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Distributors Preparing For Differentiated Product Lines


Are you seeing attempts by suppliers to
differentiate their lines and push commodity products
to mass channels and more high-end products
to specialists?

Stephen Bodnarchuk, M. Rothman & Co:

have continually tried to market and segment
product by channel; this year is no different.
With life cycles of electronics products becoming
even shorter and products becoming more advanced
and feature rich, it is even more important for the
manufacturers as well as the distributor community
to get the right products in to the right

The challenge that remains is viable
channels and disciplines. There
simply aren’t as many directed sales
floors left.

We are definitely seeing an increase in product offerings
along all lines and categories with the intent
of segmenting by channel in 2012, and channel management
has certainly become an even greater focus
this year.

Brent McCarty, Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics:

Yes. Where consumers purchase products
is changing at a rapid pace. Manufacturers are trying
to ensure they leverage the strengths of the multiple
channels and are modifying their approach — and in
some cases products — to address the change and
the differentiators of the various sales channels.

Fred Towns, New Age Electronics/Jack of All

We have seen a little bit of this, but the trend
we are experiencing most is manufacturers offering
extended assortments and step-up models to give
the customer a more robust experience. Consumers
have been educated on the new enhanced features
offered, such as web-enabled TV, and are asking
their retailers for them.

Michael Flink, ADI Americas:

While some suppliers
are trying to differentiate their product lines,
there is a lot more to be done. Major suppliers have
strategies to differentiate between mass-market
and specialty products. Our dealers
prefer the specialty channel as it
provides them with opportunities to
deliver more value with higher specs
and better performing products.

Jerry Satoren, DSI Systems:

Yes, I am seeing a little more of that this year. But I
think many suppliers’ new and improved MAP policies
take care of that without having to exclude highend
products from certain channels by policy, at least
in the brick-and-mortar space.

However, I am seeing significant attempts by suppliers
to differentiate their lines between brick and ecommerce
channels. In my opinion, these moves are
the key to providing the profit margins required for suppliers
and retailers to get these higher-end technology
products built, sold and into consumers’ homes.

Ron Eby, D&H Distributing:

A perfect example
happens in the headphone category: Manufacturers
are pushing to increase their unit growth via more accessible
product lines, but they have also developed
high-end and fashion models to drive a higher [average
selling price].

Retailers are being forced to differentiate themselves
in order to compete with e-commerce venues.
The Internet is growing faster than ever as
mobile shopping apps improve. More people have
tablets available to them, which allow consumers to
do instant price look-ups. The online shopping experience
has become more comfortable and secure.
Additionally, as e-tailers’ delivery methods improve
there is less of a gap in instant gratification for online