The New Role of Distribution in Digital Signage

By Alan C. Brawn, CTS, ISF-C, DSCE

The genesis of the topic for this week springs forth from the teaching of the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage. The elements we teach are hardware, software, connectivity, content, operations, design and business. It almost sounds like the "7 dirty words you cannot say on television" from the late and great George Carlin! The fact is that in digital signage we use all of these elements at least at one level or another in every one of the systems we design and the projects we integrate. The issue at hand is the complexity of understanding all of these areas and then blending them into a truly integrated system that works like it is supposed to and have a reasonable total cost of ownership and a solid ROI or ROO.

If we look at the key elements, we can see that most of us are experts or at least knowledgeable in 3 or 4 areas if we are honest with ourselves but most of us lack expertise and experience in one or more of these elements. For example, a digital signage reseller may be knowledgeable in hardware, connectivity, design, and operations but know little about software or content. The choices confronting them are twofold: they can either learn what they need to know or partner with someone who already has that expertise. What you cannot do is to avoid the issue and pay less attention than needed in any area. To do that is to create the weak link in the chain that we all dread so much.

For the sake of argument, let's say that a reseller does not have a good "partner" to work with. What are their options? The answer today lies in picking a good distributor "partner" to work with. In the olden days distributors had a bit of a bad rap. This related to their historical penchant for providing customers a 1-800 number, a spec sheet and a "cheap" price. No service, just price. While this may still be the business practice of some, there are several professional IT and Pro AV distributors serving the digital signage industry that have adopted a true "partnering" methodology and mentality to better serve their constituencies and to insure repeat business and ultimately fill in the proverbial blanks in the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage where their clients need help. Do not be confused. This is in no way altruistic on the part of thee distributors rather the intelligent employment of effective business practices to meet the needs of an explosive market.

This begs the question of how are they approaching the new market dynamics. First of all, they understand that their sales teams can only be of effective value to their clients if they know what they are talking about. In this regard, companies like Tech Data, Ingram Micro, and Avnet on the IT side and Almo on the Pro AV side to name a few have assigned dedicated teams to the support of digital signage and also invested in their employees professional growth to certify each member of their sales teams with the Digital Signage Certified Experts (DSCE) program.

This along with key manufacturer's training programs, trade shows like the Digital Signage Expo and organizations like the new Digital Signage Federation give us an educated and professional base of sales people to serve the reseller community.

Secondly, these progressive distributors are making certain that they have all the product and services you will need associated with the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage. And yes that means content, software, extended warranties, etc. By culling out products that are not first rate, and adding first tier manufacturers to their line cards, they can address your needs with a variety of appropriate choices that fit your specific needs.

These "new age" distributors do not stop at products but also offer services of every type and variety. The can get you integration help in North Dakota and 24/7/365 on site service after the sale in Idaho or even Alaska. Services can span a lot of territory and may include creative financing as well. Extended terms, leasing, and even customized financial products are available.

The fact is that some of the best distributors are really trying to become your digital signage partners. They provide professionally certified sales people who consult with you. They provide excellent products and services, and the go to bat for you with multi-billion dollar manufacturers when something goes array. Many distributors like Almo, Ingram Micro, and Tech Data take their message and services on the road with regional shows for their resellers. This ain't cheap for them to do this folks but it does show their dedication to serving you and becoming a true partner.

Ultimately it is in your best interest to find the proper distributor "fit" for your particular business model and one size does not fit all. If necessity is truly the mother of invention, the new look and feel of the distributors serving the digital signage market is proof of the pudding. Just remember when talking to and selecting a distributor partner, that you get what you pay for and good partnerships and excellent customer service have a huge value that will always pay dividends in the end. Select wisely and you will see that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just remember to thank your partners!

Republished with permission from DSEG

This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.