Apple has announced a new online ordering system for its US resellers that will allow its customers to order products through a special Apple Store and receive commission credit. The new system will take much of the burden off Apple Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Apple Specialists by drop shipping products directly to customers instead of having to facilitate ordering, shipping and handling.
The new program is called the Authorized Business Agent Program and was introduced to dealers this week in a meeting at Macworld Expo in San Francisco with some 175 Apple Specialist dealers, who are independent Apple resellers throughout the United States. The program allows customers of a reseller to access a special Apple Business Agent Online Store and order hardware, software, or services directly from the manufacturer. Customers will then enter a special reseller code so the dealer can make a commission on the sale. The product is then directly shipped to the customer.
It is expected that many of the third-party products currently found on the Apple Store will also be available for reseller clients.
Dealers will still be able to sell product the old fashioned way by a customer coming into a store or office and walking out with product, but the new system will shed some of the burden off resellers to ihandholdi the order from start to finish.
The program is also expected to help dealers cut overhead by not having to stock as much product. "Apple handles credit arrangements, fulfillment, and returns," Wendy Hayes, the senior director of Apple sales said in a written statement to resellers. "Consequently, you can reduce administrative, inventory, shipping, and service costs. Customers do business with you and Apple provides the back-end infrastructure."
In addition to getting commission credit, Apple will also give dealers additional commission if customers purchase "agent-recommended solutions"
Apple Specialist dealers The Mac Observer spoke with after learning of the new program were very pleased with the announcement. "This is going to save me a lot of time and effort," said one Texas-based dealer. "I can now have the customer configure online just the way they want and theyill get it direct from Apple. This is going to make it easy for a lot of my bigger customers."
"The flexibility for the customer will be significant," said another east coast dealer. "My customers have always been asking how they could buy online and give me credit. Now they can."
Not all resellers will qualify for the new program. Current dealers must meet stringent requirements ranging from having at least US$1 million in liability insurance, meet any current reseller training requirements, employ at least one dedicated Apple salesperson for face-to-face sales, and many more. Many of these requirements are already being met by existing Apple Specialist dealers.