Reseller says XML app key to increased sales

A software reseller says its sales volume is increasing without having to invest in new offices or infrastructure due to a new XML ordering application from Ingram Micro Canada.

The application, called Mustang, allows resellers to place orders online from Ingram Micro Canada, as well as check order status, pricing and availability.

The Mississauga, Ont.-based distributor will make the XML solution available to its resellers on Oct. 2, the start date for its IM Ready Tour, beginning in Vancouver. Toronto-based Softchoice Corp. beta-tested Mustang and has already rolled it out.

“It’s basically turned the clock speed of our business relationship (with Ingram) up significantly and it’s allowed us to create an environment where we can serve our customers better,” says Softchoice CEO Dave MacDonald.

“We are able to now find out what’s going on in terms of delivery and lead times and all that kind of stuff without having to go into different systems or make phone calls or send faxes.”

“It’s designed primarily for the reseller,” says Ingram Micro Canada’s senior director of IT, Jonathan Merrell. “For instance, (it can) show me how many NEC monitors have been purchased in the last month and what price I paid for them.” The application can easily be integrated into architecture like Office XP, he adds, and is appropriate for Ingram resellers of all sizes.

The application includes data mining tools to allow users to search order histories and generate reports, but the main advantage, according to MacDonald, is that it will allow him to increase orders processed without increasing his workforce or opening new offices. While primarily for resellers to keep in touch with Ingram ordering, Mustang can also be turned into a customer tool. Since the application is XML-driven, a Web interface can be added, meaning reseller customers can order online.

“We’re trying to manage our infrastructure without growing it or stretching it, and increase the size of our business. (The application) gives us the opportunity to do that without increasing our costs,” says MacDonald.

The ordering system should expedite throughput for Ingram Micro, says Merrell, but the distributor has no plans to make any cuts in its sales or support staff, especially before Mustang’s viability is proven. “I hope it increases our ordering electronically quite dramatically,” he says. “However, we’ll have to answer that question six months from now.”

Softchoice has six offices in Canada and 29 in the United States. Seventy per cent of the company’s business is conducted in the U.S. The Ingram XML application only supports its Canadian offices at present but will roll out to its U.S. locations shortly, according to Softchoice’s IT director Chris Moore.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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