The concept of the value added distributor (VAD) has been branded effectively meaningless by one of the term's most vocal advocates, self-styled SuperVAD Exclusive Networks.
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The company has spoken out after commissioning a survey of its reseller network across western Europe, which revealed that the community's perception of what constitutes value add services, as opposed to industry standard, has undergone a major shift.
This could be bad news for smaller VADs, according to Exclusive marketing boss Barrie Desmond, who said they risked losing their traditional USPs because resellers were demanding "exceptional" market knowledge and technical expertise, and anything less just won't suffice.
"It's no longer enough for even the larger distributors to rely purely on distribution efficiency anymore, because resellers are expecting high levels of logistics, service and commercial stability as standard," he said.
Resellers said that technical expertise ranked higher than marketing support and credit availability in terms of what makes a distributor more alluring. The ability to offer sales leads and pre- and post-sales support, meanwhile, were seen as must-haves.
As a result, 42% said that the term VAD was now redundant, with 39% saying the term still held true to at least part of its meaning. Just under 20% were undecided on the matter. Interestingly, 50% said that there was no reason why distributor size should have anything to do with the ability to operate as a value added player, which could be food for thought for broadliners.
Exclusive claims this shift in perception endorses its idea of the SuperVAD as the next evolution in the distribution world.
Said Desmond: "The most efficient and effective distribution model sits somewhere between the business efficiency of a large distributor and the more involved nature of a small value added provider, wrapped up with superior levels of technical competency, sales support, lead generation and local market knowledge."