Only 11 resellers ranked price as their first parameter, while 32 resellers ranked it second. In comparison, twice as many resellers said that product availability was important.
5. Would you refuse to work with a supplier which is selling more than 50 per cent of its product direct?
Yes: 63% No: 37%
The majority of the resellers refuse to market products also distributed directly by vendors, and a number of resellers that accept this situation would eventually seek alternative networking solutions.
Further comments made numerous references to Cabletron and its newly introduced Synergy Plus programme. Cabletron has previously operated a direct sales model and resellers are assessing this certification programme.
Overall, resellers believe in a clear division between manufacturing operations and distribution channels as the means to warrant unbiased client support and eventually customer satisfaction. One reseller was quoted as saying 'hybrid (distribution) models jeopardise everybody's business and simply don't work'.
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