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Security buying: Why purchase from a distributor?

Distributors have to continue to prove and improve the value of being that single source while evolving to meet changing demands
A perceived benefit of buying direct is to save money as opposed to paying a middleman

Security companies have multiple options to purchase security products today online, manufacturer direct, or from the vast array of security products and electrical supply networks dotting the landscape. Because there are numerous options, and costs may not vary drastically, the final decision on where to purchase ultimately boils down to service and additional support these channels offer.

Security integrators look for certain value-adds from the places they buy equipment. Many require specification and design assistance or simply want to be sure their equipment arrives on time and is ready to go, especially for a fast-track project. Each security company’s requirements are different, depending on the nature of the company, the vertical markets they serve, and whether customers are small-to-medium businesses, large national accounts, or enterprise clients. Security distributors have to be able to meet these needs, or systems integrators will likely go elsewhere. The key for suppliers is providing the type of support that differentiates them and keeps security companies returning as customers.

SourceSecurity.com interviewed Steven Gorski, Vice President Security Solutions, WESCO Distribution, Pittsburgh, to get his thoughts on what sets a distributor apart.

SourceSecurity.com: What’s the value proposition for a security distributor today? What do you have to do to differentiate yourself in the competitive security marketplace?

Gorski: Historically, when a distributor has been in the position of justifying its value, it has often been in reaction to the question: “Why buy through a distributor when you can buy direct?” That question is based on the assumption that buying direct is more advantageous. A perceived benefit of buying direct is to save money as opposed to paying a middleman, the distributor. The buying power of distributors, however, brings down costs, and these breaks are passed down to integrator customers. Other advantages of buying from a distributor have included: access to products from manufacturers that sell only through distribution and one-stop shopping for sourcing, logistics, and more. We sometimes refer to the latter as “one throat to choke” if anything goes wrong.

As a distributor, we have to continue to prove and improve the value of being that single source while evolving to meet changing demands. WESCO sells online, for instance, because that’s how some of our customers buy. But we can’t just be another e-commerce site; our overall value is derived from all the services and expertise we offer.

It’s what the distributor offers around that product that not only justifies their contribution to the market, but sets them apart from other channels
Regional security managers can walk through specifications with an integrator or even meet onsite

SourceSecurity.com: What are some of the ways in which you assist systems integrators with their specifications?

Gorski: WESCO has many security-focused specialists who help integrators every step of the way. These resources include our regional security managers who walk through specifications with an integrator or even meet onsite with the integrator and their customers, plus our telesales professionals who talk customers through technical issues.

SourceSecurity.com: What do you think is the role of the security distributor today beyond providing products?

Gorski: Numerous sources can simply provide product. It’s what the distributor offers around that product that not only justifies their contribution to the market, but sets them apart from other channels. For WESCO, those extras include a variety of value-added services for our integrator partners, such as conducting proactive business development for these customers. We also perform IP camera addressing to circumvent potential problems on the job site and reduce on site labour costs for the installer. It’s hard to put a price on those types of services, but integrators do recognise how these value-adds build their business and save them time and money.

See our Round Table discussion: How is the role of distributors changing in the security market?


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