A group of resellers for SAP's BusinessOne made the rounds last week to talk about how well the application is doing. But one message that registered was that the SAP VARs, like many other resellers, are increasingly loyal to one brand.

Vendors like loyalty. It means that they get the reseller's full attention and hopefully greater sales. It should mean greater knowledge of the product from a business that is specializing in one product.

What's really interesting about this group of SAP VARs is that otherwise, many of the resellers signing on for BusinessOne said they were enlisting to avoid having all their eggs in one basket--usually a Microsoft basket--although at least 1e has dropped Best Software products.

One VAR that added the SAP line to a line of products from Best and Microsoft Business Solutions noted that when he competed for a Great Plains job, he was up against five other Inner Circle VARs. Inner Circle members are the top one percent or so of the MBS channel. So it's surprising to see the decision to concentrate on SAP coming so quickly from the top BusinessOne resellers so early in the game.

The trend is for VARs to increasingly concentrate on one line. National reseller ePartners has dropped Best Software's MAS 500 line to concentrate exclusively on MBS products. Best itself has pricing options that reward resellers for increasing the number of Best products that they sell.

Whether to carry one product line or offer products from competing vendors is a dilemma, although it increasingly boils down whether to carry both Best and MBS accounting software. On one hand, carrying one product is easier to manage because firms don't need individual staffs for different lines. These applications are too complex for most consultants to handle more than one product. On the other hand, does anybody really want to be completely dependent on one supplier?

Compulsory loyalty hasn't worked. Epicor wrecked its channel when 2000 in it ordered resellers to drop competing products. Many left and it's just now getting things back together. However, whatever the merits of carrying multiple brands, it's clear that the trend if towards limiting the product line.

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