For Softchoice, one of North America's largest software resellers, the recent decision to expand into hardware sales was not a hard choice to make.
"In the SMB space, a lot of our customers that purchase software are also responsible for buying hardware," said Dave MacDonald, president of the Toronto-based solution provider, which sells primarily to U.S. companies. "For the most valuable relationships and the most convenience, we wanted to offer a full array of hardware and software capabilities."
Softchoice currently sells 200,000 software titles through its 27 U.S. branches and five branches in Canada. The 12-year-old company added printers, monitors, laptops and desktops in September. The decision has already been rewarding, MacDonald said, as the number of hardware quotes Softchoice receives has grown rapidly in the past two months to more than 800 per week now.
Hardware is a natural complement to the company's software line, MacDonald said. "We're using our knowledge of customer software requirements to leverage into helping them understand what would be the best hardware solution," he said. "Software drives the requirements for hardware. For example, someone running Adobe Photoshop will have a need for a large disk space to store the images they want to manipulate."
To facilitate the move into the hardware arena, Softchoice expanded its product information base, trained its direct-sales and call-center personnel, and recruited employees with experience in hardware marketing and logistics, the company said.
Taking advantage of distributors' shipping options has also facilitated the transition, MacDonald said. "Through the channel, we can take advantage of best-in-class service from [companies such as Ingram [Micro, Tech Data and Synnex [Information Technologies and provide the customer same-day or next-day delivery of the vast majority of their technology needs, without having inventory on our books," he said.
Softchoice said it initially will be targeting hardware sales at its SMB customers but also has its sights set on U.S. government customers.