Internet Drives Distribution to the Next Dimension

When it comes to surfing the World Wide Web for products, alarm dealers have hardly earned the title of The Big Kahuna. Most have stood along the shoreline and merely gazed at the swelling sea of vendor Web sites, while others have waded in just deep enough to test the waters and gather information on equipment. Relatively few have caught the tidal wave that is E-commerce.

However, there are strong indications that the tide is slowly turning.
As greater numbers of dealers become more Internet-savvy and suppliers’ Web sites proliferate and become more sophisticated, dealers will progressively make the transition to purchasing products over the ‘Net. “It’s very clear that the Internet, the Web and E-commerce are going to heavily influence the direction the electronic security industry takes,” contends Albert Janjigian of SecurityXpress.com in Boston. Janjigian is among a group who are at the forefront of creating sites facilitating business relationships between dealers and manufacturers and distributors.

Several industries have expediently integrated E-commerce into their operations, while security dealers have been as divided about buying equipment via the Internet as they have been about the controversial practice of mass-marketing alarm systems. Some security professionals are jumping at the chance to conduct business on the Web, trumpeting the medium’s far-reaching potential. Others are skeptical, clinging to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Most, however, fall somewhere in between, and it’s this group who will determine how swiftly the industry adapts to the new frontier of Internet-based distribution.

Internet Changes Lifestyles, Business Practices

Research by STAT Resources Inc. of Chestnut Hill, Mass., shows that 90 percent of security dealers use the Internet for business purposes, but mostly just for gathering information and corresponding via E-mail. A study by Security Sales finds that slightly more than one-quarter of dealers used the Internet to purchase products in 1999.
E-commerce, the exchanging of goods or services over the Internet, is the primary driving force behind the Web’s exploding importance as a business medium.

Innovative Dealers Take a Spin on the Web

The minority of dealers who have ordered products off the Web express general satisfaction with the experience. Their activities are helping shape the security industry of tomorrow.

The World Opens Up to On-line Buyers

One of E-commerce’s most revolutionary qualities is that it eliminates geographic boundaries, making transactions possible from one side of the globe to the other. This provides buyers with more choices than ever, and suppliers with the opportunity to reach a virtually unlimited client base.

Skeptics Not Sold on Early Supplier Sites

Several factors, including a lack of high-caliber distribution Web sites and industry fragmentation, have inhibited E-commerce from taking off as quickly in the security field as it has in several other major industries.

Vendors Will Have to School the Stragglers

A lot of dealers remain leery of making the jump to Internet ordering without being set up and trained for it. Convincing the last vestiges of technology-shy dealers to adopt E-commerce will likely be somewhat daunting. Be it via on-site instruction, video, CD-ROM or the Web, training figures to play a key role in helping them overcome their trepidation

Many Await Better Connections, Choices

If they haven’t yet at least experimented with buying goods on the Web, the majority of dealers plan on diving into it in the near future. Many are very eager and just waiting for certain events, such as greater Internet bandwidth, to take place.

Alarm Industry Aims for True Digital Marketplace

If the future of the security industry as a widespread practitioner of E-commerce is not yet here, it’s not very far off. While doing business face to face is not likely to go entirely by the wayside, it will diminish dramatically as time goes on. Analysts have stated that 2000 would go down in history as the year when business-to-business E-commerce began to skyrocket.

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