Agency Helps Sony Reach End Users

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In a break from the traditional direct relationship that the Internet offers, Nicholson NY is working on a Web site that supports the middlemen.

The site, being created for the computer components and peripheral group of Sony Corp., is aimed at helping the company communicate with end users without squeezing the distributors out of its sales network.

"The idea is to reach the end users and create a pull from the end users," said Gregg Fisher, account director.

The concept was created because Sony wanted to initiate a relationship with its end users but did not want to alienate its distributors and re-sellers in the process. The result is a site geared to attracting end users and re-sellers as visitors. While the site is sponsored by Sony's components and peripherals group, sales will be funneled to either distributors or re-sellers depending on what type of customer is purchasing online.

Although the group manufactures several categories of products, the Web site initially will focus on data-storage equipment, such as floppy disk drives and CD-ROMs.

The products often are sold through a three-step process to distributors, who sell to re-sellers who sell to the end users. However, distributors sometimes skip re-sellers when they sell the product to customers who make bulk purchases, and the company sometimes skips both steps when it sells the products to other manufacturers that incorporate Sony's products into their own products.

Visitors to the site will find detailed information on the various products, including product-selection guides and charts, and case studies on how products can be used. When customers are interested in a product, their queries are directed to the appropriate channel, and a representative of that channel will call them.

"By communicating directly with the end user, the company can capture a lot of information on what motivates the end user and can help support its distributors and re-sellers," Fisher said.

Also, re-sellers who visit the site will be able to access brochures on the benefits of selling Sony products and information on the products and the company's distributors.

Fisher said some products on the site cost around $2,000, but he did not know the price range of the products available The site is expected to launch in September. A URL address has yet to be determined, Fisher said.

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