In order to curb the further spread of COVID-19, many companies are sending employees into home office wherever possible. This not only demands a high degree of flexibility, but also the provision of required infrastructure. Solutions for digital co-working must be implemented, while devices and accessories have to be acquired. First and foremost this involves notebooks – but stock levels are continuously going down. The situation in the wholesale business is intensifying, which is shown by this exclusive analysis of current stock levels on the ITscope platform.

Notebooks in short supply: up until the end of January, the total stock level of notebooks listed on ITscope was relatively stable. By mid-February, however, a strong reduction in stock levels became apparent. Levels continued to fall until mid-March, and at this point in time the stock is almost zero.


Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked notebooks in Q1/2020, average total stock level per notebook

In Germany, the majority of the population is taking the coronavirus threat seriously and are adhering to the decisions of the Federal Government. ‘Stay at home’ is the current motto, with the aim being to reduce unnecessary social contacts down to a minimum. This does not only apply to leisure activities, with more and more companies now also shifting the daily work routine into the own homes, if possible.

This situation demands a high degree of flexibility from everyone, and many companies are overwhelmed with the provision of necessary equipment for home office activities. Notebooks are especially important, as well as monitors, smartphones or headsets, all of which have to be procured – this is not only associated with high costs, but also with setup effort.

Businesses that were not previously acquainted with (and equipped for) home office are particularly affected. On top of this, there is an additional challenge resulting in stock level bottlenecks: many manufacturers operate production sites in Asia, and the shutdown in China has had a significant impact on production and supply chains. Voices from the information and communication technology sector also confirm: “There are currently barely any goods on the market, when it comes to home office equipment”, according to Bernadette Jürs, Head of Sales at AXRO Bürokommunikation Distribution Import Export GmbH.

ITscope GmbH is the operator of the platform: with the B2B trading platform, system houses and IT resellers can significantly simplify their sales and IT procurement processes. Throughout Europe around 7,800 resellers and 370 distributors, with over 3 million IT products, are involved – the ideal basis for making forecasts about the availability of IT products.

The rising demand for home office equipment, particularly notebooks, is starting to show in the first preliminary figures for the Q1/2020 ITscope Market Barometer. As a result of this demand, several Lenovo notebooks (ThinkPad E590 (SKU: 20NB001AGE), ThinkPad L590 (SKU: 20Q7000XGE) and ThinkBook 15-IML (SKU: 20RW0043GE)), as well as the HP ProBook 450 G6 (SKU: 7DE95EA#ABD), are currently only available in very small quantities or even completely sold out. The Lenovo ThinkBook, for example, is no longer in stock with any of 370+ distributors on the ITscope platform. This is probably down to the fact that this powerful, and relatively inexpensive, device is perfectly suited for mobile working, and thus also for employees working in (temporarily imposed) home office.


Price/stock/status history for the Lenovo ThinkBook 15-IML (SKU: 20RW0043GE) from January to March 2020

The figures become particularly clear when looking at the development of stock levels over a longer time period. Since July 2019, despite seasonal fluctuations, stock levels have been largely stable before falling sharply in February and especially in March.

Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked notebooks from July 2019 to March 2020, average total stock level per notebook

Comparing this to PC systems (with the same analysis parameters), shows that these are still sufficiently in stock.

Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked PC systems from July 2019 to March 2020, average total stock level per PC system

Other products that are necessary for working in home office, such as headsets (shown in the figure below), monitors or webcams, are also showing stock level bottlenecks.

Evaluation of the top 100 most clicked headsets in Q1/2020, average total stock level per headset

Notebooks are also in great demand on the refurbished second-hand market: “[…] right now it is completely crazy because all companies are preparing for home office. I’ll be glad when we are back to normal day-to-day business”, is an opinion shared by many in the IT channel in light of the current situation.

Although these impressions aren’t necessarily very positive, as well as causing worry among companies that have to get extra hardware, there should be no reason for concern. The ITscope platform provides resellers the opportunity to find alternative devices: many notebooks are still available on the market, for example with different technical specifications or from other manufacturers or suppliers.

The ITscope platform is ideal for identifying quickly available suppliers, and allowing insight to be gained into the prices and stock levels of 370+ IT distributors, resulting in high market transparency.