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  • Being a Distributor in 2018

    Posted by Jacqui Rand Feb 13 - Category: News/Updates - 236 views - 0 comments - 0 likes

    Distribution in IT must be results driven; margins are tight, speed of delivery is vital, and the increasing range of services provided needs to help both sides of the channel, from vendor to VAR (and all new forms of channel providers and MSPs).  Distribution is often the piggy-in-the-middle, expected to provide channel revenue, partner enablement, slick delivery and full tracking to their vendor customers.  Whilst providing the right range of products, at a competitive price, in a manner that meets demand and with the ancillary services that might be needed by the VAR to be able to deliver to their customers.

    They are big shoes to fill as the broker, facilitator, accountant and benefactor in the channel.

    And 2018 sees more challenges with digital transformation, cloud and cybersecurity (both application and content), all requiring new GTM strategies and new delivery mechanisms as well as enablement, training and fulfilment. So, the race is on to see what moves will shake distribution in 2018 after the wave of M&A activity in 2017 (with Ingram, TechData, Avnet, Synnex and Westcon all subject to mergers).  And who will prove to be driving new business for their customers of VARS and vendors?

    From the dawn of software distributor, back in the ‘80’s they had to invest in facilities and provide an easy transaction process, even in the days of warehousing product and physical shipping, this was a necessity.  Now there are infinitely more plates spinning as they need to provide professional services that partners may need to fill any gaps in what they can deliver. This can be from financing packages (which have changed from CAPEX to OPEX based), to managed services and renewal management.  There is also a vast array of marketing support, not just a “Campaign in a box” per vendor, but marketing on demand that fits with the new social way of going to market. 

    Then on the vendor side, distribution needs to invest in training to be able to support their partners on those solutions, as well as provide an ecosystem whereby vendors can attract partners to their solution and present the business opportunity. 

    Therefore, distribution not only has to be operationally excellent, but also need to provide a social ecosystem or matchmaking service between VAR and Vendor. Perhaps there is nothing new here, it just all needs to be delivered online.  And increasingly the solutions demanded by customers are more complex and therefore a partner may need to look at five or six vendors to be able to deliver the right solution. Blending and integrating that mix of vendors brings along its own challenge; distribution needs to provide the supply chain of mixed vendors that can be impactful to a partners’ business. 

    Distribution, as broker, needs the tools that will assist, aid and enable partners and vendors to reach out to one another. In this way they help vendors find enough partners to accelerate their business (but not saturate) and help partners build a mixed portfolio that will meet their customer demands.  Then there is the added strand that one partner may need to work with another partner to gain access to expertise or Geos and they will often look towards their distributor to affect these introductions.  Channeliser underpins this effort by providing a Community-as-a-Service that distributors can utilize on their own partner portals.

    Distributors should take the lead and provide a community (or communities) for their partners and vendors to engage. Specialist, like-minded partners can share best practice and the appropriate vendors can have access to these communities. Every partner is different and as they specialise, so they need to reach out and find other partners, so they can provide the suite of products and services needed for today’s demanding customer. 

    And there is a distinct imperative for distributors as well; partners and vendors can be fickle, switching distributors or playing them off against one another for margin, but added value brings loyalty and repeat business.

    In summary, distribution needs to offer a new dimension to the services they provide; creating a valuable ecosystem that will enable partners and vendors to interact and do more business.  Channeliser provides the platform for interaction between a distributors’ customers, a “Community-as-a-Service” - adding a unique ecosystem where you can foster business alliances and partnerships, thereby increasing the value of distributor “matchmaking”.

     

    Forrester’s Jay McBain in his 2018 Predictions here

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