A new third-party support service
is intended to help VARs that feel neglected by manufacturers
and distributors get the attention they feel their products
Traditionally a computer retail merchandiser, Toronto-based
A&A Merchandising Ltd. is targeting the VAR market on behalf
of major computer manufacturers to ensure that VARs are in tune
with new product offerings and channel activities.
"There is a lot of targeting at the retail level and at
high-end VARs," says A&A president Andrij Brygidyr.
"But the small to medium-sized VARs that are doing about
$800,000 worth of business for any one manufacturer are being
Brygidyr says the neglect is not intentional. "VARs are
difficult to identify, and there are so many out there. It
becomes a logistical nightmare to keep track of whoís doing
what and how much business theyíre pulling in."
Instead, companies such as Markham, ON-based Borland Canada
Inc. hire A&A employees to visit stores as their company
reps to talk about promotions and product features. A typical
30-minute call will consist of: an update on promotions,
especially those offered in conjunction with a particular
distributor, such as Merisel or Ingram Micro; a rundown on
specific product features and benefits over competitive
offerings; and information on support policies. "We invite
them to seminars or sign them up for special programs,"
says Brygidyr. "They look upon us as a support mechanism,
something to help generate sales."
Borland president Steven LeeYing says the service makes
economic sense because A&Aís 17 dedicated VAR reps, who
are located across the country, allow his company to get
information out quickly. Manufacturers can save even more by
teaming up with other companies with complementary products.
Then a rep can divide store time and talk about products from
two companies on one call.
"This type of thing has been done in the food industry
for years, but for computers, itís quite novel," says
LeeYing, who personally helped train the A&A employees who
represent Borland to its VARs. He says he also appreciates the
data tracking that comes with the service. "It allows us to
get a quick snapshot of the market and it means we donít have
to have a body here to gather statistical information."
Although many companies using the service are major
manufactures, they prefer to remain anonymous and portray
A&A employees as their own. "Some of these VARs may not
like the fact that these services are third-party," says
A&A can be contacted at (416) 503-3343.