July 15, 2014, 12:52 PM

Tech Data Corp. launches an e-commerce site for small and midsized businesses

Already generating more than $2 billion in annual web sales, the electronics distributor is looking to expand with the new SMB.TechData.com.

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Tech Data Corp. has launched a new tool designed to boost its web sales from both new and existing customers: an e-commerce site built for small and midsized businesses, SMB.TechData.com.

“We wanted a much different experience with the SMB market,” says Phil Filippelli, vice president, e-business.  “So we said, ‘let’s come up with a web experience tailored to their needs, without forcing content down their throats.’”

At first glance, the home page of SMB.TechData.com looks far more like a public-facing e-commerce site than its older counterpart, TechData.com, which is designed as a login-only site for corporate purchasing managers. Any visitor to the new SMB.TechData.com can browse among the company’s more than 1 million products ranging from Internet routers and network servers for Internet-based data storage, to digital cameras and handheld mobile devices for accessing corporate data. General visitors can also view for each listed product concise descriptions and images along with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Clicking into one of the products on the SMB site, however, requires a visitor to log in with an account number to view more details, including the wholesale pricing negotiated for that account. Tech Data builds its own web sites, using Microsoft Corp.’s .Net technology, with the web markup language HTML 5 for web page formats and Cascading Style Sheets for attributes like web page colors and fonts. It also uses Oracle Corp.’s Endeca site search engine, and back-end order management and inventory management from SAP AG.

Tech Data launched the SMB site in March in a test with about 2,000 resellers, including small and midsize technology consulting firms that sell and often install technology products and networking systems for businesses. This week it made the site commercially available. It expects the new site to help Tech Data attract 40,000 or more new customers, Filippelli says. “This is a big market opportunity for us, and to do this through the web must make us more efficient,” he says.

Among the special features SMB.TechData.com offers registered customers is the ability to modify the design of the site’s home page. Once logged on, customers can click a special customizing section to add or delete content such as category listings, making it easier for them to view and purchase their most frequently purchased products.

The customizing feature also lets customers import content on Tech Data’s products onto their own corporate sites, making it easier, for example, for authorized groups of buyers to access particular product sections on SMB.TechData.com. Customers can also do the reverse, and import content from their corporate sites, such as lists of needed inventory, and merge it into an order management dashboard on SMB.TechData.com. “This is the start of a platform-as-as-service by Tech Data,” Filippelli says. “We want to let customers integrate their system into our system.”

So far, the SMB.TechData.com is showing shopping cart conversion rates of about 11%, compared with a B2B industry average of 6% to 7%, Filippelli says.

Tech Data reported $26.82 billion in total sales for its fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2014. About half of that, or $13.41 billion, is transacted electronically, including through electronic data interchange and web transactions. Of the $13.41 billion, about 20%, or $2.68 billion is booked through the web—a percentage the company expects to increase through the growth of SMB.TechData.com, Filippelli says.

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