Why Ingram Micro came out on top

CDN’s Resellers’ Choice Awards are always a tight race — and this year was no exception.

Ingram Micro Canada narrowly beat out Synnex Canada for the top distributor award with a score of 4.05.

Supercom Canada and Tech Data Canada came in third and fourth, each with scores

just under four.

EMJ Data Systems came in last with a score of 2.86 — though this score was likely affected by its merger with Synnex last July (and some resellers may have voted for Synnex in place of EMJ). In last year’s competition, EMJ tied with Tech Data for top distributor.

This comes at a time when the distribution world is evolving to focus less on product margins and more on business solutions.

It also comes at a time when critics argue the IT market is over-distributed, that there are too many players in the market.

Trying to differentiate

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen distributors try to differentiate themselves from the pack, revamping their business models to focus on key verticals and provide additional support for VARs.

But such close scores show that no single distributor is far ahead of the pack. In fact, Ingram Micro topped only one category: Innovation. Supercom beat the competition in the areas of availability and delivery, while Tech Data topped the range category.

For its part, Ingram Micro has pursued a diversification strategy; setting up divisions for consumer electronics, gaming, logistics and components.

It further targeted the small and medium business market by expanding into point-of-sale products; it recently purchased San Diego-based Nimax Inc., a distributor of automatic identification and data capture/point-of-sale barcode and wireless hardware and software.

E-commerce tools

Over the past two years, e-commerce has become an important focal point for the distributor, and it’s beefed up its offerings in this area.

For example, it developed the iBiz10 business model, which provides VARs with access to e-business tools by extending its service offerings. This includes Mustang XML, Government e-Pipeline, e-procurement and online account statements. As part of this, VARs can develop product catalogues, manage customer accounts and track order fulfillment — something that likely helped Ingram Micro earn points in the innovation category.

Broadline distributor Synnex, which came close to winning the top distributor award with a score of 4.04, lead the pricing category. It will be interesting to see what happens to this company in next year’s vote, following its merger with EMJ, a niche distributor known for its strength in service and support.

It remains to be seen how the combined entity will affect Synnex’s low-cost pricing model — and if service and support will become more important to its business model.

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