February’s Business Issue of SSI features my article on what’s new with wholesale distribution (“Reeling in Resellers”) in which I interviewed representatives from a half-dozen of the industry’s leading distributors. Several of the participants went into much greater detail than the print piece allowed, so here are WYNIT Distribution Solutions Engineer Sean Freeman and Business Development Manager Angie Cason expounding on a number of trends affecting the channel.
What are your three hottest product categories right now? What are the top products in those categories? What is stimulating such interest in these categories, and those specific products as well?
Sean Freeman: Our key product categories are surveillance, access control and digital display. In surveillance, IP budget cameras with high resolution and wide field of view are selling well. These cameras are a good way to capture wide area surveillance, and the high resolution allows them to “replace” several standard narrow-view, low resolution cameras. These are very popular in the more price-conscious installations. In access control, it’s the IP-based systems. Everything is moving to the network and access control is not an exception. In digital displays, it’s interactive projectors and whiteboards. We have a very strong educational base, and interactive whiteboards continue to be a popular choice in the K-12 market.
What are some products that were hot not that long ago but you can’t give away now?
Angie Cason: I would say any particular product that has been replaced by smartphones. Standalone GPS units and digital cameras were huge movers for us, and while our suppliers have been very proactive at bringing exciting new features to the table, we can’t deny that the market has shrunk with the smartphone revolution. But in our security division we have not seen a sharp decline in any of the products that we carry.
What is a product area or market security dealers/integrators should focus more on and why?
Cason: We see digital signage having a lot of potential in the near future. A lot of end users are looking for ways to quickly get security information displayed “live” throughout their facilities so their personnel can make informed decisions instead of waiting for official direction. Anything that ties multiple systems together into a single consolidated point of management is growing in popularity as well. For example, Axis is bringing their new access control modules to the market now and we are excited to see how that develops, and Milestone just released a new access control module for their VMS software as well.
How do you build dealer/integrator relationships so they trust product recommendations and advice?
Cason: Our staff keeps up to date with industry certifications, and our support engineers are able to directly consult with integrators and their customers to help understand what is needed. We also have a demonstration facility in Greenville [S.C.] that is used to test new product, and this also helps us replicate the issues our customers run into in the field.
What does your company do to help dealers/integrators manage inventory and timely delivery to customers?
Cason: We stock warehouses in Memphis, Tenn., and Reno, Nev., so we can hit most of the continental U.S. within two business days. We also have a full team dedicated to monitoring and managing our stock levels based on customer and market trends.
What tools does your company deploy, for example online ordering and electronic-based management, to better serve your dealer/integrator customers?
Cason: We have a robust online ordering system and dedicated territory inside sales representatives to help our customers find the product they need. As we are a strategic unit of a larger distribution business we have access to a very solid logistics core—but we are still able to be nimble and creative with our customers so we can help them best grow their business.
What are the top challenges facing security distributors today? How is your company dealing with it?
Freeman: New product is being released rapidly, with more and more capabilities in each revision – it takes a significant amount of time investment to keep product knowledge relevant. I think a key requirement in this industry is to stay educated and stay up to date on the latest releases. If you want to keep your customers happy, it’s just as important to know the limitations of a product as it is to know the features. WYNIT is dealing with these challenges by working hand-in-hand with our suppliers on all product launches and by maintaining relevant certifications across our product markets.
Does your company ever sell direct to end users? Why or why not? How much of an issue is there with manufacturers circumventing the distribution channel?
Cason: We never sell direct to end users. This is not negotiable, we strongly believe in maintaining the channel and our suppliers support that.
How do you ensure your dealer/integrator-facing personnel deliver the best possible customer care and technical service/support? How do you keep your personnel adequately trained?
Cason: Each territory of the U.S. has a dedicated sales representative that is familiar with their accounts, so you can call in and talk to your representative whenever you need assistance. Our suppliers provide floor day trainings to our sales staff to keep everyone knowledgeable on the products that we carry. Our solutions engineers keep up to date with relevant certifications and work closely with our suppliers to ensure that we are delivering cohesive solutions. We also have a dedicated business development team that strives to partner with the best suppliers to enable us to offer comprehensive solutions to our customers.
What are the biggest reasons a security dealer/integrator should do business with your company vs. a competitor? What is the best way for a dealer/integrator to get started with your company?
Cason: We carry best-in-class products, we believe there is value in building solutions instead of just moving boxes, we believe in knowing as much as we can on each of our product lines, and we combine our industry knowledge with world-class distribution and logistics services. To set up an account, just give our inside team a call at (800) 999-9648. We have dedicated strategic account managers for each region of the U.S., so we can quickly get you in touch with the right person who understands the unique challenges of your territory.