IT resellers in various regions of Europe and Africa are confident about the future, with most expecting to perform better in 2024 than they did this year.

This is one of the findings from Context’s ChannelWatch survey, which found that 86,6% of resellers anticipate a better year ahead, with 11% expecting no change, and just 2,4% bracing themselves for a worse time.

In terms of what software solutions they are selling the most of, newer technologies are not prominent. Most resellers (26,2%) report that their best-selling lines are Operating System Software and Security Software.

Data Management Software and Office Applications Software follow, both at 21,1%.

Virtualisation Software and Database Management Software were selected as their bestsellers by 15,8% of resellers, with Network Management Software the top item for 10,5%.

There is a dead heat for Project Management Software, Graphics and Design Software, Developer Tools Software and Artificial Intelligence Software – all at 5,3%.

Sustainability is starting to enter resellers’ conversations with 42,5% of them saying customers sometimes ask about sustainability, 32,7% asking very often, 18,3% asking rarely, and 6,5% never asking about it.

Fortunately, distributors are coming to the party, with 51,9% of resellers saying they find it easy to get sustainability information from their distributors and 21,8% who find it very easy. This compared to 24% who say it’s hard and 2,2% who say it’s impossible.

For business-to-business (B2B) resellers, cloud is a major focus, with 54,5% of respondents planning to invest in the provision of cloud product and services over the next 12 months.

Healthy investment is set to take place in networking (44,2%) and security (40%).

Quite a way behind the big three investment areas as data centre solutions (29%), device-as-a-service (25,7%) and workplace optimisation (24,4%).

Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are surprisingly low down on the planned investment scale, with IoT at 18% and AI at 16,3%, followed by managed print services at 12,5%.

Fewer resellers are planning to invest in Refurbishing/Remarketing (5,9%), robotic process automation (5,7%), digital signage (4,2%) and 3D printing (2,9%).

In terms of business-to-consumer (B2C) activities, over the next 12 months, the overwhelming majority of resellers plan to invest in PCs (63,9%) and software (58,6%).

There will also be healthy investment in accessories (39,4% of resellers), hard drives/solid state drives (37,3%), components (37,3%) and printers (35,7%), with print consumables to receive investment from 29,7% of resellers.

On a more consumer front, resellers plan to invest in headsets (26,5%), smartphones (19,7%), gaming (18,9%), smart home (16,5%) and wearables (8,4%).

There is expected to be limited investment into 3D printing, with just 7,2% of resellers indicating to Context that this is an area of interest.

Finances are always an issue for resellers, and in 2023 the main challenge was exchange rate fluctuations (42,5% of resellers), followed by unpaid bills from customers (31,9%), difficulty in getting funds from vendors (28,1%), agreeing expended payment terms (18%), difficulty getting bank loans and credit (15%) and difficulty getting credit insurance (8,4%). Just 28,3% of resellers report that they don’t have any problems with financing.

The annual ChannelWatch Survey took place between 20 April and 7 July this year, polling 9 000 resellers in the Baltics, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Nordics, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

Context also asked South African resellers to select their top distributors across a number of categories.

Tarsus came up as the top overall distributor, also scooping the award for logistics; Mustek was named as the best distributor for audio-visual, retail and value-add; Rectron won accolades for customer service and innovation; First Distribution was tops in cloud and cybersecurity; and Pinnacle clinched the title for unified communications.