VARs Cash In On SOHO Market

More manufacturers of consumer electronics are turning to the reseller channel to reach the SMB/SOHO space,and they're bringing high margins with them.

In many cases, the vendors' new products are too complex to be installed by retailers, said Michael Timar, national products manager for facsimile and SOHO IP devices at Panasonic, Secaucus, N.J.

"Most consumer electronics companies make a box, and [even a teenager can sell the box. But a lot of communication is shifting to the IP network where you don't have the educated sales force," Timar said. "The VAR channel knows how the technology should work and can sell this."

Panasonic sells network cameras through distributors, including D&H Distributing, which is educating consumer vendors on the channel, said Rob Eby, director of purchasing for consumer products at D&H.

"This has been a learning experience for them. They're used to going into a retailer and saying, 'Here, this goes with a DVD and VCR,' " Eby said. "You don't buy this off the shelf and understand it. It takes professional installation."

Panasonic's network cameras can bring 30 to 40 points of margin to solution providers, as well as installation and network integration services revenue, Eby said.

ASG Computer Services has installed Panasonic's cameras in day-care centers, Taco Bell franchises and other small businesses, said Ray DeLuca, sales consultant at the Wallingford, Conn.-based solution provider.

"We're going into areas that we could never get into before. It's enabling us to set up high-speed Internet access, add the network cameras and design a system [for the day-care centers in which parents can go online and watch their children," DeLuca said.

Meanwhile, ASG hopes the project with Taco Bell will parlay into corporate work for the fast-food company, DeLuca said.