The sharp end of the industry

I was recently asked by the organisers of the TCA Conference if I would like to give a ten minute ?pitch and bitch? presentation about the life of a small indie. Feeling very passionate about the retail business, I gave it a shot.
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The main focus was the lack of support for domestic customers and the many hundreds of businesses that look after them. 50 per cent of computers sold this year will go into the domestic market. That is a huge number and next year it will be bigger.

The smaller independent does not get point of sale, price protection, sale or return or promotional stock. It does, however, give fantastic service and support. Customers call us instead of a vendor help line – we handle most warranty problems and don’t have call centres with long wait times.

We pay more money for our stock than the larger players, whilst offering better service, fewer returns and better customer satisfaction. Thank goodness the big guys can’t do that, or there would be nothing left for us.

Five years ago we were 70 per cent sales and 30 per cent service. Now it is the other way round and, to be honest, we make a better margin fixing hardware than selling it.

It is not just us small indies that are feeling the pinch on hardware sales. Anyone can now type a quote into Google and find a better price – that is the way of the web. Are the vendors and distributors happy with just dealing with the supermarkets? I hope they don’t end up like the farmers.

My advice is to look after the little guy – we are where the growth is going to come from. The domestic market is big and getting bigger, and together we, the indies, will have a bigger voice. As the market becomes more consumer-focused it is service over price that will win.

We recently joined the CompTIA reseller committee to help promote smaller retailers, who are seen in the industry as cowboys and pirates. 90 per cent of us, I am sure, are not – lets try and make it 100 per cent and kick the bad guys out of the market. CompTIA offers a recognised standard that we can join up to – I hope we all try and reach it.


The end of an era

Time for a quick recap of the story so far. In June 2009, the merger of the Mac Technology Association and the PCA was announced and by September the effective combining of the two organisations was complete in all but one aspect ? our websites. There was simply too much Mac-channel specific information on the MTA website to allow us to turn it off.

The way ahead for the indie channel

I have written before in this column about how important I believe it is for independent computer solution providers to turn their ?on the job? knowledge into industry recognised certifications. This becomes particularly relevant when the potential customer is a local or national government department or other government funded organisation.

The core of the industry

It?s an exciting time to be in the technology market. While brand new form factors such as the tablet and hybrid PCs are catching the eyes of gadget fans the world over, innovative new 3D and multi-touch screens look set to change the way we interact with our computers forever.

The season to be cheerful?

The IT retail sector is preparing for one of its most challenging year-ends in the last 15 years. So far, we have seen sales across all product groups fall by almost four per cent from January to August 2008 to the same period this year.

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The way forward

For the second month running, I managed to almost finish my column, all apart from the usual niceties of checking spelling and grammar ? and then something happened to make me scrap the whole thing and start again from scratch.

Sorry Apple - you have become too expensive

I thought it was about time I presented one of my more controversial commentaries. Lately, resellers have reminded me about one particular aspect of selling Macs that is now causing a noticeable problem.