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Europe's sales surge, but vendors should use deeper distribution services

The European IT market has surged in the first quarter, says the Global Technology Distribution Council, looking at the sales through distribution in the first three months of 2017. Clearly and overall, European is now growing faster than the US market, on a 13-week trend basis, says Tim Curran (below), CEO GTDC. Virtually every country is showing positive growth.  January was up 3%, by March 2017 this 13-week average had risen to 6%, and this sort of growth is holding, he told the annual GTDC European Summit held in Vienna.

A year ago some countries were still in decline, but in March 2017, Spain was up 13%, Portugal 19% France 4%, Belgium 12% Germany 7%, Norway 16%, UK 12%. This shows that there is a real opportunity for growth in the industry, he added.

Looking at net new growth, he highlighted the opportunities in UK, Germany, France, Italy and Czech Republic which all showed strong levels of new business. But other work by the GTDC on buying intentions among consumers showed some hesitation, especially in the UK where Brexit overshadowed the findings, in France and in Greece with lower spending expectations due to the economy. The others are very positive however, with income expectations and propensity to buy on the rise. In Slovenia, for example propensity to buy was at a ten-year high while the Czech Republic was at an all-time buyer high. The distributors in these markets offer a clear way to reach these rising sales, he said.

There is a bold new world in distribution, providing more than pick, pack and ship, and as a resource for vendors in their go-to-market strategies. “We come from an industry based on inventory, cost and fixed assets, but the amazing integration between distribution and the vendors has produced an industry with lower inventory, but much higher fulfilment rates. That makes it more efficient and profitable,” he told the assembled audience of vendors and distributors in Vienna.

This is a very effective model, and distribution has now widened as a model to touch every part of the supply chain. In recent years they have also deployed services which can be added to vendors offerings to give better satisfaction for the user. Leveraging distribution services means vendors can grow their profitability. A new report on distribution service in EMEA out soon will highlight the various offerings from members.

The top three services are demand generation, education and training and solutions development. “Vendors and solution providers are not yet full utilising the range of services on offer from distribution however, hence the campaign, in conjunction with IT Europa to raise awareness. Distribution can also help solution providers with skills shortages, particularly in the technology solutions around cloud. Vendors often say they need help to enable their partners to take advantage for the new ways of working,” he said. Distributors are doing this now, he concludes, but there is still more that they do that vendors are not yet making use of.  

  • GTDC, representing the 22 largest distributors globally, has added four new members since its last meeting.