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Web-sales rises
The rise and rise of the Web is, thankfully for resellers, now starting to tail off as Internet share prices go into steep decline.
Incidents such as the Compaq's one pound PC's for sale through the company's Web site (see below) will have dented customer's confidence in direct-sell sales through the Internet.
However, Web sales of everything are still set to rise significantly in the years ahead, according to a report just issued by Fletcher Research, the UK research arm of Forrester (www.forrester.com). The report predicts that business-to-consumer (b2c) online shopping is set to soar to reach 20 billion pounds in 2005. This figure, of course, covers all aspects of products and sales services, but it is worrying nonetheless. The report, entitled `UK Online Retail: From Minority to Mainstream,' says that the driving force behind the surge in the UK is the increasing range of interactive devices such as interactive digital TV and mobile phones.
Fletcher's study predicts that 7.5 per cent of the UK's retail sales will move online by 2005 - a massive rise from the 0.25 percent of all retail sales in 1999. This translates to the total of 1.7 billion pounds in online retail revenues in 2000, rising sharply to 20 billion pounds by 2005.
Shobhit Kakkar, an analyst with the research firm, said that leisure travel and computer products are now the two largest Web sales marketplaces. The computer product sales this year, he said, will be worth 410 million pounds.
The report says that UK retailers will increasingly concentrate on fulfilment, dynamic pricing and channel integration. Retailers will shift emphasis from transparency and ease-of-use of their online offerings, and consumers will expect integrated, customised services.

Red faces as Compaq sells PC for a pound
Compaq has ended up annoying its customers in the UK after the company's UK operation managed to offer PC's on its Web site in late may at just one pound each. Even worse, when the company realised its mistake after the weekend, it announced it was reneging on any orders made on the site, despite legal precedent favouring the customer in such situations. Compaq said that more than 100 potential customers ordered an Ipaq Legacy Lite system, which normally sells for 530 pounds. One user even went as far as ordering 50 units.
Compaq said that the one pound price tag was caused by a system upgrade on a Friday afternoon. The PC vendor said that, as it was a genuine mistake, it does not plan to honour any sales. After media attention into the affair, Compaq said it was prepared to offer the potential buyers a free printer if they went ahead and ordered a PC at its proper price via the Web site.

IBM & Lotus pitch for mid-range dealerships
IBM and its Lotus Development software division have revamped their software business partner compensation plan for PC and Unix workstation software. The new plan shifts compensation available to eligible business partners who add value in e-business solution sales, targeting Midmarket and small businesses. The result, IBM claims, is increased profitability and competitiveness of value-oriented partners.
IBM says that the `value compensation plan' is the first scheme of its type in the software industry and will encourage dealers to add value to their hardware sales. James Neiser, vice president of IBM's software distribution channels, said that the company is determined to be the best partner to dealers in the software industry. "By enabling our business partners to market and sell e-business solutions in the fast-growing mid-market, we're taking a big step towards that goal," he explained. As part of the program, IBM and its Lotus operation have launched Passport Advantage Online (PAO), a Web-based tool to streamline business processes for business partners and their customers. PAO is IBM's PC and Unix workstation software volume licensing scheme and will, the firm claims, simplify subscription renewals, resulting in increased renewal close rates, and lower overall transaction costs.

Fujitsu Siemens & Fujitsu change names
From June 1, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Fujitsu's Unix PC's have become known as PrimePower and Primergy series. The name change, which has already started in the UK and US, will be extended globally this summer. The global rebranding is the result of close co-operation between Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Fujitsu, and will, the companies claim, further strengthen both firms' expanding presence in the Unix and Intel-based server sectors. While the move has puzzled dealers in the UK, the vendor says it will see a standardisation of all Unix and Intel-based servers across both Fujitsu Siemens Computers and the many companies of the worldwide Fujitsu Group.
The name change will see Fujitsu's respected Teamserver and GranPower series name disappear from the UK and West European dealer channel, which had previously regarded the Primergy servers as aiming at a different segment of the business market. Dr Joeseph Reger, Fujitsu Siemens Computers' vice president of marketing, said that he sees a great benefit to extend the Primergy brand name to all of the firm's servers. "We will be adopting the Solaris-based Fujitsu Sparc servers under the PrimePower brand as our next generation Unix offering," he said. Given that the reseller channel - in the UK at least - is only now just settling down after the progressive merger between the Fujitsu and Siemens brand names, the renaming move is certain to confuse business customers.

Pegasus cancels annual reseller event
Pegasus caused more than a little few of its dealers to start worrying when it cancelled its annual reseller conference just four days before the UK event was due to take place. The 150-plus resellers who were due to attend the two-day conference in late May were contacted by Paul White, Pegasus' newly-appointed managing director, who told them that no new date for the event has yet been set. White was apparently hurriedly appointed after the acting MD, Chris Leak, suddenly left the accountancy software firm just a few days before. Resellers are concerned about Pegasus' acquisition of Freecom.net, the business Internet firm, in early May. Soon after the acquisition, Freecom.net itself acquired Systems Union, one of Pegasus' main accountancy software rivals. White, who joined the firm from Systems Union, meanwhile, has promised resellers that want to present them with a viable dealer strategy - something he said he could not do after just four days in the job. Reports suggest that Pegasus dealers are looking to other accountancy software suppliers for their livelyhood, as reports that Pegasus has a number of significant changes to its reseller strategy in the pipeline.

Forrester, http://www.forrester.com;
Compaq UK, 0044-20-8332-3000 (GB), http://www.compaq.co.uk;
IBM, 0044-20-8818-4459 (GB), http://www.software.ibm.com;
Fujitsu Siemens Computers, 0049-89-6364-1932 (D), http://www.fujitsu-computers.com;
Pegasus, 0044-1536-495000 (GB), http://www.pegasus.co.uk


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