Tech Data Canada has taken a big step towards electronic software distribution (ESD) with the introduction of its Activate-Here ESD platform in this country.
Developed in Europe and also available in the U.S. for about a year, Activate-Here is a system that solution providers can use to instantly deliver software keys to customers, and combined with downloadable software packages, eliminating the need for boxed software for non-licensing software purchases.
“Instead of buying the retail box, the reseller processes the order through Activate-Here, and the tool e-mails the key to the end user within minutes,” said Manal Guirguis, director of product management at Tech Data Canada.
The distributor is starting with Microsoft – offering a variety of Microsoft boxed SKUS from Office 365, to Visio, to SharePoint, to Windows 8, through the Activate-Here system.
With optical devices disappearing from computers in a push to be thin and light, and the prevalence of mobile devices and new operating systems driving users to various app stores for software acquisitions, boxed software is clearly on the decline. Digital download means solution providers can deliver a piece of “boxed” software to users in a matter of minutes It’s odd to hear a distributor talking about the elimination of pick, pick and ship as a benefit, but that’s exactly the case for Activate-Here. ESD will prove a ground leveler for the commercial channel, and particularly smaller resellers, when it comes to software, Guirguis predicted.
“There’s 24/7 availability on any item, delivery is within an hour, and there are no limits on numbers – buy one, or buy as many seats as you need,” she said. “It eliminates additional costs and touches in the supply chain.”
It also puts smaller solution providers who may have lost out on boxed software sales to competition from big-box and other retail stores back in the game, allowing solution providers to provide at least the same level of service in terms of product delivery, and differentiate on their consultative and value-add services.
The tool has proven popular with solution providers in both Europe and the U.S., and Guirguis expects that popularity to be at least replicated in Canada. In fact, demand could be higher in Canada because of economies of scale that mean fewer Canadian solution providers carry significant stock than do their colleagues south of the border.
“We have a number of reseller partners based in Canada who’ve worked with both our Canadian and U.S. operations,” Guirguis said. “They’ve seen the tool, and they’ve been asking us for access to it here in Canada.”
The distributor also plots a marketing push to support the launch and educate partners on Activate-Here’s capabilities.
The e-mail sent to end users with their purchased software keys can be white labeled in the solution provider’s brand. The only connection the end user will necessarily have to the distributor is in a message at the bottom of the e-mail saying the software tool is powered by Tech Data.
Activate-Here is available now for Microsoft products off the company’s reseller portal. Additional software partners are likely to come online in the next three to six months, Guirguis suggested.
“As we add more vendors, it will be a one-stop shop of digital software for our commercial reseller partners,” she said.