Cisco has launched a direct sales web pilot for its low-end products, leading to reseller concerns that the move could spark major channel conflict.
From this month, end users will be able to purchase Cisco products by clicking a 'buy now' button on the product datasheets at the company's website.
The networking giant will begin the scheme by selling six products over the internet targeted at small to medium sized enterprises. The products include wireless local area network and fixed configured switches from the Aironet and Catalyst lines.
In a statement, Cisco said these products have "little to no channel value" and it would sell them at list price. The scheme, which will run for 90 to 120 days, will allow the company to gauge whether end users can successfully install these products without the help of a reseller, according to Cisco.
Tony Fisher, sales manager at reseller Deverill, said: "This scheme is obviously in an embryonic stage but it will take bread off our plates. If Cisco can sell pre-configured low-end equipment successfully, what is to stop it pre-configuring mid-range products?
"High-end equipment will always need a reseller but it would be up to Cisco to pick out who gets the installation contracts. The little guys could miss out because why would it look beyond its gold partners?"
Damon Dance, sales director at reseller Repton, agreed. "It will lower Cisco's cost to market but can only reduce business for the channel and pressure us to reduce margins," he said.
However, Dance questioned the long-term success of the scheme. "I don't believe this is the right sort of technology to buy over the web. Cisco products are hardly the same as a Paul Simon CD," he explained.
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