I’ve been working in France now for going on 15 years and as an independent consultant for about the last 3. I don’t generally sell hardware and restrict my activities to consulting. But every once and a while, it’s sometime just easier for me to buy something for a client rather than wait on their internal purchasing processes.
Most recently, I’ve been asked to put together a clone of my mobile lab. To that end, I figured it would be useful to get an account with some of the local distributors so I can get a better price. In order to register if had to jump through a number of hoops, providing my national ID card, official incorporation papers and so on in order to get my account information by paper mail.
I did my initial price estimates based on the publicly available prices on amazon.fr and am now getting to the ordering stage. So off I go to do some good old fashioned comparison shopping for commodity components like barebones PCs, midrange switches, SSDs and memory.
After wasting many hours, I found only one item on the list that is less expensive at a distributor. Sillier yet, I can get free shipping on most stuff under the Amazon Prime account so even with the price difference, it’s often just easier to go with Amazon.
So my advice to anyone working in IT purchasing is to ditch your reseller or distributor for anything involving commodity components and just get a corporate credit card set up for these items for direct purchasing on Amazon. Keep your existing process for big ticket items that will also be purchased with some kind of associated installation and configuration service, but for anything coming from name brand commodity (Netgear, Crucial, Samsung, etc.) it’s almost certainly cheaper on Amazon.
Addendum: I’ve checked a few times for “enterprise” equipment on Amazon and been surprised to find just about everything I looked for at better prices than I’ve seen on project quotations.