With many solution providers and the customers they serve facing a credit crunch related to the simultaneous contraction of business due to COVID-19 and need to invest in technology to support work-from-home or other workplace changes, D&H Canada is highlighting a number of new financing options.
The distributor has announced a partnership with DLL “and one additional D&H finance partner” to offer the company’s customers 60-day terms through the end of June. That joins a variety of other financing options the distributor is highlighting through a number of its vendor partners, such as Lenovo’s current expansion of terms through 90 days through June and similar terms available from HP Financial Services, and is part of what Tom Guagliardi, vice president of sales and vendor management at D&H Canada, describes as the distributor’s long-term commitment to increasing the amount of credit available to its partners.
“We’ve been investing every year in a significant amount of downstream credit, in increasing credit lines for our SMB-focused partners, in giving them longer terms and a larger credit base.”
As the impact of the pandemic on channel partners’ businesses, both those apparent in the short term and those more likely to materialize over time, become clear, Guagliardi said the number one request the distributor is hearing is around those minds of extended terms. As a result, it’s focusing not only on its own financing efforts, but on highlighting the financial flexibility being offered by partners like Lenovo, HP, HPE, and Cisco.
“We’re trying to marshal not only our own resources but also working with our vendors very closely to do that as well,” Guagliardi said.
Like much of the business, the distributor saw an explosion of activity in March, as many solutions providers helped customers who had not embraced much work-from-home activity quickly change stances to allow much more of their employee bases to work from home. Guagliardi reported that in March “computers, monitors, mice, keyboards… all the things that you would have in an office, on a desk, that you could purchase to work from home” spiked dramatically and that trend continued into April. While the distributor’s retail business has obviously been challenged as brick-and-mortar stores either shutter as non-essential businesses or face serious slowdowns as shoppers stay home, the slack has been picked up a nationwide spree of buying from e-commerce sites.
With that flurry of activity levelling off towards the end of April, Guagliardi describes much of the industry moving into a mode of “waiting and seeing what’s going to happen next.”
“We’re taking measures to make sure that our partners are taken care of, both from a product perspective and from the finance perspective,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to try to continue to help them build.”
At the same time, the distributors itself switched to much more people working from home rather than its Brampton, Ont. headquarters and other facilities. Guagliardi described that process as “seamless,” largely owing to recent memories from its U.S. parent. In the States, the distributor recently moved into a new headquarters, and Guagliardi said that experience had seen most everyone who could work from home, work from home for at least some time.
“People were already in that mindset of working from home from a corporate perspective, so that worked very well,” he said.
For those working remotely, Guagliardi said the distributor has bee holding “multiple webcasts” every day, both at the team and the organizational level, to make sure everyone is supported.
“We want to make sure everything’s on track, and everyone’s safe,” he said.
But the biggest changes might have been for those on the team who can’t work from home — moving all of those computers, monitors, and peripherals requires a warehouse team that was simultaneously very busy and having to adjust to new public health and safety guidelines.
“I can’t say enough about how fantastic our warehouse team has been, as they’ve done everything properly, from the social distancing in the warehouse, to the disinfecting and the cleanliness,” Guagliardi said.
The distributor’s marketing programs have historically focused heavily on in-person events, which are obviously not the way any business is working right now. So Guagliardi said the distributor has switched things up, running virtual events its calls THREADcasts in the place of in-person events, which were to be rebranded as THREAD Technology Conferences for this year. Last week, such a THREADcast replaced the scheduled Montreal Technology Conference. While it may lack the local feel the distributor tries to create at such events, it does give D&H and its vendors a chance to address the top-of-mind issues of the day to a cross-Canada audience.