Axis VP Fredrik Nilsson Gives Details on Taking Control of Canon Security Portfolio
Canon products will be aligned and sold through Axis’ two-tiered distribution channels, including six distributors in the United States and five in Canada.
As Axis Communications prepares to take control of its parent company’s portfolio of video surveillance cameras in North America on Oct. 1, Fredrik Nilsson wants installing security contractors to know the restructuring illustrates Canon’s pledge to sustain an enduring presence for Axis in the marketplace.
And lest there be any misperception over the restructuring of the two companies’ global sales and marketing units, Nilsson, who is vice president of Axis’ Americas unit, stresses that Axis has been given the lead role in controlling its destiny within Canon.
“There is less confusion about which product to buy and which technology is better. Now we have one salesperson who is not competing with someone else who can go out and say, ‘In this range, Axis has the product that would be the best benefit for you as an integrator or an end user,'” Nilsson explained. “‘And here are a couple of specific cameras from Canon because of their optics knowledge or low-light technology, they actually have an edge you should consider as well.'”
Dealers and integrators who previously purchased Canon products could very well notice a significant bump in support. Axis employs around 300 sales & marketing, technical, training and other staffers in North America – a much larger team than Canon employed here.
Another aspect installing security contractors will notice is Canon products will be aligned and sold through Axis’ two-tiered distribution channels, including six distributors in the United States and five in Canada. Axis will not offer analog cameras from Canon, only its IP-based equipment.
“Axis and Canon product lines will also be accessible to any reseller who so choses to participate in our Axis Channel Partner Program,” Nilsson said. “Hopefully that means making it a lot more accessible and more readily available for different kinds of projects.”
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Although Canon will no longer sell its own products in North American once its wares are added to the Axis price list, the firm will continue to offer tech support for the time being.
“They will help those customers out and they won’t keep them hanging. Gradually we would like the integrators and end users to reach out to our tech support here to manage all of the tech support, but that will take a couple of months for people to realize where to call,” Nilsson said. “Canon will still help them out for a while, but long-term it is all going to managed by Axis.”
I asked Nilsson if the restructuring of the sales and marketing units was in some way a reaction to combatting margin erosion precipitated by Hikvision and other Asia-based marketers. Not so much. He makes clear: “First of all, if you look at Canon’s presence they came in and started to focus on this market just a couple of years ago. And even though they invested a lot of money after they acquired Axis it was pretty clear that we were the much larger player and we had a much larger presence. It takes time to build that up. So, instead of trying to build that up in a second entity within a company, it’s better to pool all the resources into one entity and that entity is Axis selling both the Canon portfolio as well as Axis the portfolio.”
How does that relate to the price race to the bottom? If a company endeavors to be truly successful it will need to have some level of scalability. Axis taking control of Canon’s portfolio signals an attempt to be more scalable in the market – one salesforce addressing customers of both portfolios and being more efficient in the path out to the market.
When it comes to Canon and Axis in general, Nilsson said, the two companies share a similar philosophy in the North American market and elsewhere: They are not a cost leader. He emphasized a corporate culture that emphasizes selling on value, quality, training and long-term relationships. Still, he said, those pieces also need to be scalable and by pooling resources it is easier to be more efficient in the market.
“So to answer your question, is it a reaction to the race to the bottom? No. It is mostly good business practice of becoming more efficient in the market, service the customers better,” Nilsson said. “Cost pressure has been out there for the past couple of years and will continue to be there. We need to be smart about how we manage it.”
One final note, if you’ve scouted the ASIS 2016 exhibit show floor at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, you may have spotted Canon is slated to exhibit in booth #3325. That is no longer the case. Instead, they will use the space for partners meetings, Nilsson said.
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