More small businesses going retail route

More SMBs than ever before are choosing to buy their IT kit from retail stores, according to HP, posing an increasing challenge to traditional IT resellers.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  May 12, 2005

More SMBs than ever before are choosing to buy their IT kit from retail stores, according to HP, posing an increasing challenge to traditional IT resellers. At HP IPG EMEA’s ‘Shaping the Future’ event in London this week, senior vide president Michael Hoffman explained to press that although the reseller channel is still key at present, “retailers are increasing the challenge.” The reason behind this, he said, is that small firms in particular "simply want to go to a store, see and touch a product.” According to HP, 24% of ‘very small’ businesses (5-25 employees) buy from retail outlets, compared to the 55% who work with resellers and 19% who buy direct or from ‘e-tailers’ online. This retail figure drops to 15% for ‘small’ firms (with 26-250 members of staff) and tails off to just 10% for ‘medium’ sized businesses that employ 251-500 people. As for how SMBs approach the acquisition of their computer equipment, Hoffman quoted HP’s own European research to explain that over half of SMBs (53%) only ever work with one or two suppliers, who provide everything they need. As Hoffman put it, “SMBs worry about their business, not their IT. If the relationship works, they’ll stick with it. This means their first experience with a vendor is very important.” Half of the SMBs HP spoke to also confirmed that they value a relationship with a supplier rather than a brand.

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