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While various vendors and distributors have been quoted as being politely supportive of Best Buy, in the ?competition is healthy? vein, I?m sure that any independent reseller who finds one of the new mega-stores on the doorstep will be somewhat anxious about the impact this American import will have on their business.

Think outside the big box

But, although independent resellers might be rather worried, it is more likely to be DSGi that is busily looking for a change of underwear. It is my view that as far as sales are concerned the ‘big box’ retailers are simply not interested in the independents – they just don’t appear on their radar. The big guys will fight it out and there will eventually be a winner, and the smart money seems to be on Best Buy. Of course not appearing on the big ships’ radar is something that captains of smaller boats are rightly apprehensive about – you can be run over and the perpetrator won’t even notice.

Of greater concern to the independent reseller is the Geek Squad, Best Buy’s brilliantly named and cleverly marketed support service (it works on so many levels). The company promotes its technical services quite heavily and there is no doubt that this has paid off for them well in the past – in the USA they have an enviable reputation for support. But guess what, there is still a thriving independent reseller community in America. And surely it is no small co-incidence that the two leading trade bodies there focus very heavily on training, certification and professionalism, with well attended forums, information exchanges and networking events held regularly at local and national level.

The rallying cry for UK independent resellers, or at least those who would like to have the best possible say in their own survival success and prosperity, must be ‘associate and upskill’.

Meanwhile we have the fallout from the general election to contend with. One thing you can be sure of, the national government will not be pumping money into local technology projects any time soon, instead there will be cuts, cuts and more cuts. The mantra for so many of the channel’s customers will be make-do and mend, for several years, at least. And who is better placed than local technology specialists to educate users as to how they can achieve more with less? They’ve been doing it themselves for years, after all. There will continue to be plenty of upgrade business for the foreseeable future.

But why not turn current problems on their head, and really seize the initiative? Government departments and large corporations down to small enterprises are all under great pressure to cut costs. Travel is a huge overhead for many.

There is no doubt that video conferencing is coming into its own, and with entry level now around £5,000, it starts to make sense for a huge portion of British enterprises. But to get it right, resellers will have to invest time, and a bit of money, in their own education. By the time you read this, the TCA will have held its first video conferencing summit. I’ll let you know next time round how it went.

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