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Web service acts as dating agency for resellers and disties

Everyone sounds keen, but will they do the business?

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A week-old company is offering resellers the chance to use an on-line forum to source products. The site, run by Zygonet, hopes to persuade distributors to register so they can be emailed resellers' requests. Distributors will then e-mail their quotes to the resellers and compete on pricing. The service will be free for both parties at first, but distributors will eventually be charged £2.75 per day. There will be no advertising on the site. The head of zygonet.com, Paul Stokes, was adamant there were advantages for both sides. He said distributors would gain new leads, while resellers would get more competitive deals. Channel players were sceptical, but agreed it could be a good idea in principle. Ed Ewing, general manager of communications at Computer 2000, said the distributor was keen in investing in on-line trading and was interested in the idea, but he admitted it was hard to tell how successful it would be. Ewing said: "The only stumbling block I can see is that people don't just buy on price. A lot of other things go into the mix, like service levels and credit provision." Peter Rigby, CHS director of marketing and communications, described it as pseudo e-commerce. He said: "It's definitely the way things are going, but it sounds complicated, and isn’t the kind of process that's indicative of the business at the moment. It needs to be immediate." Resellers were similarly dubious. They believed it was a reasonable concept, but said they were mostly loyal to existing distributors. Steve Rush, marketing director of Surrey-based Rapid Group, said: "Volume is the key to everything. We have our favourite distributors, and put a lot of business their way. In return, they keep their prices down for us." Others said the success of Zygonet would depend on enough distributors being willing to pay for the service. Distributors said they were interested in talking to zygonet.com, but would be unwilling to plough cash into the venture at present because it was hard to tell how successful it would be. ®

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