Where the market leaders have many brands filling any number of requirements, there are other distributors who have purposely pinned their flags to a very limited number of masts
The established security distribution channel is being disrupted by a new trend towards
specialist distributors – who offer more a more focused range of products and
support services

In the last 10 years a lot has changed within UK security distribution, but on the surface everything would appear to be the same.

The top two distributors remain the same, despite creditors at one and talk of a looming sale at another. However, they’re operating with a slightly reduced market dominance. Along with these, there are a few well-known names nipping at their heels, but somehow occupying a similar market position they’ve always occupied.

But a change is in the air. It’s something most people operating within the electronic security market may have noticed, but not paid too much attention to. The result of which is a few distributors in the market place that have all of a sudden shown significant growth.

High sale quality of specialist distributors

So, what are these companies doing that’s different to the established distribution channel? Why are they growing so fast when other more well-known names are dropped back?

The answer seems slightly counter-intuitive. What the established distributors have is diversity of product. What these other distributions have is a distinct lack of it.

Where the market leaders have many brands filling any number of requirements, there are other distributors who have purposely pinned their flags to a very limited number of masts. Although this runs the inevitable danger of limiting their scope, the one very important thing it does do is add a far higher level of quality to the sale. Think jack of all trades vs. master of one (or master of only a few in this case).

Better level of support from specialist distributors?

As with a product datasheet, where one CCTV camera can appear to be near identical to another despite there being a gulf in actual final delivered result, so it is with the support offered by alternative distributors. All will say they will go the extra mile with design assistance, training and more, but when you have a finite resource trying to offer this for sometimes 100 plus brands, the actual support given doesn’t come close to a similar resource concentrated on only a handful of brands.

Taking one distributor as an example, who has chosen to limit the products they offer, currently almost 50% of their customer facing staff are pre and post sales technical support and are primarily field based, getting involved in site surveys, prebuild and configuration and even the last fit commissioning. This is a level of support more established distribution simply don’t offer.

New rivals knocking the security market

Although it certainly isn’t required by all installers and integrators, more and more are looking for a distributor to be a business partner rather than just someone who has a box on the shelf. When you’re up against a deadline or an issue arises on site, knowing there’s a team of people ready to assist in resolving these with you, even to the point of being up the ladder next to you, can be a life saver. Once you’ve experienced this and seen the value this adds to your business, suddenly saving a few pounds on a camera doesn’t seem such a good deal.

So why the change? This is a lot of work for a distributor, and anyone with a hint of commercial awareness can see this would require higher margins to maintain in a market that seems to have its margins constantly eroded.

With all the change in the market, some distributors have decided to pick a side who they believe will support them down the road
Installers and integrators are looking for distributors who will act as business
partners - a knowledgeable team who can help with deadlines and arising issues
to add value and build up their business

The answer to this I think lies one stage further back in the supply chain – the manufacturers. Unless you’re coming out of a 10 year hibernation, you can’t have missed the sea change in the manufacturer make-up in the last few years. Once dominated by names like Bosch, Samsung, Honeywell and more, suddenly we have Chinese companies like Hikvision and Dahua knocking the market for six.

These two previous sleeping giants of the security industry have been supplying you with a large chunk of the CCTV products you’ve been using for many years, it’s just not been under their brand and it’s unlikely you even knew. Now with a recent change in direction from both companies, these same products are now available with their brand name on.

New players fighting with price drops

This has had one key effect, the price of the cameras and recorders we use has dropped significantly. And we’re talking big drops. You can now purchase a full HD 1080P IP camera for the price you were paying for a traditional entry analogue camera. Need a 16 channel NVR? Now yours for less than the cost of the hard drive you put in it. And these aren’t necessarily bad products either.

The knock on effect this has had is on the other manufacturers themselves. Where once you had a large product middle ground where pricing was in the Goldilocks zone of not too high, not too low, and the products were of suitable quality to warrant the cost, now we have these mid market products at entry level pricing.

Established manufacturers feeling the heat of competition

This is a big headache for the manufacturers who traditionally occupied this space as they’re now faced with a stark choice of either trying to elevate themselves out of the arena they’ve occupied for so long, or trimming all the fat off their sale and circling the wagons ready for a fight.

Both options have their pitfalls. Too many people operating at the higher end of the market makes for a very crowded area for what is a longer sale with tougher expectations and regulations. Stand toe to toe with a government backed $3.88 billion organisation and you’re very likely going to get a bloody nose.

With all the change in the market, some distributors have decided to pick a side who they believe will support (and maybe even pull) them down the road. We’ve seen the growth this has given Hikvision’s distributors, and similar results are now happening for Dahua distributors.

