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Tech Data offers free e-store

Steve Booth was shopping for a storefront e-commerce solution recently when a free one fell out of the Web.rn

Steve Booth was shopping for a storefront e-commerce solution recently when a free one fell out of the Web.

So Booth’s company, Calgary-based Teckhead.ca Corp., a networking solution provider, became one of the early users of InstaStore, an offering from Tech Data Canada.

It’s a new product

of the distributor’s three-year-old partnership with The Business Network (TBN), an online supply chain management service provider for manufacturers and distributors.

A Web store solution that Tech Data resellers can brand with their logo, InstaStore’s catalogue is populated with products from Tech Data Canada.

It’s free for a 90-day trial. The demo version, however, won’t let users directly order products online. Instead, they can request an e-mail quote.

Resellers can move up to a version with more features, called InstaStore Plus, which is also subsidized by Tech Data. However, to prove they’re serious applicants have to take a $1,200 TBN course detailing how to best take advantage of e-commerce.

“”The biggest thing for us is to provide to our customers access to the vast majority of products we sell,”” Booth said in explaining why he wanted an online presence. “”A lot of the time they don’t realize we offer everything from CD-RW media to cluster servers.””

Millenium Network Administrators Inc. of Dundas, Ont. is another early tester. “”Once we sell a client a solution and earn their trust it’s easier to keep that contact by procuring any other needs they have,”” explained president Naim Minawi.

Online experiment

“”It’s an introduction to the e-commerce world,”” David Spindler, Tech Data Canada’s director of business development, said of the company’s offering. The distributor wanted to give resellers “”something they can experiment with.””

InstaStore is a “”watered down version”” of the full e-commerce solution TBN has been offering Tech Data Canada resellers since 2002.

Minawi said he looked into the solution recently but balked when told there was a $7,000 annual membership. TBN couldn’t be reached for comment.

For InstaStore the distributor is paying TBN for every VAR that signs up, plus a bandwidth charge. TBN will also collect the training fee under InstaStore Plus.

Tech Data Canada’s goal is to get VARs to use its catalogue instead of those from Ingram Micro and Synnex Canada.

While all three carry many of the same products, each has its own product number, Spindler said.

“”If we can seed the customer marketplace with our [product] information so it’s easy to do business with Tech Data Canada . . . that’s pretty powerful.””

So far about 100 resellers have signed up with InstaStore, and Spindler hopes that will rise to 250 by April. About 10 VARs are moving to InstaStore Plus.

Booth sees some advantages.

“”The biggest value is people can see what we have available and can call and ask if we can do something for them.””

However, he regrets InstaStore doesn’t have the ability to add custom services his company offers.