The winds of consolidation have been blowing across the pond to Europe for a couple of years now, but conventional wisdom is predicting that things could go further.
Some even claim that what happened to the US distribution channel during the late 1998-2000 period will be mirrored in Europe.
The worrying element for the channel is that it is not just the smaller players that are being affected; some of the bigger boys are also feeling the pinch, as highlighted by the news surrounding distributor Actebis and Microwarehouse's Chapter 11 filing in the US.
In the past, these big-volume players were considered as safe as houses, but a great deal of economic subsidence has rocked the foundations of these well-established firms, as has falling demand from end-users and rationalisation by vendors.
Industry watchers and resellers are hoping that the consolidation will not go as far as it did in the US, where billions of dollars were taken out of distribution.
Perhaps it makes financial sense for vendors to reduce the number of stocking partners and look at direct fulfilment or dealing with resellers direct.
But vendors must not lose sight of the vital role distribution plays for resellers in terms of holding stock close to the customer, credit lines, training and marketing.
For example, one reseller recently told me that there was a lot of pressure from certain vendors to deal directly with his business because it was the reseller, not the distributor, that was winning new business for the vendor.
Fulfilment would be done by the vendor, so there was no need for the reseller to hold stock or use a distributor.
But his response was that, if a managing director lost a laptop at an important client, would he be prepared to wait 10 days for a replacement and lose the business, or would he want a new machine straight away from distribution?
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