Ingram Micro Goes Mobile With New Portal

Distributor simplifies customer activations for VARs and channel partners selling mobile devices to help them build a revenue stream for mobile services and support.

December 8, 2008

Al Senia

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Distributor Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) has established a new online portal designed to help channel partners build a revenue stream in mobile computing by providing wireless activations as part of their mobile solutions portfolio. The portal can be used for such mobile devices as embedded notebooks, wireless routers, wireless modems and wireless phones and personal devices.

The portal, called Ignition, is free to Ingram Micro channel partners. It makes it easier for them to activate for their business customers services from wireless providers Sprint, AT&T and soon, Verizon Wireless. The portal also is useful to manage transactions and  track commissions.

Many Wireless Carriers, One Portal

"We want to make it simple and easy to activate certified wireless devices," said Bob Garry, director of wireless marketing, Ingram Micro U.S. "It's a unified approach to have our partners activate all wireless carriers using just one source."

Centralizing and streamlining the activation process through Ingition provides Ingram Micro's channel partners a competitive sales advantage and introduces a high-value revenue stream, especially for so-called "non-stock devices" like embedded computers, added Garry. There is also follow-up margin opportunity in application development and service and support.

On the other hand, Garry noted,  margins are lower for devices like smartphones and PDAs because the carriers typically stock these items themselves and don't ship them to channel partners through distributors. However, VARs still could make a small margin on the activation service available through the portal if they sell such devices.

"The wireless market is growing and it is changing," said Garry. "It is not a hardware-sale opportunity so much as it is selling the application development and the software and support services."

Reseller margins are higher on such "non-stock" mobile devices because the wireless carriers don't typically provide them as standalone devices and depend on channel partners to add-on the wireless service to the specific hardware device they are selling.

One Ingram channel partner, MobileTek, Farmingdale, N.J., has been successful using the new Ignition portal. "What’s great about Ignition is that we’re making incremental margin on the wireless products we already sell,” says Laura Voll, support specialist, MobileTek. "Ignition allows us to activate the technology on behalf of the customer remotely at any time.

Garry said VARs can also use the portal to deploy a customized portal for enterprise customers who want to activate wireless products as soon as they receive them. That helps with broad field deployments that could be expensive or difficult for the VARs to provide on their own.

Garry believes hundreds of Ingram partners will sign up for the new portal service.

(Al Senia is managing editor of ITChannelPlanet.com)

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TAGS: wireless,mobile,smartphones,carriers,Ingram

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