Picking the Right Hardware Distribution Partner
Let’s consider the difference between a distribution service and distribution partner. A service implies supply and demand: it’s transactional. Your business orders a product and the distributor promptly… continue below
Let’s consider the difference between a distribution service and distribution partner. A service implies supply and demand: it’s transactional. Your business orders a product and the distributor promptly ships it.
Conversely, partnerships involve interaction. A quality partnership includes support, mentorship and exclusivity. In other words, it helps you successfully implement and support the provided products.
These days, most businesses need a partner more than a service. The ever-changing technological landscape pressures businesses to constantly evolve their offerings. But discovering and adopting new products consumes time and resources. Partners alleviate such pain-points through various programs and incentives.
Preliminary Partner Assessment Criteria
In your industry, there may be multiple distribution services from which to choose. Before you can qualify a partner, you must investigate three fundamentals.
- Catalogue: Who does the distributor work with? Can you order the products your customers need?
- Stock: Does the provider guarantee stock or maintain a full catalogue? Unless your products arrive in good time, the catalogue means little.
- Price: Do the prices fit your budget and/or margins? Moreover, how do they compare to the competitors. Always calculate how discount and tiered-pricing programs might offset product costs.
Weighing Partner Incentives
Once a distributor satisfies the above criteria, assess any partner incentives they have available. Regarding such, consider the channels in which they operate and the resources with which they do so.
The customer base a distribution partner maintains affects the support you can expect. It reveals the skill sets and focuses of its staff. The broader the market, the less focused its support and its programs. A specialized partner will have better resources and make more accurate recommendations.
In the very least, your distribution partner should pass along product information. For example, manuals, spec sheets and any marketing materials supplied by the vendor. What sets a partner apart from its competitors is what it includes in addition to such staples.
How does the distributor help you adopt new products? For example, do they run training programs or offer real-time support? More importantly, are they devoted to keeping their clients up-to-date on all market matters? Businesses like yours need updating when something monumental happens in the industry.
A community combines the channels and resources available through the distributor. Communities comprise user-generated content like product reviews, forums, and case studies. Such things help you as a provider see what hurdles others experienced and overcome. Furthermore, it removes any biases found in some vendor information. Partners that facilitate real-life conversations about their products lend insights otherwise unavailable.