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Distributors Rally to Support Partners During COVID-19 Crisis

Technology is essential to support business and communities throughout the pandemic.

Lynn Haber

March 19, 2020

6 Min Read
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As every channel partner business faces a litany of challenges to keep their company up and running, their customers satisfied and their employees safe, partners are looking for answers from distribution, a critical link in their business supply chain. Distributors are rallying for their partners during this unprecedented time. Here’s what we learned.

Channel Futures reached out to D&H Distributing, Ingram Micro, Pax8, Synnex, and Tech Data. [We will continue to reach out to these and other distributors and master agents in the coming days and weeks, as the situation remains fluid.]

All distributors, with the exception of Pax8 and Synnex, have some kind of COVID-19 action statement posted on their website at this time, and all distributors have been in contact with partners via email.

D&H's Michael Schwab

D&H’s Michael Schwab

If ever there was a distribution company ready to weather this crisis, it’s 102-year old D&H — in business since 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu, a deadly influenza pandemic. “We survived the Spanish Flu through World Wars, depressions, the great recession, so we have the fortitude to see this through and come out the other side,” Michael Schwab, co-president at D&H told Channel Futures.

In fact, he said, signs of disruption in the tech marketplace started with the Chinese Lunar New Year, around January 25. “We started to see the factories not getting back to full production due to the impact of the virus in China, which immediately led to some concerns about product availability through March and April. And, that, has played out on steroids, primarily because of the huge incremental demand that’s taken place over the last week as corporations and small businesses migrate to a remote working strategy,” said Schwab.

As businesses and schools move to a remote strategy, Chromebooks, Windows notebooks, etc., as well as other technology products, mice, keypads, docking stations, monitors and networking equipment are seeing constraints with increased demand.

“I don’t expect to see that change for over the next two to three weeks,” he said. “We’re trying to secure more inventory on our partner’s behalf.”

The distributor is fielding questions from customers about products as well as what to tell their customers. “We want to communicate how we can help them succeed, including talking to our credit department, sharing our business contingency planning and so on,” said Schwab.

D&H posted a co-president’s message from Dan Schwab and Michael Schwab, as well as a short video, and points partners to a dedicated email group to handle questions. The company has dedicated [email protected] to escalate any urgent inquiries partners may have.

Michael Urban, president, worldwide technology solutions distribution at Synnex, echoed Schwab’s message. “The distribution supply chain will see challenges in…

Synnex's Michael Urban

Synnex’s Michael Urban

…the coming weeks. Specifically, PCs will continue to be in high demand as more people work from home and schools transition to digital learning. At Synnex, we have been working since February to increase warehouse inventory, to ensure fulfillment and minimize impact to customers. We are carefully managing our supply chain and taking every measure possible to avoid delivery delays.”

The distributor also noted that its team is using the latest digital technology to stay connected to customers and is adding virtual trade shows, live streaming and other digital means to share information.

Ingram Micro sent out an email to partners on March 18th assuring them that the company is doing everything possible to provide local and global support. Ingram Micro has business continuity management programs in place as well as emergency action plans per ISO certification.

In the distributor’s email to partners, the company provides a list of actions being taken addressing field sales teams, inventory levels, communication, the availability of solution bundles for remote work from home (WFH) and more, temporary fee waivers for most financial programs, tech community support and virtual training and events.

Ingram Micro’s COVID-19 action plan, posted on its website, also links to a letter to all stakeholders from March 9, 2020, and two letters to valued partners, dated March 16 and March 18, 2020.

Tech Data offers a COVID-19 statement on its website and also fields more than a dozen FAQs that include responses to the distributor’s crisis management planning and more specific questions about COVID-19, such as measures the company is taking to protect employees and other stakeholders, including vendors and partners; how a recently implemented work from home policy effects logistics and integration centers; how Tech Data is ensuring that its facilities have the necessary inventory, equipment and supplies to fill customer orders; and information about cancellation of workshops and events.

Here’s Tech Data’s statement about ensuring its facilities are equipped with necessary inventory, equipment and supplies to fill customer orders.

“We are working closely with our vendors to understand where supply chain issues may arise and how best to mitigate these risks. We encourage customers to work closely with their Tech Data sales teams to provide information about anticipated product needs. While this is a fluid situation, we are making efforts to mitigate service disruptions to our channel partners. Specific actions include working with our vendors to order adequate supply to accommodate potential disruptions, as well as monitoring vendor backlogs and shipment and delivery acknowledgement dates.”

With its Wingman focus, Pax8 is keeping its ear to the ground. “We hired some people from the MSP community and we’re reaching out to find out what’s going on, what do they need…

Pax8's Ryan Walsh

Pax8’s Ryan Walsh

…and how we can help,” Ryan Walsh, chief channel officer at Pax8, told Channel Futures.

Pax8 is responding to what Walsh calls real-time needs. “One of the top inquiries we’re getting [from partners] is about messaging and what needs to be addressed with their own staff as well as with their clients,” he said. Pax8 is sharing its own internal templates about what to say and what to do during these times, as well as best practices.

On top of messaging, policies and what to communicate, partners want to know what resources they can use — checklists, content, documents, solutions and videos. “Videos are becoming more popular and we’re going to satisfy that demand,” he said.

The cloud distributor held internal meetings to discuss how to help partners. One plan includes adding professional services, specifically around helping to enable a remote workforce; a remote workforce webinar is scheduled for next week. “This is something that partners can be doing right now,” said Walsh,

As a cloud services distributor, Pax8 is suited for these times and well positioned to help partners and their customers.

While distributors are hustling to keep the supply chain moving and employees and customers safe, there is one constant at this stage in the COVID-19 crisis. “It’s not about selling, it’s about helping,” said Walsh.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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