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.
What does your company do to help dealers/integrators manage inventory and timely delivery to customers?
BOUCHER: ScanSource’s centralized warehouse — strategically located in Southaven, Miss., only minutes from the FedEx hub in Memphis, Tenn. — is invaluable when it comes to managing inventory and ensuring timely deliveries. We also have the added benefit of being a stocking distributor for our suppliers, virtually eliminating the need for drop shipping and expediting the process. Additionally, through our Custom Configuration Center, products can be shipped ready to install. Whether it’s loading software and upgrades, printing custom labels or fulfilling custom jobs, our skilled technical team ensures that our partners are able to use their resources most effectively.
BURRELL: We offer a custom delivery service in select markets, called Depot Express. This is a key factor in helping a dealer receive timely deliveries and manage their inventory needs. One of the biggest issues dealers face is defective equipment. We pride ourselves on having a customer care department that works for the dealer in finding the best solution to resolve the dealer’s product issues.
Depot Express service allows the dealer to easily return defective items without the need to UPS it or drive it to a branch. Every client I have met with has a box of defective equipment somewhere collecting dust, in a lot of cases these items are still under warranty. Not addressing them is just money going to waste. It is our goal to provide the dealer an easy way to remedy this.
LoSCHIAVO: This has become a very tricky area to manage as even more manufacturers are closely monitoring and adjusting their inventory to prevent slow-moving product. Many are managing their on-hand stock to less than 45 days. Integrators have become less likely to inventory and look to the distributor to handle this for them. Being in the middle of these trends requires the distributor to communicate with integrators at a high and consistent level.
We must have line of sight on all projects well in advance and take in the inventory in advance to ensure timely delivery and ensure end-user satisfaction. We understand that this presents risk. However, as a value-added distributor, we must work very closely with the dealer/integrator on projects so we can ensure timely install and complete end-user satisfaction.
What tools does your company offer to better serve your dealer/integrator customer?
LoSCHIAVO: We offer numerous tools and support to best serve our resellers, dealers and integrators, including: web-based resources available 24/7; ability to view live inventory online and receive automated reports on request; a wide array of ordering capabilities online; resellers can view and track quotes; access is available to all the manufacturers’ product promotions; presales support that can enhance revenue opportunities, include generating a quote based on a blueprint provided; providing a quote based on an aerial view of the building; assistance with determining the optimal number of cameras needed; integration with other technologies where applicable; and system demonstration capabilities.
BURRELL: We offer free system design and free industry consulting to help dealers better determine what products or services best fit their business model. We’ve put a great deal of focus on improving our website to have a great deal of product information because we understand the value it is to clients who utilize it. We have even set up an option for clients to send a text message to our reps for pricing and product inquiries. This greatly speeds up the communications when the dealers are on a jobsite.
How do you differ from your competitors?
BURRELL: We are privately owned and at a size that allows us to be very flexible and accommodating to our clients to provide them with a personal customer experience. This could be making a special delivery with our Depot Express service or stocking that special part that they use regularly. Being able to accommodate these requests is what I feel allows us to be a different than a lot of our competition.
BOUCHER: It is within ScanSource’s DNA to position our partners with the solutions they need to fulfill their customers’ demands. We’re invested in our partners’ success and view our relationship as a true partnership. This mindset, coupled with our Custom Configuration Center, centralized distribution model, unparalleled customer service and ability to provide complete solutions set us apart.
LoSCHIAVO: Jenne is a privately owned and operated business and, as a result, very focused on our customer relationships. We have been viewed as partners by both our vendors and our customers over our 33 years in business. We deliver world-class service with personal care. Jenne’s business philosophy and makeup are cut from the same cloth of the security dealers/integrators we serve. We’re selective in vendor line partners with a targeted vendor selection versus a broad line or shotgun approach. And we focus on partnering with vendors who appreciate Jenne’s culture and value-added approach.
Do you expect the security distributor’s role to change/evolve and, if so, how?
BURRELL: Yes, distribution has already begun the evolution process. When I started in the industry years ago it was unheard of to login to website and place an order to product. If you didn’t have a hard copy catalog from a distributor then you didn’t buy from them. The Internet has changed distribution and the companies that can evolve to utilize it will be the ones that will be around in the future.
LoSCHIAVO: Yes! The role of security distributors is evolving. As technologies, channel strategies and the business models evolve, we will adapt to them and find ways to deliver significant value and continue to deliver value to our customers and vendor partners.
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