AccessChannel Gives Small Vendors Access to Wide Market

By Pedro Pereira  |  Posted 2005-06-16 Email Print this article Print

The company is partnering with Ingram Micro to give small vendors with few resources the opportunity to tap tens of thousands of resellers to carry their products.

Small makers of innovative technology and boutique software developers typically find when they are ready to expand into two-tier distribution that no one will carry their product.

That's because distributors tend to think big. They require volume commitments that scrappy little companies can't fulfill and marketing dollars they do not have.

It becomes a Catch-22 in which a small company must have a distributor to achieve a certain volume, but can't get a distributor interested if it hasn't already reached that volume.

Distributors, of course, don't want to take ownership of merchandise that often is too new and market-untested even if it has potential, or, in some cases, too complex or expensive, even if carries the promise of higher margins.

Setting up new vendors requires an investment by the distributor that may never be recovered if the product doesn't move fast enough or ever.

Al Mann and Mike Terrell are intimately familiar with this situation, having both worked in purchasing at the world's largest IT distributor, Santa Ana, Calif.-based Ingram Micro Inc.

And they think they've hit on the solution to give small, low-volume vendors a shot at getting their products distributed through Ingram Micro's mammoth logistics infrastructure.

Mann and Terrell joined forces last fall to form AccessChannel, a logistics outsourcing company in San Jose, Calif., that will act as an intermediary between Ingram Micro and the vendors.

"This will be the way emerging technologies actually get their shot in the marketplace," Mann told Ziff Davis Internet.

"This is an opportunity to change the way technology manufacturers reach the market, but it's fundamentally the same channel."

Mann, who spent 12 years at Ingram Micro, is AccessChannel's CEO, and Terrell, who was at the distributor 10 years, is chief operating officer.

They decided to get together after hearing that they each, unbeknownst to the other, had been working on identical logistics models.

The distribution veterans decided to collaborate and approach Ingram Micro with the idea.

The distributor liked what it heard and signed a contract with AccessChannel.

"Ingram Micro saw the light very quickly," Mann recalls.

Why didn't we think of that earlier?


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