There are a wider variety of channels from which businesses can buy their hardware, from value-added resellers and systems integrators to direct-from-manufacturer and retail.
Hollywood superstars like Angela Bassett and Jamie Foxx are more than highly paid members of the entertainment community. They’re also heads of their own businesses, which manage those big-ticket movie deals and multi-million-dollar salaries. Like every other small to mid-size business owner, they struggle when it comes to buying computer hardware.
Or at least they use to.
Foxx and Bassett are just a couple of the celebrity clients that have turned to a value added reseller (VAR) called Affluent Technology (a spin-off company of the VAR Ross-Tek) to help them navigate the maze of options in buying computer hardware. Dubbed the "VAR to the stars," Affluent Technology’s founder, Frederick Johnson is selling more than computers or even expertise. He’s selling trust. With a clientele that is especially sensitive to securing its data (away from the tabloids -- for starters), Johnson has found a niche market where discretion is as necessary as a firewall.
Not all business owners are quite as sensitive about their privacy as Hollywood’s A-list. However, at least to some degree, reliable service is essential. It just depends on how much or what kind of service you need. The answer to that question should determine which buying channel to use when shopping for computer hardware.
“Whoever or whatever you choose, you need to develop trusted sources,” says Steve Rucinski, an Ohio-based 30-year management veteran and producer of the popular business blog, Small Business CEO.
There are roughly four shopping channels to choose from. Here’s a look at the upside and downside of each.
Using a VAR or systems integrator
Business owners looking to upgrade their computer hardware should answer the following questions before making any moves.
You get what you pay for. For tech-savvy business owners who know exactly what they need, including make, model, and specifications, then price is likely the only factor to consider. In that case, buying direct, bargain shopping online or through the sales circulars of a local retail outlet is the best bet.
However for the business without the in-house knowledge to make informed purchasing decisions, factor in the cost of educated and trusted expertise and expect to pay a little more. In that case, hiring a systems integrator to make purchasing decisions or going to a VAR is going to serve the company best.
Sidebar: Buying Mistakes to Avoid
Robertson, of Covenant Technology, sees companies taking the same missteps in making their technology purchases again and again. Here are some of the classics: