Canadian resellers of point-of-sales equipment may be able to get IBM hardware through a second source soon if a partnership with Supercom Canada bears fruit.

IBM Canada and the national distributor are looking at creating channel a for Big Blue’s point-of-sale (POS) products, the two companies

confirmed.

“”We’re working on a trial basis with Supercom to see how well we can play together in this market,”” said Donna Lester, retail store solutions channel manager for IBM Canada.

IBM’s line includes the SurPOS 300, 500 and 600 hardware, printers and screens.

“”IBM does not have much Canadian presence for these products,”” explained Sandy McLeod, Supercom Canada’s senior product manager. “”Most of them have to be sourced out of the U.S. and through a U.S. distributor, so the Canadian reseller base have to live with that and deal with U.S. currency and delays in shipping.

“”A number of our resellers would like more of the IBM products and they’ve identified point of sales as an opportunity in the small business arena.””

If the deal goes through it would offer an alternative for Canadian resellers to ScanSource Inc., a U.S.-based distributor with offices in Toronto and Vancouver that carries the IBM POS line.

Among the customers is NRT Technology Corp., a Toronto reseller. “”We can get things here next day free of (shipping and duty) charge”” through ScanSource, said John Dominelli, NRT’s president and CEO.

“”Supercom can’t compete.””

But McLeod said its advantages will be having stock availability, and product and sales marketing.

“”We’re working with one hand behind our backs at the moment because there are about 40 or 50 resellers in Canada that are actively in this market and buying product from the U.S., and IBM doesn’t want any displacement of that investment,”” said McLeod

The partnership began early last month, he said, with Supercom Canada sales staff talking about the IBM products to top resellers to gauge their interest. If enough say yes then IBM Canada will offer its POS line through the distributor.

If things go well distribution will start in January 2004.

“”The unique thing about point-of-sale is it does not come with any software and needs someone to integrate a solution that’s customized for the end user,”” said McLeod. “”So the reseller base can’t just be pushing boxes. They have to have a solution that can be installed.””

Lester wouldn’t say how much reseller interest would be need to justify opening the new channel. “”That’s for Supercom and us to decide as we move down this path,”” she said.””

“”We’re looking for incremental growth into our channel organization.””

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