Do value added distributors still have a place in today’s AV market place?

Many years ago distribution was vital to AV. With a main focus around projectors, these were beasts that had to be demonstrated.  Integrators needed help and advice to convince their customers to part with £000s for a 500 ANSI lumen image only properly visible in a darkened room.

Times change and today the channel is informed and knowledgeable about aspects such as networking and collaboration.  And educated users are comfortable ordering the basics from a website – no-one needs to see a projector demonstrated or be trained on how to connect it up.

Distribution has changed too, with many traditional distributors now operating a similar model to IT broad-liners, with a focus on multiple SKUs and slick logistics.  So have distributors been reduced to merely providing warehousing, transport and credit lines?

I believe not.  There is a place for both specialist and broad-line distributors. While broad-line may have the economies of scale, specialist distributors are more flexible to customers’ needs.

And as the limits of AV stretch way beyond what could have been imagined 20 years ago, this becomes more important.  What if your customer wants a 12m curved projection screen?  They can’t order that off the shelf.  A specialist distributor can advise on options, then drop-ship, attend site to give expert advice, aid with installation and provide after-sales care. Or they want to projection map onto a church?  Would you feel confident to advise them on the best equipment and software to achieve the results they hope for?

A broad-line distributor may have a price advantage with standard off-the-shelf products where they are selling volume, but can they service your equipment down to component level?  Can they tailor a warranty for your particular needs? And will they come to your site to run a training course for your team?

As this industry of ours becomes ever more complex I’d argue there is a greater need than ever for the specialist distributor who can build business for vendors based on strong customer relationships and high levels of technical knowledge – which is good news for AVM as that is exactly what we strive to do!

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