At a recent internal meeting one of the talking points was distribution and how much it can effect our ability to deliver our promises to our end users. We discussed who we liked dealing with, the reasons why and from a business perspective the ones that gave best value. The discussion started as a result of the recent Westcoast Small Business forum, which unfortunately I couldn’t attend but a colleague came back from with very positive results.
I’ve blogged about distribution before and in particular about needing accounts with multiple disties in order to cope with the fact that often the items you want are out of stock at one but in stock at another. Unfortunately this picture doesn’t seem likely to change so the question is if we have to use multiple disties who is our preferred supplier and in what order do the rest follow?
Here is our shortlist and the reasons why:
- Westcoast - These guys understand the SME & SBS market and are currently making a real effort to embrace the SBSC community. They provide an account manager who couldn’t be more helpful and nothing is too much trouble. Regular reviews of our credit account, competitive pricing and new reseller tools all help put Westcoast at the top of our list. Our only gripe is there are a couple of product lines they don’t stock which we sell regularly.
- Ingram Micro - Pushed out of our top slot by Westcoast, we have had a long standing relationship with Ingram which works well for us. Competitive pricing and decent stock levels is an asset. We have a decent account manager but sometimes find their returns policy difficult to implement.
- Northamber/MicroP - These two are in joint 3rd as we couldn’t really split them on pricing or account management. Both provide a perfectly acceptable service but don’t really go that extra mile. If I really had to choose between them I’d go for MicroP as they are slightly more pro-active.
We also have credit facilities at C2K, Bell Micro and Blue Solutions but we don’t use them unless we have to as they either aren’t competitive or have high delivery charges etc.
Are there any disties we wouldn’t deal with? Yes! Enta is a company we are never likely to engage with. The reason is simple - they approached us and tried to persuade us to use them, although they couldn’t provide any kind of unique selling point. On top of that they refused to give us any kind of credit account even though our credit rating is good and we could provide credit references from the other main disties. To further compound the issue they then starting calling every few days even though we had told them they were were wasting their time as they wouldn’t give us a credit account!
What would your top 3 be? Answers on a postcard please!