The good, the bad and the authorised

Trying to get a grip on which companies possess authorised distribution rights for which vendors can be an arduous task in any region, let alone one with an effervescent sub-distribution community and deep-rooted trading mindset like the Middle East

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  April 27, 2008

Trying to get a grip on which companies possess authorised distribution rights for which vendors can be an arduous task in any region, let alone one with an effervescent sub-distribution community and deep-rooted trading mindset like the Middle East.

The sheer volume of distribution and wholesale companies operating in the region undoubtedly creates a vibrant environment, and one which has gained a reputation as a place where you can source any IT product, new or old.

But such a convoluted landscape also generates certain issues and behaviours, the most obvious of which are grey marketing and parallel importing. There is an argument that a little bit of grey can go a long way for a vendor that needs to correct temporary imbalances in its supply chain or flush product through the system, but for most vendors it produces nothing more than an unwanted headache.

I'm sure vendors will agree that while the composite nature of channels in the region has its advantages, they would much rather see a stronger level of transparency prevail. Let's not forget, it's in their interests - both short and long term - for the market to be clear about the exact identity of their official second-tier partners. And that means understanding which companies serve as authorised distributors for which brands or products.

Most IT resellers and traders will know off by heart which distributors carry a particular brand because they'll be taking frequent calls or receiving visits from the more proactive ones for a start. But that's not always the case. For many resellers, especially in the volume space, keeping tabs of who's authorised to distribute what can be an impossible job.

The uncertainty that this lack of transparency creates might not seem a big deal, but that doesn't mean it's detrimental to the pains that vendors and distributors go through to make a relationship work and communicate a harmonised message to the market.

If you're an authorised distributor that is investing in developing a vendor's brand, providing marketing resources and making a firm financial commitment then you want the vendor to do whatever it can to promote your role. Equally, if you're a vendor that has spent time and money assembling an effective distribution network then you will want to maximise that investment. After all, the outlay is wasted if the reseller community perceives no value in regarding authorised distributors as the primary source for genuine products and vendor-endorsed support.

Unfortunately, the lack of transparency that persists can prove confusing for resellers that are bombarded with calls from multiple suppliers offering the most competitive prices or attractive payment options. If vendors don't clarify which distributors are authorised to supply their products and provide support, then they can't complain if resellers turn elsewhere or purchase from unofficial sources.

In the next issue of Channel Middle East we'll attempt to provide some transparency to this situation by publishing our ‘A to Z of authorised distribution in the Middle East' - an alphabetical listing of all the leading IT vendors and the distributors that officially carry their portfolios in each of the key Middle East markets.

The guide will serve as an up-to-date resource on the distributors that vendors have entrusted with serving the channel in markets such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

For resellers it will provide a conclusive rundown of the distributors they need to be working with for access to genuine products, first-class service and quality support - particularly useful given the changes that vendors in the region have made at distribution level in the past year.

If you're a vendor then it's in your interest to be in the A to Z - which is why you can do your bit to ensure that is the case.

All you need to do is take two minutes out of your day to fill in an A to Z listing sheet, which you can get by dropping me an e-mail and your inclusion is guaranteed! As usual the address is andrew.seymour@itp.com or you can call me on +971 (0) 4391 0889

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