‘Indies are more resilient, diverse and adaptable than big chains’

Target Components’ marketing executive Scott Frankling argues that vendors and the channel should take greater notice of independent tech retailers.

With global brands fighting in a crowded marketplace, it’s easy to see the appeal of the big chains – a single point of contact, the opportunity to sell volume into one centralised location, combined marketing resources and huge footfall – everything just seems easier. Or, at least, it used to.

But with the rise of online marketplaces and 24/7 availability, reduced margins and high rental costs for stores, those same big chains can struggle. High-profile casualties are not uncommon and, when they go, brands are left unsupported and sales take a nosedive.

There is a healthy alternative. Small businesses make up 99 per cent of all UK businesses and, whilst major chains closed 1,147 shops last year, stats show that indie stores actually increased in number.

Indies are simply more resilient, diverse and adaptable. And there’s lots of them.

Our own ShopTalk consumer surveys show that shoppers actually prefer to buy from local indies and most value their expertise, trustworthiness and focus on customer service.

The challenge for vendors is how to tap into this market. But indie resellers are loyal to their chosen brands and individual outlets have less buying power than any of the big guys.

These challenges, if addressed properly, can actually be strengths.

True, a single indie doesn’t buy the volume of PC World. But, consider the sheer number of them and you soon make up the numbers.

Support those same resellers with marketing materials and you go from brand visibility in a single store, to visibility in multiple locations nationwide.

Indies stick with their brands for a reason – they’ve been tried and tested – so convincing them to change can be difficult. But if brands can prove that their products are better than competitors’, they add value, support their business and add to their reputation – then you will gain long-term brand loyalty.

Yes, it’s hard work; indies don’t want suppliers who just sell to them. They want people who support their business. But what better way to promote your brand than through a nationwide network of experts – the businesses consumers want to buy from and trust most?

At Target, we’ve always appreciated the value of the indie market. It makes up over half our business. It’s been the backbone of our growth and the reason we’ve enjoyed seven consecutive years of record sales. So it’s great to see signs the channel is moving towards more of an indie focus.

Whether this endures or not remains to be seen, but any move to support indies benefits the whole channel.

Ignore them at your peril.

Scott Frankling is marketing executive at Target Components.

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