Unless you have already run an SMB, you might not realize that big tech companies don’t bother selling their own stuff. Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and other major corporations are too focused on the research and development of new products and services to expend time, energy, and money on getting their stuff to the consumer. Instead, they outsource marketing and sales to regional businesses called resellers.
Resellers come in all shapes and sizes, and for the most part the business is stable and rewarding. If you are interested in entering the field of tech reselling, here’s the guide for you.
Step 1: Choose Your Type of Reselling
Resellers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Reselling is an enormous industry that comprises all sorts of different business models and strategies. In tech reselling, there are a handful of varieties, of which these are the most dominant:
- Retailers. You are likely most familiar with this style of reselling. Retailers purchase a quantity of stock from manufacturers or distributors, which they then sell in an online or brick-and-mortar store. Retail is easily one of the world’s largest industries. In tech, one of the largest retailers in Best Buy, but there are often local retailers, as well.
- Channel partners. Large tech developers and manufacturers cultivate a sales channel through which products reach consumers. That channel consists of so-called partners, who essentially assume the responsibility of selling and managing client accounts. For example, ScanSource is a major member of Cisco’s partner channel.
- Value-added resellers (VARs). Some resellers enhance their products with additional products and services — they add value to the items they resell. VARs are common in tech because they can easily bundle hardware with software or service. For example, a business might offer an open-source platform as a service while providing customer support and service guarantees.
You can’t be all types of reseller at once; you must choose the reselling strategy that is best for you. Typically, that requires some research.
Step 2: Understand Your Market
This is an integral step of creating a business, whether you dive into reselling or start some other venture. Market research helps you hone your business idea to ensure you are targeting the correct consumers and offering them the solutions they truly need. As you begin your market research, you should consider the following questions:
- Who are your target customers?
- Where are they located?
- What are their tech-related struggles?
- What do they want from tech?
- Who are your primary competitors?
- What can you offer that your competitors can’t?
Through your research, you might be able to identify a niche that lacks competition, though this is rare in reselling, which relies on extant products and services. Thorough market research ensures you develop the best possible business plan — one that delivers appropriate products and services to consumers while succeeding over any competition. With this information, you can begin cultivating relationships with manufacturers and distributors of products.
Step 3: Curate Your Products
Technology is incomprehensibly diverse, and it is diversifying further every day. Even after narrowing your reselling scope to technology, you must again limit the range of your offerings, so you can provide value to your customers. If you become a channel partner, your product range will likely be controlled by the channel, but retailers and VARs must put more effort into deciding upon their products.
It is wise to research your tech products before agreeing to resell them. Typically, manufacturers and distributors have their own data on the performance of their products, which you can use to understand the products’ prior success. Once you have clients, you can also receive feedback from them regarding potential products.
Step 4: Manage Your Business
Becoming a reseller means becoming a business owner. Your reselling business operates nearly identically to other businesses; you must correctly balance your cash flow, hire the right employees, continue to understand the shifting market, and acquire new clients to find success. Reselling businesses can fail just like all others, which means you must be diligent in the management of your venture.
Fortunately, tech reselling businesses can claim less risk and more reward than other businesses. For example, many resellers work exclusively with business clients, which tend to make larger purchases and be more reliable in payments. Still, the competition in tech is fierce, so you must be aggressive to find the clients your business needs. With research, time, and effort, you should build a strong and viable reselling business.