Distributor Roundtable: Execs on Trends, Contending With COVID

Wholesale distribution executives discuss the latest product trends and technologies, opportunities, market challenges, and programs available to assist security dealers and systems integrators.

Distributor Roundtable: Execs on Trends, Contending With COVID

For both dealer/integrator operations and their solutions deployments, the Cloud is becoming king. Wholesale distribution executives convey how their organizations have helped the channel keep pace amid a pandemic.

What product categories and/or markets should security dealers and integrators focus on more?

Aarnes: The smart home segment continues to grow and create new opportunities and I believe the security dealer is best positioned to win in this market. ADI offers numerous smart home and automation products, including video doorbells, thermostats, lighting controls and whole-house audio. These are easy add-on products that can offer RMR opportunities, and dealers should be including them in every installation. We’re also seeing a lot of opportunities across vertical markets like education, healthcare and commercial buildings. With the recent COVID-19 situation, we’ve been seeing a rise in installations in these markets and an uptick in products around, again, thermal imaging, contactless access control, intrusion and analytics.

Cranford: Dealers need to adapt to new technologies to develop additional RMR streams. Video monitoring, Cloud storage and IP health monitoring are great ways to add RMR.

What are the top challenges facing security distributors today? How is your company dealing with them?

Sorrentino: Suppliers continue to come up with more and more Cloud solutions and offerings but there is still a challenge in the reseller community to deploy and transact in this new model. Our goal is to continue to educate our partners on the different manners of deploying solutions and providing the solutions in the manner in which their end users want to consume them.

Aarnes: Technology is changing quickly and one challenge the whole industry faces is staying up-to-date with the latest technologies. Our ADI University program provides our sales team with comprehensive education on the newest products and market trends. Each member of our team participates in weekly training courses across a wide variety of categories, so they are prepared to support our customers. Another challenge is the ability to offer a consistent shopping experience across channels, namely in the digital space. We need to ensure the buying experience fits the customer’s business model, as more customers offer Cloud solutions, remote connectivity and service offerings.

Cranford: Finding team members that share our passion for the industry and want to work hard building relationships and having fun while doing it.

Crossland: With the industry moving beyond traditional alarm systems, dealers need to find other RMR sources. One way is through a modern access control system, like we offer with the ProdataKey platform. It’s simple to install and program, and dealers can offer service plans to go with it. Of course, many customers are also just looking to piece together a minimal system with a few door and window sensors, or maybe a Ring alarm. Dealers may not be able to make RMR on these devices but being able to install them for their customers is better than having nothing at all to offer.

ScanSource Networking and Security’s line card of industry-leading manufacturers includes Aruba Networks, Axis Communications, Brocade, Panasonic, Ruckus Wireless, and Ubiquiti. (Courtesy ScanSource)

How do you expect to see the role of security distributors evolve in the future?

Sorrentino: Just as we’ve seen within other facets of the channel, the security industry is undergoing change. Whether it’s recurring revenue models or the need for additional education and training, it’s crucial that security distributors stay on top of emerging trends and adapt appropriately. ScanSource has guided our partners along these transitions in the past, and we’re well-positioned to provide the expertise to help them continue to evolve with the industry.

Aarnes: Distributors need to continue to provide dealers with more services, both pre- and post-sales, as well as supply chain services. Distributors will need to deliver a consistent experience across shopping channels — like shopping online or picking up at the branch. ADI has invested in new website capabilities allowing for a better omnichannel experience. Customers can order from the digital branch and select our pick up anytime service to then retrieve the goods from a secure, contactless locker at one of our locations. As more categories and products move to an as-a-service offering, we’ll need to offer more convenient ordering solutions for Cloud-based products.

Crossland: Take the video quality of surveillance systems as an example; we’ve seen a big change in what is considered acceptable. And advances in resolution have provided security integrators with opportunities to upgrade their clients’ old analog systems — with their grainy footage — to the crisp video of an IP camera system. Access control systems have also evolved. Ten years ago, there were no Cloud-based systems and people weren’t using Bluetooth on their phones for authentication. So it’s not so much that traditional things like access control and burglar alarms will completely go away, but their form will change based on new technologies like AI and biometrics.

Cranford: There have been and will continue to be many changes. We see these changes primarily affecting the relationships dealers have had with their distributors in the past. For us nothing changes, we will continue to do business based on relationships built on good communication and the belief that a handshake, or maybe just a thumb’s up until the COVID cloud lifts, and someone’s word can be taken to the bank.

Blackwire offers phone and remote session support after hours and on weekends along with its plug-and-play preprogramming systems setup. (Courtesy Blackwire)

What are the top reasons a security dealer/integrator should do business with your company vs. a competitor?

Sorrentino: We can help partners win in the physical security space with our team of experts, our industry-leading suppliers and the right resources and programs to create profitable growth.

Cranford: Responsiveness along with honest straightforward communication in both good times and in challenging times. Our dealers know they can count on what we say whether it’s when we will have a quote back to them, when an order will ship or what we need to do to resolve a credit issue or challenge. We have a true passion for this industry and work very hard to maintain the relationships we build. We have a good time but are serious about our dealer’s success.

Aarnes: ADI enables our dealers and integrators to operate more efficiently and deliver reliable services. We offer thousands of products that are always in stock and available for order online, by phone or in the branch. And we provide fast shipping options and convenient order pickup, like our secure lockers that are accessible 24/7. ADI is dedicated to alleviating customers’ workload and installation hours, and we offer the support, services and training to help do so.

Crossland: Primarily because we are extremely easy to do business with. We’re knowledgeable about all of our products and offer outstanding technical support, competitive pricing, and a very intuitive website that makes it easy to order. And we used to be integrators ourselves, so we know what our customers go through and exactly how we can make their lives easier.

Keep reading to learn how distributors are meeting the COVID crisis head-on, as well as for a wholesale distributor directory…

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