Specialist vs. generalist

With either specialist or single manufacturer distributors, there is acceptance there will always be applications they won’t have the product set to support. But if you were a user of one of these brands, would you rather purchase from a specialist distributor that knew it inside out and was willing to stand side by side with you, or someone that can’t possibly have the resources to support it fully?

This is obviously one man’s viewpoint of a highly complex situation involving many many companies, but few would argue with the impact some manufacturers are having.

And to end, a crystal ball moment. If you’re primarily operating outside the CCTV arena on other electronic security products and think this doesn’t affect you too much, stay tuned. When you have the aggressive growth plans that some of these manufacturers do in what is a finite marketplace, how long until you start looking over the wall at what your neighbour’s got and decide you want a piece of that action too?

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

Is hybrid working a red flag for business security?
Is hybrid working a red flag for business security?

The ‘new normal’ was all we heard about when it came to the working model shift after the pandemic hit. Businesses worldwide adopted working from home, and then the hybrid model: a balance of remote work and office work. And according to a recent survey by 451 Research, nearly 80% of organisations surveyed said they have implemented or expanded universal work-from-home policies as a result of COVID-19, whilst 67% expect these policies to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term. With more vacant office spaces, the question is: is hybrid working a red flag for business security? Empty-office days When buildings and office spaces are still active with advanced technology, equipment and assets on show, yet footfall is not as busy as it once was, opportunistic criminals are closely watching and taking note. But what are they learning? Security systems provider, Expert Security UK, investigates our new normal. Offices are nests for expensive, valuable equipment, with maybe the latest technology Instead of a packed, busy office five or six days a week, hybrid working means more empty-office days, which is music to the ears of burglars. Offices are nests for expensive, valuable equipment, with maybe the latest technology and safes sitting there, or potential stacks of cash or company cards. You may be thinking, well, who leaves company cards or cash out? You’d be surprised, especially when business owners think they’ll never be a victim, or sometimes, staff make mistakes. Hybrid working model And don’t forget, burglars don’t always know what’s been left and will take their chances. And when a hybrid working model is the ‘new normal’, that means a lapse in security - at least in a thief’s mind. So how worried should business owners be? Well, the latest figures are pretty worrying, but also, not massively shocking. Reiterating the temptation and lure the working model shift has on robbers, Statista recorded a 12-year high for robbery offences in the UK in 2019/2020. When more businesses either shut up shop or sent staff away to home offices, it’s not hard to make a connection. These figures reflect how, when given the opportunity, thieves will strike and take advantage. Handing vital information Whether you’ve decided to go fully remote, it’s crucial to review and rethink your business security However, it’s worth noting that the lockdowns and empty streets would also have played a part in this spike, and now that we’re out of lockdowns with a world back to flipping its sign to ‘open’, many businesses will be carrying on working from home, but towns, shops, and streets are busy again. Whether you’ve decided to go fully remote, or have adopted the hybrid model, it’s crucial to review and rethink your business security, starting with your social media presence. It’s a good idea to review your social media channels. We forget how open we can be on social media, and how our digital presence can actually work as a perfect guide and insight for criminals. All they have to do is follow your channels to pick up on clues. And if you’re not giving it a minute’s thought about what you're putting out there, you may even be just handing them vital information and helping their plans. Remote working shift Of course, there is information readily available such as your opening times, location etc. But, do you really want/need to show off the new, state-of-the-art tablets you’ve just kitted your office out with? It can be hard as a business, or even as a social person, to not want to share positive news on social media, but we really do have to stop and think, especially if people know a lot about the company and its remote working shift. It’s also a good idea to have a meeting with your staff about a social media policy Maybe share a post about that new, intelligent security system you've installed instead. It’s also a good idea to have a meeting with your staff about a social media policy or maybe just a casual chat about best practices, e.g. not to tag the business in a post about their new office gadget etc. Improving business security With fewer office days, you probably won’t need to take up as much work space anymore. Maybe some equipment has become more ornamental. Anything you don’t use or need, you could sell or donate. If you do have expensive equipment lying around that’s not being used, try and make money back from it or store it elsewhere. If you are keeping a lot of expensive equipment in vacant premises, especially fixed equipment and technology, then consider installing bars and shutters over the windows. Whatever your budget, you can improve your business security tenfold with key security measures. One of them being access control. Security gates with access control are incredibly effective at stopping unauthorised people from gaining entry. There are also car park barriers and bollards that are highly effective at keeping any potential getaway vehicles out. Easily portable technology High-quality CCTV is a best friend to any business, but you need to be reviewing it frequently High-quality CCTV is a best friend to any business, but you need to be reviewing it frequently, especially if you’ve done a perimeter check and noticed any signs of forced entry or damage. Don’t forget those signs either, let visitors or trespassers know they’re on camera. To fit in with the hybrid working model, static fixtures are becoming redundant. For instance, companies are switching to laptops instead of computers, so that workers can transport them easily to and from the office. This is not only more efficient and convenient, but it means assets are more guarded. It’s the same for any other gadgets. Having easily portable technology is good for business, hybrid working, and security. Don’t forget about your deterrents. Simple signs to warn people of alarms, CCTV, and even the fact that you don’t leave equipment inside overnight can go a long way. Best security technology Thieves are famous for taking their chances. Some will meticulously plan, and many strike at a convenient, opportune time. So having signs in place that show you have high-quality, intelligent security in place can work wonders, making them think twice. It’s also worth noting that you may not have the best security technology in place at the moment, but those on the outside don’t need to know that; they can be fooled. However, having the best physical security in place is vital, as criminals lurk and will take chances. Keep reviewing your security, especially as your business adapts and reshapes - whether you return back to full office days or carry on the hybrid working model. This guest post was contributed by Danny Scholfield, Managing Director of Expert Security UK.

