Businesses Increasingly Purchase PCs Through Retail Channel: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

A Techaisle report finds VARs are facing increased competition from online PC retailers.

In 2010, 27 percent of PCs purchased by U.S.-based SMBs were through the retail channel, according to a report from IT research firm Techaisle. In overall market terms, including consumers and large enterprises, almost 50 percent of PCs were purchased through retail in the United States, the report found.

"In 2010, although a consumer-led year, retail gained importance for both the consumer and SMB segments," says Tavishi Agrawal of Techaisle.

The report also noted the importance of the growth of Internet retail sales in the small to midsize business (SMB) market segment—which continues to deliver year-over-year double-digit growth with a rate of 15.1 percent and indicates the price consciousness and technology maturity levels reached by U.S. SMBs in 2010.

The share of proximity dealers/resellers, however, continues to decline (18 percent year over year) as they chronically suffer from a weak proposition versus the immediate availability found in technology retail stores and the price competitiveness found in Internet retail shopping outlets.

The report said desktop PCs are posing an "interesting challenge" for the channels. Unit sales are increasing by 1.8 percent, but in a market with greater than 5 percent growth they are actually decreasing. "Our research shows this decrease in desktop unit sales translates to greater focalization. The product becomes less appealing by a broad spectrum of customers, and thus fewer channels are interested in selling it," said Paolo Puppoli of Techaisle.

The company’s view in developed markets is that desktops are increasingly becoming niche-type devices, which are gradually sold in volume mainly through specialist channels such as VARs, whose capability to package products together with solutions often requires customization. The report noted that the VAR channel is, nonetheless, well-poised to capitalize on the growing SMB mobility trend and the technology complexity it brings, reporting a 2010 growth rate of 40.5 percent.

A February report from Techaisle found global SMB overall PC penetration at the end of 2010 was 59 percent, with 37 percent in the emerging markets—a saturation rate that is forecast to reach 50 percent by 2014. PC penetration is calculated as the number of SMBs actively using at least one PC divided by the total number of SMBs. 

By format type, desktop PCs are still SMBs' choice of device type with unit sales equaling 61.3 million (51 percent of world total). Notebook PC sales totaled 54.3 million (45 percent), and netbooks totaled 4.5 million in sales. However, notebooks are forecast to exceed desktop shipments in 2011. The company noted the data excludes tablet PCs such as the Apple iPad.