Big distributors and vendors can learn a lot from the likes of VIP, Target and BullGuard, argues PCR editor Dominic Sacco.
Yesterday distributor VIP Computers told PCR it would be handing out gaming packs worth £2,500 to indie PC retailers, on a sale or return basis, allowing them to sell premium-price PC products without the risk of being stuck with expensive stock.
Last week GfK stated that there are now 18,202 fewer electrical independent retailers across Western Europe than there were in 1998.
More than 18,000 independent stores have closed down in the past 17 years.
Let that sink in for a minute.
That’s more than 1,000 closures per year on average.
It got me thinking – yes the rise of online shopping was inevitable, and yes there is price and convenience to be had from the likes of Amazon and Ebuyer. But, no large tech retail chain can offer the knowledge, service and turnaround that your local PC store can.
When the power supply on my PC blew up a couple of years ago, I took it to my local PC shop, Computer World in Chelmsford, and they fitted a new one then and there for a very reasonable price.
I didn’t have to research online to find out which power supplies were best, I didn’t have to queue up to be served, I didn’t have to wait for the part to arrive and I didn’t have to fit it myself.
Do we really want to substitute that experience solely with online retailers and large multiples? I, for one, don’t. I want a market that is open, fair and has retailers of all shapes, sizes and specialisms operating within it.
Too long have the likes of Amazon and other major retailers been given better deals on bulk stock, exclusive access to products and special treatment by suppliers.
We all have a responsibility to remain fair to all players in order to help grow the market as a whole – and that means stop pricing out the smaller stores. We should be encouraging them – these are the guys that will personally recommend your product or service to Joe Bloggs, who walks into their store and may not have a clue about computers or how they work.
They always tell it like it is, too, which all of us at PCR really appreciate.
Of all the distributors in this market (and despite consolidation/Exertis acquisitions, there are still plenty of suppliers around), right now there are only a small few I can think of that really go the extra mile for their independent retail customers.
I’ve already mentioned VIP and the things it has done in the past, like boosting the channel with credit investment, and Target Components is well-known for its focus on advice and support over making money (check out its useful ShopTalk blogs here).
Execs like CK at Yoyotech and Miodrag Relic at Caseking are also passionate about building communities within the channel, and working more closely together to ensure we all grow and prosper as businesses.
I know that vendors such as BullGuard are much-loved by indies for their generous security software revenue share scheme.
Of course, buying and dealer services groups like Synaxon, Network Group and Brigantia do a lot for the trade in terms of providing support for dealers.
These are just a couple of examples – I’m sure there are many other disties and vendors out there going the extra mile for their indie PC retail customers. But more can still be done.
I want to see the bigger broadliners putting more of an emphasis on this sector, as well as the leading PC vendors.
Stop closing up the channel by choosing to sell your new and exciting products direct or with a small handful of etailers, and start showing some love to the indie retailers out there. They’re the real experts of this industry, and they deserve a little more respect.
If you're an indie and want to check out the latest products/services on the market, don't miss out PCR Boot Camp North event in Leeds on November 18th. It's free to attend, includes a conference and after-party, plus a free sound system for each attendee. Sign up here.
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