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Consumer bulk buying to rattle channel’s cage

Web-based purchase plan seeks big discounts by going direct

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The dealer channel is under fire from a US company planning to use consumers’ combined demand to win big discounts from manufacturers. Called Accompany, the idea behind the initiative is simple and can be effective. Customers will be invited to register at a Web site and use the power of bulk purchasing to go direct to the manufacturers of a wide range of consumer goods, bypassing the channel and - in theory - paying less than if they bought on the high street. Computer hardware and software will be the first things to be hit by this outbreak of consumer power. Accompany will advertise the products’ starting prices and as more people subscribe to the service these prices will fall as economies of scale come into play. Based in the US, Accompany has designs on coming to Europe. It is set to set to launch in April - the company’s chief executive, Jim Rose, said this was due to the site being flooded with requests to join from consumers. "The situation, as we see it, is like a party. When we realised how many people were coming, and that they had invited all their friends, we decided we had better get more chips and beer," he said. After its assault on IT, Accompany will be turning to other electrical goods, such as washing machines, fridges and so on. ®

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