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 is ADI Americas President Michael Flink 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?
Michael Flink: The hottest product categories right now include video surveillance, access control, and intrusion alarm systems that offer smartphone based control. In video surveillance, we are seeing bundled NVR solutions starting to replace DVRs. Also, high resolution video available at more competitive prices is stimulating growth. There has been an increase in video door entry access control systems across the education market. As school safety threats have heightened the need to implement systems that restrict access to unwanted visitors. Cost-effective home automation products are stimulating interest in intrusion. Solutions like Honeywell LYNX with Total Connect continue to gain popularity as they provide the ability to stay in control of the home remotely. Users like the capability to view the residential cameras connected to the home through their smartphone.
What are some products that were hot not that long ago but you can’t give away now?
Flink: Any DVR with under 500GB hard drives, we expect more to be 1TB shortly.
How are trends/technologies like IP, HD video, wireless, mobile connectivity, apps, integrated solutions, PSIM/VMS, mass notification, GUI keypads and cloud/interactive services impacting your business?
Flink: Shorter production cycles are requiring dealers to become more informed on the latest technology. ADI offers extensive training opportunities to help dealers stay up-to-date. With more than 1,500 training events per year, dealers can depend on ADI to educate them on the newest products. Our product management team focuses on staying on top of industry trends, and providing the best solutions to our customers. We’ve expanded our product catalog to over 800 pages to help dealers understand and install full systems.
What is a product area or market security dealers/integrators should focus more on and why?
Flink: The best opportunity available for dealers now is to focus on providing more to their existing customer base. End users typically focus on a single solution such as video surveillance or intrusion, dealers need to sell the whole integrated solution to be more successful.
How can security dealers/integrators combat margin squeeze and product commoditization?
Flink: To combat margin squeeze prevalent in the project business, ADI offers a project registration program to help dealers secure the best pricing and competitively bid on large installations. To help with product commoditization dealers need to understand the end user benefits in new technology categories and clearly communicate them to customers. ADI highlights new technologies in our monthly flyers, and provides dealers with information on end-user benefits.
What does your company do to help dealers/integrators manage inventory and timely delivery to customers? And how about some tips for these companies to effectively manage their inventory?
Flink: With 99 fully stocked branches and 9 warehouse locations across North America, ADI offers high in-stock inventory levels and enables dealers to carry little or no local inventory. Dealers can depend on ADI to have the products they need for their installations in stock every day. In addition, they can take advantage of the many delivery options available at ADI. They can choose to pick up their products in the branch during business hours, utilize our pick up anytime rooms, take advantage of our next day delivery service or have the items delivered directly to the jobsite. ADI offers project staging and job kitting services to help dealers streamline their installations to be more profitable. With these services, ADI works with the dealer to determine the products needed for each installation location, and set a timeline and schedule for delivery. ADI will then package all the shipments of products, and ensure they reach each jobsite at the correct time. This helps the dealer save on shipping and storage costs, and helps them run more efficiently.
How have dealer/integrator ordering habits evolved, for example online vs. in person, using apps, demos, volume?
Flink: We are seeing an increased need for broad variety of products to be delivered on one order. Dealers don’t want to spend time shopping around. More dealers are taking advantage of just in time delivery to get all the products they need when they need them, while improving cash flow.
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?
Flink: ADI supports the dealer and integrator market, and does not sell to end users. Manufacturers selling directly to end users have become less of an issue as they are realizing the cost involved with extending credit. Today’s customers are demanding more manufacturers transition from a direct sales model to distributors.
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?
Flink: We have made a huge investment in our ADI University to train our sales staff on the latest technologies. Each member on our sales team participates in weekly training courses on a wide variety of product categories. We have received great feedback from this training, and more and more dealers are using ADI’s sales force as a resource to the latest technologies, and for help with product selection. We continue to conduct customer surveys on a regular basis to look for opportunities to improve and better serve our dealers.
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?
Flink: ADI offers the broadest geographic coverage in the industry with 99 fully stocked branch locations and nine warehouses across North America. With high stocking levels, ADI is prepared to handle small and large installations. ADI offers a flexible credit terms, and our project registration program helps secure competitive pricing. Dealers can stop by any of our local branches to get started at ADI.