Tech Data's Online Tracker

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor launched the tool at its TechSelect Partner Conference in San Antonio last week.

"The market has trained consumers to expect this information, but they don't get that consistently from the channel at the moment," said John Tonnison, vice president of worldwide e-business at Tech Data.

Solution providers and customers can go to to check orders, and e-mails are sent out soon after the shipping information is scanned into Tech Data's system at the warehouse, Tonnison said.

Solution providers can also set up rules to control tracking information for each customer, he said. "We see that as a unique opportunity to give the reseller a better buying experience for his customer," Tonnison said. The idea germinated from TechSelect's Internet Commerce Council of about two dozen solution providers, he said.

Sponsored post

"They designed it, they pushed it and we built it to the resellers' instruction, basically. It's the best example of how a focus group can get something done," Tonnison said.

The tool is similar to what e-tailers such as or offer, but it is something that has been absent in the channel at the SMB level, said Paul Zoz, president of BizCo Technologies, a Lincoln, Neb., solution provider.

Tech Data is the only distributor to offer this information, which could lead to more loyal customers, Zoz said.

"Once people get used to this, customers will expect those e-mails on a regular basis. The second a reseller places an order [from a distributor other than] Tech Data and they don't get the e-mail, they'll be calling saying, 'Where's my e-mail?' " said Zoz, who now buys one-third of his products from Tech Data.

About 20 percent of BizCo's inbound calls are end users asking when their shipments are going to arrive, Zoz said.

"We end up manually looking it up on Tech Data's Web site or calling Tech Data and having them look for the information. This automates the whole process," he said.