What about electronic door locks with remote control?
What about electronic door locks with remote control?

Most consumers are enjoying the convenience brought by electronic locks. With the existence of electronic locks, people no longer need to be restricted by keys. There are a variety of unlocking methods and more convenient remote control unlocking options. Suppose, you are going on vacation, and with the presence of an electronic lock, you can easily enter your house with your babysitter, without a spare key. Of course, not only smart homes, but also some infrastructure and commercial buildings are enjoying the convenience, brought by electronic locks. Passive electronic lock access control system This article will introduce a smart electronic lock used in the infrastructure industry, named passive electronic lock access control system. In traditional manufacturing, mechanical locks are commonly used in all walks of life, to protect the safety of property and facilities. However, the mechanical lock has caused many practical problems in the long-term application. For example, the keys are duplicated randomly, the unlocking authority cannot be controlled, the user's operation records cannot be known, and the remote control is not possible. Imagine that if you are in a remote telecom base station, it happens that you have the wrong key in your hand and cannot open the front door. In such a situation, this lock, maybe the worst scenario. In some industries, with a wide scope and large working area, more attention must be paid to access control systems Therefore, in some industries, with a wide scope and large working area, more attention must be paid to access control systems. In some outdoor scenarios, such as base stations and electric power cabinets, the requirements for access control systems are quite strict. Due to the particularity of its environment, ordinary power-based access control systems will no longer be applicable. Therefore, the emergence of passive access control systems has solved these problems. Electronic locks offer intelligent management function Based on years of in-depth field research, Vanma has developed the Vanma passive electronic lock access control system, based on the current situation of the industry. This system is different from other electronic lock systems, as it integrates the advantages of both mechanical locks and electronic locks. It not only has the simplicity of mechanical locks, but also has the intelligent management function of electronic locks. The term ‘passive’ of passive electronic locks means that no power is needed. Passive electronic locks have the same appearance as ordinary mechanical locks, so they can be installed anywhere, just like common mechanical locks. They also have a variety of practical functions of electronic locks. Authorised remote access control The Vanma management software allows security managers to assign access rights to specific areas, for different technical personnel. In order to facilitate real-time access control, the electronic key can be used in conjunction with the mobile phone app, in order to send information about its access rights to the technicians, in real time. Vanma management software can provide access to all operations performed by technicians Vanma management software can provide access to all operations performed by technicians, including complete audit reports. Access attempts outside the specified time range or outside the specified area can be obtained through the report, so as to analyse any abnormal situations. Access control in extreme weather conditions In the access control system, the lock (lock cylinder) maintains an extremely high standard and its protection level is IP67, to ensure the greatest degree of protection. Infrared induction technology is used in the electronic key, even if the surface of the lock is wet, the electronic key can also transfer the access authority to the lock cylinder. Ensure stable exchange of information between the key and the lock cylinder. In other words, a poor connection cannot prevent the transmission of information between the key and the lock. At present, this kind of passive electronic lock is widely used in many fields, such as telecom, electric power, water utilities, public utilities, medical emergency and so on in Europe.

How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?
How soon will access control cards become extinct and why?

Since the advent of the physical security industry, access control has been synonymous with physical cards, whether 125 kHz ‘prox’ cards or the newer smart card alternatives. However, other credentials have also come on the scene, including biometrics and even smart phones. Some of these choices have distinct cost and security advantages over physical cards. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How soon will the access control card become extinct and why?