Dealer services group Synaxon has extended an olive branch to the Approved PC Retail Network - a new collective that has a service similar to Synaxon's own TrustATec offering.
The Approved PC Retail Network already has 50 paid members. It started out around a year ago as a Facebook group for indie PC retailers to share ideas, and has grown to negotiate better deals with suppliers and launch a 'find your local store'-type website, similar to Synaxon's TrustATec, which also allows end users to find local IT services and dealers in their area.
Synaxon's UK MD Derek Jones has responded to the news with open arms.
"I think it's brilliant what they're doing," he told PCR. "I love it. I'd be happy to help them out as a community, arrange a meeting or if they want to set up as a separate thing, we could potentially add them to the Synaxon website.
"But whilst I absolutely admire any group of independent retailers that encourages community spirit and cooperation, I personally believe that this new organisation would be wise to focus on channel community and sharing of information, tricks and tips on repairs, new cloud opportunities etc, but steer clear of trying to build commercial benefits for the group members."
Jones says that a collective of indies without a single company entity, infrastructure or dedicated staff (that groups such as Network Group and Synaxon already have) may struggle to get off the ground and flourish.
"I'll always endorse and encourage dealer communities, but to try and take it into a serious commercial organsiation, there's no chance without serious funding," he added.
"They've got to focus on their business and being a professional indie dealer. They don't have the experience to launch something like Synaxon does. They will need huge advertising and infrastructure.
"The concept of dealers working together for mutual benefit is far from a new one, it has been done for the past 25-plus years, but other than the obvious benefit of sharing information, no dealer run organisation - set up by dealers for dealers - has ever delivered commercial benefit to the participants without investment.
"I personally have been involved within dealer communities spanning over 25 years - as a participating dealer, as a group owner, as a chairman and as a director - and never, in the history of the UK channel, have I ever seen a ‘not for profit’, dealer run organisation (run by dealers for dealers) succeed.
"A small subscription fee from the dealer for participation on the new website will go nowhere and deliver little or nothing back to the subscribers - the cost of succeeding should not be underestimated."
He also said the lack of uniform pricing, investment and partnerships may hinder the new collective. Comparatively, Synaxon's own TrustATec scheme has partnered with TrustPilot and invested heavily to develop the service.
"Synaxon UK is well established upon the tried and tested systems developed over 30 years by Synaxon AG - the largest, most successful and longest established dealer community across Europe - if the new Approved PC Retail Network is looking for help and support then Synaxon is happy to assist in any way that we can, well done to the founders," Jones commented.
"But at the end of the day you get what you pay for. They haven't got a centralised uniformed identity across the UK.
"Of course this new enterprise has a chance of rivalling TrustATec but it can only do that with significant professional planning, professional fulltime management and above all with huge investment by the founders.
"TrustATec took several years of planning and then beta testing before fully launching in January 2016, we have a professionally built and managed website, we have a marketing team in Germany that work continually on our AdWords campaigns (currently c.£4,000 per month), we have a full time staff member in Warrington supporting subscribing members and producing professional blog posts, we have ongoing web development with new features like the new link for those with on-line trading stores, we invested in Trustpilot to offer meaningful credibility (testimonials from end customers) to our members services - and we have invested in national branding with each store receiving a comprehensive store marketing pack.
"TrustATec is a UK network of professional independent technology companies that share a national identity and sell across the UK at agreed uniform pricing for service, repairs and upgrades.
"TrustATec proactive partners are now receiving 40 to 60 web hits per week via the portal and many partners are continually working on local jobs that have been generated through their TrustATec subscription.
"Every TrustATec partner gets their own exclusive geographic area and we now find ourselves turning down as many applications as we accept, TrustATec is successful and will continue to thrive as Synaxon UK makes further significant investments into the concept."