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SMEs get good deals at IT fairs
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 12:06

INFORMATION technology fairs in Singapore are becoming hunting grounds for more than just consumers buying new gadgets for personal use.

Increasingly, they are becoming the haunts for bargain hunters looking to buy electronic goods for their companies and businesses too.

This is due to a growing number of small businesses setting up here, Singaporeans becoming more technology-savvy and the recognition that IT fairs offer cost savings.

Printer and copier-machine maker Fuji Xerox told my paper that, in the past two years, it has seen an increase in the number of people at IT fairs buying its products - such as laser printers - for their companies.

In 2007, 14 per cent of the firm's IT fair customers were business buyers. This rose to 20 per cent last year.

This year, for the three consumer IT shows held so far, the proportion of business customers is already 30 per cent, said Ms Jolene Yeo, marketing manager for Singapore and Indochina operations at Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific.

Sitex, the fourth and last IT fair for the year here, begins on Thursday. More than 826,000 visitors are expected at the fourday event.

Ms Yeo said one reason for the buying trend is that more small- and medium-sized enterprises and home businesses are setting up shop in Singapore, thanks to government encouragement of entrepreneurship.

These companies are looking for the cheapest way to buy office equipment. IT fairs are ideal as SMEs do not tend to order products in large quantities like larger firms, so they have less bargaining power when it comes to calling for product quotations. So they have to turn to other avenues to cut costs.

Ms Yeo noted how, with consumers becoming more IT savvy, they are buying directly from IT fairs for office use, bypassing third-party firms that make product recommendations. "IT fairs make selection of products very easy because all the brands are there," she said.

Sitex is also seeing more businesses buying gadgets like notebooks, desktops, printers and liquid- crystal display TVs.

Mr Chandran Nair, deputy general manager of SingExhibitions that manages Sitex, noted that business consumers recognised that IT fairs can offer "value deals". For instance, he said visitors can enjoy bundle deals and freebies on major brands during such fairs.

In 2007, SingExhibitions saw about 38,000 people buying gadgets for their companies, up from 34,000 the year before. Technology firm Asus Technology saw 10 per cent more people buying its netbooks, notebooks and desktops for their businesses at IT fairs in the first half of this year, compared to a year ago. By the time of the Comex IT fair in September, this increase rose to 18 per cent, said Mr Bernard Wen, manager of account management from Asus.

IT consultant Ryan Yeow, 31, bought a $1,500 notebook for an SME at Comex.

"I bought the notebook at the fair with cost savings of a few hundred dollars," said Mr Yeow.

 

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