Tech Data partners gain wireless order option

Tech Data Canada resellers could fling away heavy laptops in favour of ordering product from a wireless handheld device if they take advantage of a new partnership struck by the company.

It has signed Toronto’s FingertipWare to sell special version of its Mobile Profit sales order management application for Windows Pocket PC devices. The Tech Data Edition allows sales staff to wirelessly check product price and availability from the distributor and to issue orders.

In addition to a handheld device, users need a wireless data service, an XML connection with Tech Data, and a licence from FingertipWare, which costs $24.95 a month and includes software and future upgrades. Currently, there are approximately 350 resellers who have a Tech Data XML connection.

Frank Haid, vice-president of sales for the distributor, said Mobile Profit will make resellers more successful because it allows them faster access to the company’s warehouse.

“”The Tech Data version (of Mobile Profit) provides one degree of separation,”” said Haid.

“”Instead of having to go back to your office system and log onto Tech Data’s Web site to check price and availability, it can all be done on your handheld. It’s lightning fast and instantaneous real-time information showing all of Tech Data’s warehouses, as for availability, and depending on the customer their price for the product,”” he added.

He wouldn’t say how many resellers he expects to adopt the application.

According to Tech Data, the release of Mobile Profit was held back to coincide with the release of mobility packages from Rogers Communications and Bell Canada.

Tim Grimes, co-founder of FingertipWare, said his company’s goal is to licence Mobile Profit to other large distributors and enterprises.

“”It would be something similar to something to what we’ve done with Tech Data,”” said Grimes. “”The handheld experience will be something very near identical. The big challenge is the integration with their back-end system. Tech Data has a very unique back-end, and another other customer would have their own unique back-end environment.””

Grimes, who left Microsoft in 2003 to start up FingertipWare, said one of the main challenges in getting Tech Data resellers to adopt Mobile Platform is first getting them add to a wireless data service in addition to their voice plan from Rogers or Bell.

“”That’s a big obstacle for us because those are net new capabilities,”” he said.

On the plus side, Grimes said FingertipWare is hoping to leverage Tech Data’s strong relationship with Microsoft.

“”The reseller community at Tech Data is a very heavily Microsoft Windows-type of environment in the PC reseller channel,”” he said. “”Their ability to understand what they get with the Pocket PC platform, will hopefully come faster to them versus a building supply contractor.””

With the application the entire 65,000-item Tech Data product catalogue information can be stored on the device, but users can choose product groups to download. The database can be synchronized every morning for new products. Quotes and orders can be sent by e-mail or fax to customers or directly to Tech Data.

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