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C2000 keeps resellers In Touch with ecommerce

Telephone is an inefficient way of doing business

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Computer 2000 has launched a electronic commerce system which it claims will increase resellers sales productivity by up a third. Called InTouch 2000, the SAP-based system hooks up to the mainframe in C2000’s European headquarters in Munich, and pumps out real-time pricing and stock information. Undaunted by its previous inability to persuade resellers to place orders on earlier versions of In-Touch, C2000 aims to funnel 25 per cent of transactions through the system by the end of 1999. "This is the way of doing business in the future," Andy Gass, deputy MD of C2000 UK, said. US parent company Tech Data's ecommerce system had -- after a slow start -- seen orders doubling each quarter, he said. The company is basing its reseller pitch on improving sales floor effectiveness. "The telephone is not an efficient way of doing business," Gass said. “It takes resellers a minimum of three calls to get price/ availability information to customers. We are giving the information to enable salespeople to close deals in one call. By providing prices online, we will improve customer satisfaction.” By automating the ordering process, C2000 also expects to drive down its returns, although it declined to specify by how much. The distribution giant has gone live with In-Touch 2000 in Belgium, Sweden and in the UK and plans a Europe-wide roll-out in coming months. In Sweden, C2000 is trialling a reseller-branded version of the system.If successful, it will extend this service offering throughout Europe. Resellers link up to In-Touch through a password-protected Internet interface. And they can place their orders using a shopping basket utility and search engine which trawls through the 32,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) on C2000’s books. The ecommerce system is not completely seamless. It does not accept orders by credit cards for example, and resellers make payments through their usual credit accounts. CC2000 is considering adding the facility in the future, Gass said. In Touch cannot handle channel assembly or late configuration requirements. Special bid pricing will continue to “require some form of human intervention”, according to Gass, while pointing out that credit card payments currently comprise less than two per cent of reseller transactions.” Tech Data is currently working with PCOrder.com on an ecommerce system capable of handling channel assembly. This should make its way across the Atlantic at some point, Gass said. A lot of tweaking could be required before it can be used in Europe, as Tech Data logistics do not run on SAP. For bin ends and spiff day prices, C2000 is using another “e-distribution” mechanism -- a push broadcast service. Using Active X-enabled Windows IE 4, UK resellers receive news of C2000's promotions, as they happen.® Click for more stories

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