Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Right?
Well, maybe in some circles. But not here. A direct market reseller (DMR) does online or call center-based sales of IT products directly to customers without benefit of a brick-and-mortar retail outlet.
DMRs largely create their profit margins by sourcing products in sufficient quantities to attract volume discounts. They also go to great lengths to ensure efficient logistics and processes which can help to strip as much cost as possible out of their model. Clearance items also tend to find their way to these web sites on a frequent basis, which also helps to keep prices down. So DMRs have always tended to be a good option for cost-conscious end customers with enough tech knowledge to know what to do when the box shows up.
In recent, years, however, direct market resellers have been raising their games when it comes to services. Though the actual footprint can often vary widely from company to company, many DMRs now have stories to tell regarding assessment, planning, design, installation, configuration, support, and even managed services. So, in many cases, they’re not just box pushers anymore.
There’s certainly no reason why the services coming from a direct market reseller can’t be every bit as good as the services coming from any other variety of channel partner, but an extra layer of due diligence is probably in order.
Customers might want to ask about who actually delivers the services. Is it the staff of the DMR, or is it a contractor? If it is a contractor, who is the contractor, and what is their background and areas of technology focus? Which entity is actually on the hook for the warranty and the guarantee? Are the answers the same in all regions and states? Be sure the sales rep is singing from the correct song book that reflects terms and conditions for your state/location.
Asking your various cohorts if they’ve had any experience with the companies involved can also save you a few cycles down the long haul. Remember the key is not to require a company that has never made a mistake or dropped a box. It’s about how they handled whatever situations might have arisen. That’s where the credibility is built.
Other channel partners may tell you that, as a small business, you might appear to be just another brick in the wall, as far as a direct market reseller is concerned. So you will be called upon to assess how much customization and how much personal touch is necessary to meet your company’s specific needs. And depending on the DMR and how that DMR is set up, perhaps they can meet that higher need, assuming it does exist.
But all of these things are factors that impact the overall value of the offer, even though they are not directly calculated into the bottom line. When money is tight, the bottom line is king. But even a king has conditions and circumstances to which he must respond.