Distributor Roundtable : Distributors Deliver Full Package
More value-added services help dealers competeApril 2012 By Nancy Klosek
CE dealers of all types, from the local storefronts to the regional chains to the big boxes, continue to look to distributors to provide far more than assistance between themselves and vendors. This year, distributors are providing even more value-add to the functions they already perform as trainers, marketers and business counselors. We recently spoke with some of the industry's leading distributors, who to see how their roles have expanded and what they're doing to be even better partners.
Dealerscope: What are the most important things you're doing to help dealers fight the major competitve threats they face today?
Jack Halperin, Senior Vice President of Dealer Sales, Almo: At Almo, we consistently invest in our dealer services, logistics infrastructure and vendor relationships so we can provide tier-one brands that complement their stores' brand value proposition. We help them generate additional store traffic and we become the dealer's other warehouse.
Jeff Kussard, Director of Strategic Development, Capitol: For our part, we're working closely with our vendors to continually update and fine-tune training efforts, support materials and overall communication with our customers. In particular, heavy hitters like Panasonic and Toshiba, for example, are unceasingly supportive of our training programs, especially the Capitol Learning Institute.
Brian Swanke, President, CWR: We have continued to find niche markets for our dealers to sell into and make some healthy margin.
Jeff Davis, Senior Vice President of Sales, D&H: We've been encouraging our brick-and-mortar dealers to focus on consultative service and a knowledgeable sales staff to give their customers more incentive to physically come in. If knowledgeable personnel behave like technology consultants, consumers may seek them out for their expertise.
Doug Robison, president, DSI: Independent retailers, as a whole, have to prevent CE from becoming a commodity business. The way is to focus on products that allow step selling, and products and features that benefit the consumer, like connectivity and all the cool things we can do with a TV today. TVs today have to be installed and explained; that's where an independent can make their margin.
Brent McCarty, Vice President and General Manager, Ingram Micro CE: The first is bringing a broader portfolio of vendors so that our customers can identify areas where there is less competitive pressure. Second, Ingram Micro is putting tools in place that will significantly help our dealers build a competitive dot-com site. Our dealers' competitive advantage, in this case, is having a dot-com presence, as well as a brick-and-mortar presence. Finally, we are communicating the concerns of the dealers to our vendors and helping them understand ways in which they can tighten controls of Internet pricing, and why it is important. Dealers require a healthy margin in order to make a commitment to sell our vendors' products. If that margin erodes through dot-com transparency, the dealers will focus on other areas. Ingram has many solutions to help enable the vendors to improve controls, and we're trying to gain their support.