Mahomed Cassim, Chief Executive Officer – Esquire Technologies
Esquire, the award-winning ICT distributor of digital lifestyle products, has announced it has launched a virtual reseller network (VRN) that is believed to be a world first - and will turn the traditional reseller model on its head.
This is according to CEO, Mahomed Cassim, who said the company has been beta testing the new VRN solution for the past year, with 80 resellers that will now be linking to its VRN. The company hopes to link 2 000 of its estimated 12 000 resellers by the end of next year. Development costs to date have topped R8 million.
Explaining the VRN solution further, Cassim said Esquire had effectively turned participating resellers into “multimillionaires overnight”, as the resellers have virtual access to the entire Esquire stockholding, which is updated directly to the reseller's Web site at regular intervals – often as frequently as every three minutes.
“Our software solution, run by e-commerce specialist ImproWEB – with whom we have an exclusive agreement – takes our stockholding and replicates it on the Web sites of participating resellers, thus giving them virtual access to our entire stockholding. When an end-user places an order with a reseller, the purchase request is seamlessly routed to our back-office system, which then automatically informs the courier company - which then fetches the items from our warehouse and dispatches it directly to the end-user. The beauty about this software solution is that its in-built intelligence allows it to detect the location of the end-user. If the end-user is in Cape Town, the courier company will, for instance, fetch the stock from Esquire's Cape Town branch and deliver it directly to the end-user in that region – hence saving a substantial amount of money in courier costs. The software, in other words, will automatically choose the shortest delivery route.
“Thanks to our VRN, our resellers don't have to hold any of their own stock as they are given what is essentially immediate access to our entire stockholding. This is really empowering our resellers, and enables them to compete head-on with larger resellers, including multinationals and franchise stores.”
Cassim said that as Esquire acquires new products, the system is automatically updated – and the participating reseller's Web sites are also updated with the additional products.
Each reseller, however, retains complete autonomy and is allowed to set his own pricing on products, and even change and add additional descriptions and product pictures, if desired.
“In terms of speedy stock updates, if we have access to an additional 500 notebooks, for instance, our system will automatically be updated and these 500 notebooks become available to our resellers within a few minutes. We have got these stock updates down to three minutes.”
The software solution developed by Esquire's strategic partner, ImproWEB – a leading e-commerce developer - took eight years to develop, prompting Cassim to say that his company enjoyed “an eight-year lead in the marketplace”.
“We believe this will revolutionise the local reseller market,” Cassim added.
He said the company has been beta testing the VRN with resellers for the past year to ensure there were “no bugs in the system”, and because the online market was “not truly mature a year ago”.
“But we certainly think that the online market is maturing rapidly now and that people are no longer adverse to buying online. The marketplace is ready of our VRN solution.”
Commenting further, Cassim said Esquire has also signed up with leading payment gateways, including Virtual Card Services, PayPal and Internet Express.