What’s the difference between a channel partner, a distributor and a reseller?


What’s the difference between a channel partner, a distributor and a reseller?

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someone correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like it’s 95 percent branding? i.e. channel partners take on the branding of the parent company when selling the product of said company

Lets take an example. Hewlett Packard is a big manufacturer – They sell a LOT of computers and they also manufacture a lot as well. Sometimes, they over manufacture anticipating higher sales figures but these do not materialize so they have spare stock that they need to shift. They need independent companies to take up their additional stock and shift it. Which is where Channel partners, distributors and resellers come in.

A Channel Partner is a separate business from HP, an independent entity that has benefited from a close relationship with HP perhaps since inception. Their staff are often trained by HP to be proficient in solutions architecture with their kit, and their salesmen will know each type of product in and out. The Channel Partner will pay HP X amount per year to maintain this partnership, and as a result, will probably get a progressive discount on purchasing spare hardware from them and also get training and other bonuses from HP. There will probably also be a non-compete contract between HP and the Channel Partner so they don’t accidentally target the same customer. The advantage of being a Channel Partner is that the Channel Partner has essentially got the backing of HP, which looks very re-assuring to potential customers, especially those that already use HP kit but don’t want to deal directly with HP.

A distributor is an independent company that sells many different brands of a particular type of product. In the IT world a distributor may stock HP, Dell, Lenovo and ASUS products and everything from desktop computers and laptops to network switches, firewalls, printers and servers. They might get *some* discount from the main manufacturers but they won’t necessarily be partners as it favours their business model to be flexible with multiple vendors to suit their customers needs.

A reseller is literally just that. They purchase IT kit ad-hoc when special deals come up to get a low price and try and find a buyer to make money. They don’t have a special relationship with any manufacturer or distributor and are quite often very small companies. Don’t get me wrong there are large resellers which have been successful and now trade on reputation of being able to get low cost items for their customers.