As software vendors move away from the distribution of boxed software and towards electronic download, what role is a distributor to play? Ingram Micro has introduced its own direction, debuting what the company calls a “Digital Locker” that holds details of customers’ software licenses on behalf of those customers’ solution providers.
The distributor’s first partner signed up for this electronic software delivery model is Microsoft, which is now offering Office 2013 and Windows 8 for download through the distributor.
Solution providers choose a SKU from the distributor on behalf of a customer, then post-transaction, the customer gets the license key and downloads the actual bytes of the software from Microsoft directly. The distributor keeps all the details of the transaction, including license key information, in its digital locker, ready to be retrieved by the solution provider should it ever be misplaced.
Jodi Honore, executive director of vendor management at Ingram Micro, said digital locker simplifies and streamlines the process of acquiring software through licensing, and as such, it believes it will allow SMB-focused solution providers to get business from very small customers (1-10 seat locations) that may have traditionally opted to buy packaged software at retail.
The service is live with Microsoft wares across North America, throughout EMEA, and in Australia and New Zealand, part of a global effort by the distributor to build on its software business.
Honore said that any partner that can access the offered products can opt to do electronic software delivery instead of the traditional software model, and that the terms and conditions of involvement with Microsoft’s wares are the same in the electronic world as they have been in the physical world.
As well as making a previously hard-to-reach part of the market more accessible, the distributor suggests that going with ESD will help solution providers accelerate their software business, as downloads are available immediately, and attract no freight costs for the distributor, reseller or customer. Honore said ESD can also open up the business to a variety of solution providers that have not traditionally have software licensing practices – again, particularly local VARs and MSPs that deal with small-business customers.
Honore said the idea for the Digital Locker had been in development at Ingram for some time, and that Microsoft was the right vendor to launch with. But the goal is to broaden the company’s electronic software distribution horizons in the very near future with other software companies.
“I’ve already had a few [other vendors] reach out to me looking for a bit more information about it, and that’s all good for Ingram and our partners,” she said. “I’d like to add other vendors as soon as they’re ready to go.”