As if resellers don’t have enough to worry about, two U.S. online IT marketing giants are making their long-awaited expansion after entering the Canadian market last year.

CDW Corp., which last fall bought the Canadian assets of Microwarehouse Inc., is drumming up sales from small and mid-sized

companies after launching its renamed CDW.ca site in May.

As part of that effort it will host a customer event June 9 in Toronto to showcase products and productivity tools for buyers using its extranet.

The Canadian division also intends to double its sales force to 75 this year.

“We’re hiring more because we believe the marketplace in Canada, based on our research, has a significant amount of opportunities,” said Oren Hartman, CDW Corp.’s vice-president of national sales and general manager for Canada.

Meanwhile Tiger Direct Inc., which a year ago took over and rebranded the online store of its Misco subsidiary, is looking at adding a second Toronto area retail store following the opening of its first in December.

“We’re very glad we’re up there,” said Bruce Matthews, Tiger Direct’s vice-president of business development, from the company’s Florida headquarters.

“Canada is a great opportunity for Tiger. To me it was an underserved market. Customers are dying to buy from people that have good deals, good prices and good selection. We’ve grown tremendously, and think there’s more opportunity to grow.”

Behind both Canadian units are huge publicly-traded parents: Tiger Direct is owned by whitebox builder Systemax Inc., which last year had annual sales of US$1.6 billion in North America and Europe. CDW Corp. generated US$4.6 billion in sales and services.

Tiger Direct decided to take over the Misco operation because the Canadian unit was in trouble, Matthews said. Part of the solution was bringing the Tiger Direct name up here.

The company’s “sweet spot” is selling to individuals and companies who build their own systems. Surprisingly, given that more companies are going on-line, Tiger Direct is going the other way by opening stores. It has three in the U.S. and by the end of the year may have as many as 10.

In addition to the store north of Toronto, it will open at least one and possibly two in the area this year, said Matthews.

Unlike CDW, however, Tiger Direct ships most of orders here from its warehouse in Illinois.

CDW closed the Mississauga, Ont. warehouse it inherited from the Microwarehouse purchase and now uses Canadian distributors for shipping goods direct to buyers.

“One of the things we’re hoping to do is migrate folks in Canada . . . to our e-procurement tools,” said Hartman.

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