When it comes to building custom systems, staying on the forefront of technology is crucial. The very nature of these VARs' jobs is complex: There is no such thing as a standard solution. Different customers require different solutions.
Solution providers, therefore, have come to rely on particular vendors for certain product expertise. Here, we look at what market dynamics are driving VARs to particular vendors in the following categories: Desktop/server memory; hard drives; notebook memory; CD/DVD drives; video cards; multimedia speakers; x86 Chips; motherboards; power supplies and keyboards.
VARs that "build their own" are open to many different vendors, including those represented in our best-seller data, as measured by NPD Group/Distributor Track, which aggregates sales through members of the Global Technology Distribution Council. But they also source products from other vendors, who might offer different features in products attractive to the solution providers' customers. And those customers can run the gamut from SMBs to gamers to schools, even other VARs.
Reliability is a key factor for both solution providers as well as their customers. If a VAR's vendors prove flaky, they'll turn to another before their customers do. The individual components are the building blocks to the ultimate result; a faulty foundation makes a lousy product. Of course, quality products and loyalty from a manufacturer is paid back with a greater share of business.
It's also a question of taste for these builders. What appeals to one customer may disappoint another. It's a constant lesson in customer service, and in being able to read current trends correctly.
The following pages highlight the trends custom builders are noting in specific product categories.