Maverick comments on AV channel trends

Jon Sidwick, vice president of Maverick Europe, says its business as usual for AV distributors and bats off suggestions that more manufacturers will go direct and exclusive distribution deals are set to wane. He talks to Tim Kridel.

TK: Will vendors do (or are they doing) more direct sales? If so, why? And how could/should AV integrators and other resellers respond to that change? 

JS: As a general trend, we are seeing less inclination from our vendors to bypass any element of the channel. As the market broadens, our partners are even more reliant on the roles delivered by resellers and distributors. We do see some who are putting more focus on direct touch with blue chip users, but business and final sales are still being generated by and pulled through from the channel, as installation expertise is required to deliver the solution.

TK: Are exclusive distribution deals becoming less common? 

JS: Exclusivity has an important role to play still in the early investment stages in terms of creating a demand for new products within the channel. This can continue further where a distributor and the vendor jointly invest in resource levels. At Maverick we have some excellent recent success stories in this space, in particular where IT-led manufacturers or products look to expand into the AV space. Exclusivity allows manufacturers and vendors to take advantage of the vast pool of resources and relationships that distributors have, while also allowing companies like Maverick to broaden their expertise across more markets than ever, letting us give customers the most cutting-edge and competitive solutions.

TK: What are some successful resellers and distributors? Why are they successful? What can their peers learn from their strategies?

JS: We are seeing that the most successful resellers are those who embrace change. This ‘culture of change’ can come from various tactics, from ensuring new skills are embedded in the business through to training and recruitment programmes. It’s now essential that AV resellers can engage with all aspects of the solution from pure AV requirements to IT integration.

We are also seeing many partnerships emerge, where rather than competing against IT resellers, AV companies are competing with a partner to win and deliver end to end AV/IT solutions. In the distribution sector, I would of course point to the success Maverick has had recently. For us the combination of scale, specialist touches and multi-technology engagement delivers the channel a wide range of required support services and products.

TK: AV vendors are increasingly designing many of their products to be plug and play. Doesn’t this trend mean vendors will require even fewer resellers? 

JS: Actually this trend means the exact opposite. As products become easier to integrate and deploy, the routes to market and business opportunities increase. We are seeing a dramatic channel expansion based on product accessibility and ease of installation, which means more opportunities than ever for resellers to provide ever more innovative solutions.

TK: Will these trends mean more integrator and distributor mergers, acquisitions and closures? 

JS: There is strong pressure on businesses, in particular with niche distribution and more so in smaller countries. Traditionally specialist distribution has to work hard to earn their margin and balancing this with market volume requirements has always been a challenge. However, as the market is enjoying such strong growth at the moment and looks to be expanding rapidly, there will be an accelerated volume shift to multi-technology distribution companies who can deliver specialist touch as well as handle high volume. We are seeing the combination of core AV brands, new IT entrants and the capability to deliver high levels of stock and credit being a strong market position.

Excerpts from Tim Kridel’s Q&A with Jon Sidwick will be published in a wider article on the topic in the September edition of InAVate EMEA when not everyone is a positive about the continuing role of the AV distributor.

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More Q&As in the series:
Sam Taylor, Almo Professional A/V
Harald Steindl, HST Consulting

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