Roundtable: Leading Wholesale Distributors Discuss Winning Strategies, Latest Products
Several of the industry’s leading distributors offer takes on the latest products and opportunities, technological and market challenges, and updates on the goods and services they offer.
Wholesale distribution plays a pivotal part in the security channel. As the breadth and scope of the industry continues to expand, so does the role of the wholesale distributor. While distribution partners are counted on to provide comprehensive product offerings across all technology categories, they’re also tasked with delivering myriad other goods and services.
The list is long and spans technical trainings and support, system design services, fast and easy product acquisition, same-day and to-the-jobsite shipping, flexible credit terms, managing brick and mortar and/or ecommerce operations services, vetting new products, inventory management, and much more.
In essence, providing a superior value proposition to dealer and integrator customers is just as important for a distributor as is providing the products they need.
Being a true partner also means continuing to hold the line in selling exclusively to resellers and not fracturing the channel by allowing end users to buy direct.
SSI checked in with several of the industry’s leading distributors that subscribe to those tenets. Taking part in this wholesale distributor roundtable to field questions were: Tracey Boucher, vice president, supplier services, ScanSource; Mike Burrell, vice president of sales and marketing, The Systems Depot; Dave McClary, physical security category strategist, security business unit, Ingram Micro; and Sal LoSchiavo, vice president of sales, networking & security solutions, Jenne.
They offer takes on the latest products and opportunities, technological and market challenges, and updates on the goods and services they have at the ready to assist today’s security dealers and systems integrators. A listing of select wholesale distributors follows the discussion.
How do you build dealer/integrator relationships so they trust product recommendations and advice?
TRACEY BOUCHER: We invest heavily in making sure that we are trusted advisors to our partners. Our team goes through extensive training to ensure that we know the technology inside and out, and we pass that knowledge along to our partners via trainings, seminars and resources. We believe that the more resources we can offer, the more successful our partners will be.
MIKE BURRELL: We train and educate our sales staff thoroughly on our vendors and their key products. Our clients appreciate that fact that we also have account reps and technical reps that have experience installing those products. This is key in building trust. We also utilize our strong relationships with our vendors and pull them in when we are providing a client on a new product line or venture.
SAL LoSCHIAVO: We keep it simple. At Jenne, we apply a very basic model in building long-term relationships. We build credibility by providing a high-touch, fast-response level of service. We emphasize relationship development and partnership based on integrity and honesty. Equally important, we have trained and knowledgeable video security team members who know the business and provide immediate value.
Which product categories and technologies are hottest right now?
BURRELL: Within our customer base, it’s surveillance, access control and interactive security. These product categories are making advancements and improvements at an impressive rate. What are the top products in these categories? Products that produce an RMR stream have always been a focus of our clients. With the recent advancements from video AI to interactive doorbells, the dealers are able to secure additional RMR streams by utilizing these new innovations.
LoSCHIAVO: The top three are analytics, VaaS/SaaS and cybersecurity. Analytics is being stimulated by the end user’s need for actionable video and data. So they don’t have to spend days looking through video for specific past events, items, people, LPR issues and many other things that drive their business at an abundant man-hour cost. Public safety situations like mass shooters and bombings are driving analytics to be better, and to produce more actionable data.
It also is being driven by the end user who wants to be able to make money on their investment with heat mapping and actionable data they can sell to their management. As for VaaS/SaaS, the [lower] upfront cost to the end user is driving it and the way technology turns out new products so quickly. The compression ability of H.265 and smart codecs are driving down the demand on bandwidth, which makes it a much more feasible solution these days with a T1 line.
DAVE McCLARY: The bestselling products are highly versatile, mini dome IP cameras with varifocal lenses, indoor/outdoor and low light capabilities. On the access control side, we see strong volume and continued growth from credentials and card readers, which are common to nearly all physical access control systems. Inventory planning and anticipation of customer demand is critical with those high sales volume products.
From a technology standpoint, hosted solutions are on the rise, reflecting an evolution in some customers’ preferred mode of consumption. There’s a lot of excitement about AI video analytics responding to demands for situational awareness and actionable information. But video is not the only technology capable of contributing. We’re seeing high levels of interest in multitechnology surveillance devices that monitor invisible conditions like sound, air quality and the presence of gases. Meanwhile, Bluetooth technology is enabling cost-effective implementation of real-time location services for assets and personnel.
Which product categories and/or markets should security dealers and integrators focus on more and why?
LoSCHIAVO: Wired and wireless networking; it is typically not the cameras that fail but the network the cameras are running on. As we deploy more 4K, run additional analytics and enhance remote access, the security integrator must understand and ensure smooth traffic across the customer’s network and adequate storage capabilities.
Also, as I mentioned prior, VaaS/SaaS. With end users being more price conscious, VaaS/SaaS is a great option for the largest part of the market, those with fewer than 64 cameras. These clients have budget constraints and have to do more with less daily. This approach is very compelling if you can offer a solution that meets the end user’s needs at a fraction of the upfront cost, coupled with elimination of stored video management.
BURRELL: When I started in the industry, it was mainly focused around security. It appears that the focus has shifted to providing the client with data. With the advancements in personal technology today we have access to data that we didn’t 10 years ago. Users are now looking for this in all aspects of the systems they interact with. Dealers that provide this level of information to their clients are the ones that are seeing the fastest growth.
McCLARY: The need for physical security managed services represents a growth opportunity and potential relief from commoditization cost pressures. End users can drive most of the profit out of a competitive bid to provide and install the system. But if maintaining the system is treated as a contractual obligation, rather than a way to differentiate from the competition, then dissatisfaction is likely.
Most end users need help managing their security systems, keeping them current and functioning optimally. They need to be aware of potential system failures, in advance, and they need to be educated about new features and firmware releases. Integrators who can fill that gap can generate a recurring revenue stream and increase customer dependency.
What value-added services does your company offer the channel?
McCLARY: Partner technical enablement is a fundamental value proposition for Ingram Micro. For our reseller customers, we offer a range of technical and market training services, as well as professional design and deployment services. In the physical security market, we’re supporting security integrators with access to IT products and expertise, while we support IT resellers with pre- and post-sales professional services. In many cases, we facilitate project collaborations between traditional integrators and IT resellers. The intent is to enable Ingram customers to expand their existing end-user relationships into new products and services, including technologies and geographies outside their core business.
BURRELL: Flexibility; we are a privately owned company that can make decisions and exceptions in a timely manner. We are able to work closely with our dealer partners to help them quote and secure business that may outside of their comfort zone. We achieve this by offer consulting from the design process all the way to determine how to finance the project. We want our dealers to be successful as it is key to our success.
LoSCHIAVO: Jenne offers training and education through Jenne University. Certification courses are offered onsite as well as at locations throughout the country. Jenne also offers numerous webinars in partnership with industry-leading manufacturers whose products we distribute. Security camera staging is also offered to ensure that all preliminary configurations, licensing and labeling have been completed for product shipments, which enables resellers and integrators to rapidly install systems on their customers’ networks, or as a standalone unit to help save programming time and resources upon delivery. We can configure camera IP addresses, and populate spreadsheets; apply a name to the camera; label shipping boxes with appropriate locations; assign passwords to cameras; and also perform other custom programming.
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