Solution providers presented with customers looking for flexibility in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic are getting new options from Ingram Micro Canada, most notably in the form of a new financing program that allows customers to wait and see whether they want to buy or lease.
Under the Future Funds program, customers can purchase solutions and pay a minimal “interest-only” payment for six months, after which time they’ll have the option to select to either pay for their purchase in full, or put it onto a lease financed between 12 and 60 months.
Kelly Carter, chief financial executive for Ingram Micro Canada, said the program addresses a key customer concern right now, namely the uncertainty of their cash situation in the near future.
“We’re seeing a lot of uncertainty amongst end-user customers in terms of should they finance or buy, will they be cash-constrained going forward or not,” Carter said. “This program gives them a lot of flexibility to get the technology they need right now, and decide how to structure it later.”
Like other financing offers from the distributor, Carter stressed that the financing can cover not only goods and services purchased from Ingram but other services solution providers wrap around the solutions they sell, including managed services. And helping solution providers with their own cash flow, partners get paid upfront.
“They have all their cash and the risk is taken on by the financing company,” Carter said.
While the program is available across the gamut of technology the distributor sells, no doubt a lot of solution providers will be looking to apply it to customers who are rapidly expanding work-from-home options and the technologies that enable them in the face of the current pandemic and ensuing shutdown of offices.
Carter said while the program is available to all customers, subject to credit approval, it’s targeted primarily at “mid-tier, SMB-oriented solutions” because larger enterprises might be able to secure better terms on their own.
Automating credit increases
At the same time, Carter said the distributor is extending additional credit to the company’s solution provider customers. In a press release, the distributor announced $110 million in additional credit for the company’s partners, spread over 2,000 North American solution providers. Carter suggested the additional Canadian credit extended was around 15 percent of that total, or $16.5 million.
She explained that while the distributor has always regularly revised credit lines for larger partners based on business reviews, it was looking to automate the process of providing credit increases to “the long tail” of smaller solution providers it works with. This builds on a process rolled out at Ingram in the U.S. to automatically monitor the accounts of smaller resellers that are regularly using credit and ordering from the distributor, and provide them with additional credit proactively. The result of that rollout in Canada was “a big sweep” of the company’s smaller customers in this country this month, Carter reported. But there’s more available to partners who might need it right now, she stressed.
“Any partner can get in touch with us and we’ll take a look at their situation and try to increase their credit line or be flexible with them on terms during any cash crunch period they may face,” Carter said.
The distributor continues to strongly advise solution providers to always lead with financing options for customers, particularly ones that allow the solution provider to get paid upfront.
“We’ll continue to work with them to make sure they’re offering solutions to their customers so we can all get through this healthier than ever,” she said.
Distributing in the time of pandemic
The distributor’s warehouses remain open despite the pandemic and the need to shutter non-essential businesses to allow for physical distancing between people, said Bill Brandel, country chief executive for Ingram Micro Canada. He stressed that things have been business as usual for distribution, and Ingram — like other businesses that support IT and telecommunications functions — remains open for business as an essential service to the economy.
That’s not to see there have been no changes. Brandel said the distributor cleared out its offices last week, and everyone in the organization who can work from home is working from home. The distributor was aided by recently moving to enable work-from-home as an organization, although Brandel said it had been motivated to do so by the fear of weather-related interruptions.
“Our intent is to stay open and serve the Canadian marketplace,” Brandel said. “We’re proud to be able to supply the much-needed technology and support to those companies as they prepare their workforces.”