Timely delivery and assistance with inventory management is one of the fundamental and most important aspects of the wholesale distributor’s role. This has become even more critical over time, with economic and competitive agents elevating the need to reduce items gathering dust in dealer/integrator stockrooms while still serving end users without delays.
“We serve as their warehouse,” says Comunale. “Years ago, we set out to have locations in major marketplaces so we could get equipment to our dealers quickly and easily. They use the Tri-Ed infrastructure so they don’t have to carry the inventory. We have it when they need it, where they need it.”
Powers conveys a similar outlook. “Carrying inventory is costly, upwards of 2% of the value per month,” he says. “Via eAnixter, you can see real-time inventory throughout our network. We can also create a vendor-managed inventory program to help minimize the effort and cost of maintaining that service level. Anixter has more than $1 billion in inventory; we’re likely to have stock or the products needed so a dealer doesn’t have to live with long manufacturer lead times.”
Partnering for Greater Success
Striking a partnership to maximize success and profitability in today’s challenging business climate is predicated upon forging a relationship built on trust. This is not lost on wholesale security distributors that realize how essential it is for their dealer/integrator customers be able to turn to them for advice and counseling, be it technical or business related, as well as unbiased and expert product recommendations.
ADI is a large, high-volume supplier that has spent more than 25 years cultivating such confidence.
“Dealers rely on us to provide them with the products, training and support they need to win more business,” says Flink. “Every day dealers reach out to our Systems Sales & Support team, which fields more than 1,000 daily calls, for assistance with product selection and system design. Through ADI University, we train our sales staff on the latest technologies. Our team participates in weekly training courses to equip them with the knowledge to assist with all presales efforts and serve as a reliable resource.”
Taking a less conventional approach to that of most wholesale distributors is PSA Security Network, which is an integrator-owned cooperative.
“Our sole purpose is to serve our owners and customers and help to make them more profitable and successful. So the trust factor is built in as we make business decisions that benefit our owners,” says PSA Security Network Vice President, Sales and Customer Service, Ric McCullough. “Our owners and customers know we will never, ever sell directly to their end users and the business decisions we make are centered on their needs. As a virtual distributor, PSA Security doesn’t have the need to promote or move stagnant inventory or house brands.”
That comment speaks to one of the pillars of trust in the distributor-dealer relationship: maintaining the integrity of the chain where the reseller does not have to be concerned the supplier is going to “go behind its back” by selling directly to the end customer. In an era when so many products can be accessed online with the click of a mouse and a credit card, this has become a hot-button issue.
“ScanSource Security never sells to end users. In fact, it is a fireable offense if an employee knowingly does so,” says Sorrentino. “We will never compete with our reseller partners, as we believe it is so important for our reseller and dealer partners to see us as an extension of their business, a true partner, one they can feel comfortable providing important details with about their company so that we can work together to deliver the best products, services and support.”
Superior Services on Your Side
One of the top challenges faced by everyone in the supply chain is commoditization and margin squeeze. This pushes supplier and reseller alike to sharpen their value proposition and optimize their level of service. Wholesale distributors help fulfill that on their end by directing dealers and integrators on how to accomplish same relative to their customers.
“We all fight against the low cost of camera bundles at bigbox retailers, but an enterprise camera system is not going to be sold on price,” says WYNIT Distribution Business Development Manager Angie Cason. “Educate customers on why they need a camera with WDR and a true ICR filter, or why it’s beneficial to have RAID configured for their long-term footage storage. Help them build a custom system to address their specific security challenges, not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ stock system.”
A final quality is the imperative for wholesale distributors to render the best possible service before, during and especially after the sale. Anything less can not only cause a dealer/integrator aggravation but much worse complications on a jobsite, losing a customer and even failure of the business altogether. “Our security integrator customers are assigned an inside and an outside sales representative to their account. This team coordinates the business and technical resources needed to support the integrator’s day-to-day and project business with Anixter,” says Powers. “These teams also receive ongoing business, operational and technical training so they can be prepared for new situations and offer solutions to their integrator customers. They are supported by supply chain, network technology and security subject matter experts who also receive the latest training in their specialty areas.”
Support services can run the gamut. But one that came to the forefront during the recession, and has continued to remain prominent, is extending credit and offering attractive financing options. “In today’s marketing, one challenge for security distributors is the ability to provide integrators with credit,” says Flink. “With ADI’s flexible credit terms, dealers can increase their overall cash flow ... which gives them the potential to go after more business.” Wholesale security distributors are in the same boat as their dealer/integrator customers in having to navigate a more unforgiving business environment while keeping up with head-spinning technology leaps and the onslaught of product introductions. Those in it to win it welcome these challenges.
“The biggest challenge is the rapid change in technology,” says Comunale. “For years, the industry would come out with a handful of new products. Today, they not only change rapidly, but manufacturers are updating them every six months or so. We need to stay ahead of the curve and keep our staff trained to stay ahead of the competition. Tri-Ed’s philosophy from Day One has been to support the dealer/integrator network.”
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PSA Security Network