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Tech Data is preparing a new cloud-based software sales platform and a soup-to-nuts mobility sales platform it says will provide turnkey solutions to solution providers in both markets.
Early next year, the distributor plans to unveil a major revision of its StreamOne automated software licensing and sales tool that will enable solution providers to brand the technology as their own, thereby allowing a VAR to manage the customer's software purchases under its own name.
Tech Data is also preparing to launch TDMobility, a new turnkey platform it said provides all the tools a partner needs to help customers select, purchase, and activate mobile devices without ever dealing with the carrier.
StreamOne and TDMobility were introduced to solution providers at Tech Data's Channel Link conference, being held this week in Los Angeles.
StreamOne, which Tech Data introduced in February, guides solution providers through a simple question and answer process to both search for the right software application based on customer requirements as well as the most appropriate license.
Tech Data currently has over a half-million software SKUs, said Toby McDuffie, director of software product marketing for the distributor. The StreamOne application filters down to the exact software application and license per customer needs.
Tech Data is currently the only distributor to work directly with software vendors to get real-time information on their applications, McDuffie said.
Sometime this Fall, StreamOne will be integrated on Tech Data's web site, McDuffie said. The company next March expects to unveil a new white label online storefront that will let its solution provider partners to present the offering directly to customers under their names, she said.
"A lot of people do SaaS, or online software downloads, but not both," she said. "We do. That's a big piece of our requirements. There's a lot of demand for business-to-business titles as well as business-to-consumer titles for e-tailers."
Joe Quaglia, senior vice president of U.S. marketing at Tech Data, said one could think of StreamOne as similar to Apple's app store.
"The lines are blurring between consumer and professional business," Quaglia said. "A solutions store like this is something people really understand. Our offer to host B2B solutions like this has not been available to the channel before. We're going to provide the logistics for this."
That blurring of consumer and professional business is also evident in some of the features for StreamOne, including the ability for customers to rate the software they purchase and to easily search for what they need, Quaglia said. "I don't see anyone else doing that for the channel," he said.
Solution providers said providing convenient online software storefronts using their brands should make the software selection process easier for them and their customers.
Kevin Wang, business consultant at Noviant, a New York-based solution provider, said he likes the idea of StreamOne because it brings new sales resources to smaller partners that typically do not have the resources to do so on their own.
"A lot of vendors are doing something like this," Wang said. "The advantage for us is we can bring the reselling process more directly to the customer."
However, solution providers said there is a risk that the process could be too easy.
Tom Johnson, president and owner of Computer Technology Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based solution provider with both a hardware and software practice, said he is concerned such storefronts could diminish his company's value in the eyes of its customers.
Next: Easing The Mobility Sales Process For VARs