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Dell channel partner has some concerns

Canadian channel partners seek non-competition assurance from Dell

Small PC resellers are seeking reassurance from Dell Canada that the giant computer maker will not muscle in on their customers.

At least one Calgary-based Dell channel partner expressed concern over fears of being undercut by the Round Rock, Texas-headquartered company.

“Channels want a give and take. We need to know that Dell will not undercut us on a deal,” said Stuart Crawford, principal and director of business development for IT Matters Inc. a technology provider based in Calgary.

He said IT Matters has not had such an experience although there “were some reports of stores in the U.S. being undercut.”

Stuart also said channel partners would also like to see direct vendors shoulder some marketing and promotional costs for their products as well as provide them with some guidance on what devices customers are interested in.

He said the online back-up and technical support offered by Dell is a very popular value added service among IT Matters customers, but sales could be boosted further by a “bit more assistance.”

“Perhaps they can assist in funding advertising, marketing events or trade show presence. If they can send experts to advice us on what products are ideal for certain customers, we can better target our efforts.”

IT Matters, which supplies the small business market in Calgary, is a 26-employee firm that sold over $1.5 million worth of Dell products last year. Crawford aired his concerns on Wednesday shortly after a roundtable discussion on SMB issues sponsored by Dell in Toronto.

The computer maker also released results of a worldwide survey on the attitude towards information technology products of 1,800 SMB owners and experts worldwide. The report showed that 66 per cent of SMBs regarded IT products as essential for business growth although 75 per cent found budget constraints as a damper on technology deployment.

One industry analyst said competition from direct sellers is a common fear among small resellers.

“So far, Dell has been good in dealing with its channel partners but there is that fear that they are competing with the small sellers,” said Michelle Warren senior research analyst for Info-Tech Research Group of London, Ont.

In Canada, Dell should focus its efforts on getting its products on the shelves of small resellers, she said. “More than 95 per cent of the businesses in Canada are SMBs and these organizations are usually more comfortable dealing with boutique stores or providers their own size.”

Warren’s views were bolstered by results of a survey released by Dell during the roundtable discussions. The survey indicated that 49 per cent of SMBs in Canada consider other small businesses in their industry as “role models for implementing technology.”

Kevin Peesker, vice-president and general manager on the SMB division of Dell Canada, said the company was listening to the concerns of its channel partners.

Greg Davis, former Dell president and general manager, was recently appointed as vice-president of commercial channels in the Americas region to “pull together a solution provider channel strategy.”

Davis, however, said it was too early to discuss the plans.