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Distis should choose vendors with caution

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CIOL Bureau
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PUNE, INDIA: Ambiguity about dead on arrival (DoA) products, lifetime warranty and service issues were the most debated topics at The IT Panchayat held in Pune on December 19, 2008.

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These issues saw several partners voice their discontent about the way distributors handle them and expressed that they anticipated better support from them. The IT Panchayat provides a unique platform to channel partners and distributors to find out the solution of the issues faced by the entire community.

President of the city’s Computer and Media Dealers Association Pune (CMDA) Shital Nahar voiced the grievances of the channel community.

Kiran Morgaonkar of Ingram Micro India, Bhupesh Tank of Savex Computers, Suhindra Yakkundi of Neoteric Infomatique and Christoper of Redington India represented the distributors. Channel partners alleged that distributors promised all sort of help and support while selling the product. But when it came to post-sales servicing of the product they shy away and pass the onus on vendors, especially in the DoA cases.

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As a solution to this, Ghanshayam from Benchmark Solutions, suggested that the distributors should not debit the payments that the partner had made on those products for which DoA complaints had been raised or should keep buffer stock for over the counter replacement.

But most distributors present said that they had to abide by vendor policies for such instances and it was not possible for them to withhold payment for the DoA products.

“We cannot do anything until and unless a product is certified as a DoA case by the vendor, which unfortunatele, takes a lot of time,” said Morgaonkar.

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When this debate turned into a heated argument the moderator, Vinita Bhatia, Executive Editor, DQ Channels, intervened and urged distributors to play a proactive role to find out the solution, as a sub-distributor or reseller finds it tough to chase a vendor for the same.

This was accepted by everyone in the Panchayat unanimously. Similarly, the definition of the lifetime warranty offered on Transcend USB drives was also debated extensively.

Kishore Motwani of Indika Enterprises said, “First of all, the lifetime warranty of a product is not defined. Secondly, if the product has a lifetime warranty than why do distributors ask for its serial number, which might get erased after some period of time.”

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 The replies from distributors were satisfactory for the partners present, but Christopher noted that his own company had taken this issue up very seriously with the vendor and was hoping for a quick resolution for the same. Another hot issue was the post-sales services offered by vendors who do not have a direct presence in the country.

In most instances of this nature, the distributor also doubles up as the service partner. Resellers are helpless when the tie-up between the distributor and the vendor is broken.

At that point distributors refuse to take the responsibility while the vendor can’t be reached,” pointed out Jayant Laskare of Konark Mirco Computers.

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Tank and Yakkundi acknowledged that this could be a problem but these were strategic decisions entered by the management team of the distribution house as well as vendor companies. “There is not much we can do in such cases, but nonetheless because it is an area of concern we will make our superiors aware of it,” Tank promised and the other distributors agreed to do the same.

At this point several partners in the audience asked distributors to also keep in mind these long-term issues while entering into alliances with them, because ultimately they were responsible to the channel.

“If I can go an extra mile to provide support to my customer, even if he is no longer purchasing from me, then I expect the same from my supplier ie the distributor,” noted Motwani.

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The issue of physical damage of product and short shipment was also raised in the Panchayat. Currently in the case of short shipments, the partners had to inform the distributor about the same, who then informed the vendor and after a turnaround time of close to several weeks, the component is sent back to the partner. |

This is where partners like Rajesh Chaudhari of Asterix Computers suggested that distributors can shorten the entire process if they just accept photos or videos clicked by partners, post it online and get the same resolved quicker. While accepting that this was a good idea, all distributor representatives said they would have to take this up internally to see if it was possible.

But though there were debates on many issues, Nahar noted that CMDA’s efforts to work closely with distributors and try to resolve issues amicably had worked positively for the channel.

He applauded the distributors present for their efforts to make the business as smooth flowing as possible but added that there was still a lot of scope for improvement.

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