Behind the Week’s Headlines: VARs play waiting game

This value added reseller game is all about product availability and if a VAR can’t get a product a VAR can’t sell a product, and if a VAR can’t sell a product there’s no more VAR.

Or there is a VAR – a very overwrought one – one who promises a client a product

based on a vendor’s estimate of earliest possible delivery and who then hopes like heck the supplier will come through while the reseller expends a whole lot of energy on managing client expectations.

Of course whenever a vendor utters the words – “the earliest I could get it to you” – red flags should be going up all over the place. But the VAR wants that sale, and will sometimes go out on that limb. But if the vendor can’t deliver it usually results in both vendor and reseller going into the client’s bad books, often never to emerge again.

Ralph Hyatt, who left Compaq Canada to join Toshiba of Canada Information Systems Group as general manager has his work cut out for him with regards to product availability.

A senior product manager for Montreal-based Toshiba reseller Insight Canada was quoted in Computer Dealer News saying she has some customers that have been waiting since February for Toshiba notebooks and others have been waiting for accessories since last year. This isn’t anything all that new in the notebook business but it doesn’t make it any easier for VARs trying to make a buck.

Meanwhile, Denver-based software distributor Alternative Technology Inc. has opened an office and warehouse in Mississauga, Ont., so that Canadian VARs can get their products more easily and do so using Canadian dollars and avoiding cross border duties. Granted, Alternative does not deal in complex hardware such as notebooks, servers, PCs, printers and disk drives. In fact a number of its bandwidth management software products are available for download online via a product key code. The problem for manufacturers such as Tosihba is you can’t download a notebook. Not yet anyway.

Ron Tatum, the founder, president and CEO of Alternative says “We do not sell on price or exclusivity. We sell on making our customers more money.”

Can’t argue with that. We’ll keep an eye on the Mississauga newbies who were bold enough to make the expansion northward during this economic downturn.

Or is it a downturn? The Canadian economy is reported to be barging ahead.

Real gross domestic product rose by 0.8 per cent in April. Economists had been forecasting a rise of 0.3 per cent.

And what do you know? U.S. telco customers have been jumping off the WorldCom bandwagon almost as fast as subpeonas are being issued to WorldCom honchos including the milkman from Edmonton, former CEO Bernard Ebbers. U.S. reports say WorldCom customers are calling competing solution providers and ordering multiple connections with multiple carriers in light of WorldCom’s financial meltdown.

And just what is this corporate technology world coming to? Other headlines in the U.S. technology press this week blare that executives at Apple Corp. sold their own stock just before the company issued earnings warnings and Xerox may have improperly recorded more revenue than federal regulators were originally led to believe. How the mighty have fallen.

James Buchok is a former editor of Computer Dealer News. jbuchok@mts.net

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