Guest Post: Joel Dart, Ingram Micro
When I go to industry events and meet people just coming into the digital signage industry, the conversation invariably comes around to who I work for and what we do. When I say Distribution, I’ll often get a somewhat blank stare.
It’s a key part of the Canadian and global digital signage industry, but most of what distribution is all about happens behind the scenes and isn’t well understood, particularly by newcomers.
So what is it?
Distribution offers a complete solution for a signage network, including key areas like inventory warehousing, supply chain coordination, configuration of a technical solution, financing, installation and training.
Distribution companies also make doing business easier by offering an extensive line card of vendors and products catering to all digital signage solutions.
Just in 2016, more than $65 million in display sales were transacted through distribution. It’s a big business.
Why is distribution easier? A lot of the technology cost in signage deals is tied to large format displays. Those deals are large and time sensitive, but distributors like Ingram Micro, where I work, have supply chain coordinators that work with vendor partners to provide estimated time of arrival and frequent updates on when the product will, indeed, arrive. In some cases, distributors can escalate important deals, so that they are received immediately and shipped out when they arrive.
Special bid pricing can also be requested and obtained for multiple vendors from distribution for competitive pricing to help meet end users price points.
Distributors have technical resources that can ask a number of questions to customers to determine the vendor agnostic solutions that will best meet the end users’ needs and price points. In most cases, multiple vendor solutions are presented and demonstrated to customers to ensure that the best solution is selected.
Credit terms can be negotiated with customers and distributors to facilitate end-user payment challenges. Higher limits, because of the high expense of a large format display project, are quite common with credit departments. Also, extended terms to deal with any collection issues can also be negotiated.
Distributors have their own leasing teams and also work with third-party leasing teams to provide billing options to their customers. There is a high upfront cost on digital signage projects and because of this, exploring a monthly leasing payment option is something that customers consider and offer to their end users.
Professional Services and installers are also options that distributors can offer to customers that need them. Wireless assessments, cabling and a number of different technical installations, are on a typical distributer’s line card, to meet the needs of customers who cannot fulfill these needs with their end users.
Distributors also work with their vendor community to provide events and meetings where vendors can engage & enable your customers. These events can be multi-faceted and customized to meet the demands of your customer.