Anixter: Do Not Call Us Box Movers!

Distributors hate being called box movers.

And as IPVM distributor survey results showed, Anixter is not even great at that.

Fear not.

Anixter has a slogan aimed to change that. Here it is:

Sure, 'end to end solution' is a popular buzz word now though most Anixter products are individual components (as many 'end to end' manufacturers sell direct).

So Anixter's 'solution' here is to market those individual components combined as 'complete security solutions'.

What do you think? Vote:

I like it. You can have a mindset without a slogan, but a slogan helps.

But are they really good at delivering 'complete security solutions'? Or is it more terms, inventory, etc.?

That's what I meant about slogan and mindset. If you're going to fundamentally change the way you do business, the best way to start is to let all your employees know that you're fundamentally changing the way you do business. Of course, too many companies stop there, forgetting that declaring your intention to change is only the first in a very long list of things you have to do. But it's an important first step and it's really hard to change without it.

It's too early to fairly evaluate whether they're follwoing up on their intentions or not.

I'll be curious to see how they do that. I am still curious to understand what that means.

It seems Anixter does best with larger organizations that already know what 'solutions' they want and go to Anixter for more logistical reasons.

Well, if I had to guess, they probably want to be the company people call to say "I got a customer request that I have no idea how to handle, what do I need to buy?" and then, ideally, the salesperson on the other end should be able to say "okay, you'll need X, Y, and Z from manufacturer A, B, and C, and here's how you wire everything up together" and the customer will be so greatful they never, ever buy anything from anywhere else even if you're more expensive or out of stock or whatever.

It takes a lot of salesperson training, and it makes all your phone calls or emails take longer to resolve, and you're never really done improving yourself or your processes, but, done right, it can pay off. You have to have a lot of time and resources and patience and even then not everybody can pull it off, especially if they have a boxmover mindset. And of course you just have to accept it on faith that this will, in fact, translate to customer loyalty, and that this customer loyalty will translate into more money than your education program cost you. But distribution is a tough business, and if you don't figure out a way to stand out, someone else will come along and eat your lunch.

Well, they have a lot of work to do then, as various integrators criticized Anixter for just not doing that:

  • "Anixter. They have no idea what are they selling and sales reps constantly change."
  • "Anixter, unexperienced reps that change too often"
  • "Anixter - Because they are Box movers. It is our responsibility to provide correct model numbers. Only then they will provide the price. Also after sales experience also not good as there are no hard core technical engineers."
  • "The worst of the ones I deals with would be Anixter as they don't specialize in security as they are more of an electrical distributor. They are true order takers. Recently I asked my account representative for options for an integrated platform platform consisting of CCTV, access control and intrusion. They had no idea what I was talking about."
  • "Anixter hands down. You can NEVER get someone on the phone, plus they split their crew into various departments. Each department knows NOTHING about the other. For example, the guy selling you cameras can't sell you wire. Slow clap, Anixter. They've also double charged us for orders by accident."
  • "Anixter - Bad customer server, bad online ordering, conflict of interest"
  • "Anixter. They only hire idiots and their departments are segmented so nobody can help you with everything"
  • "When quoting equipment, they are not upfront with shipping charges and equipment costs end up higher than competitors after shipping costs are factored."
  • "Anixter. Lack of follow up - no real local store type setup - very quick to sell boxes and move along. Parts dribble in etc."

Yeah, if you're going to pick a problem to fix, it should logically be your biggest one.

My belief is that the more a distributor tries to push end to end solutions, or complete solutions then they are trying to no longer be a distributor but trying to be a solutions provider or integrator. The only differenciating thing between that model and a reseller/installer are the installers.

The only reason companies like Anixter are pushing this is that they realize their contribution to the channel is shrinking and they are basically just moving boxes, which in todays world, is not enough to justify existance. The only value I currently see is stocking large qnty of items and providing credit facilities to customers. It would be so much easier for us if we could buy our larger items like cameras and NVR's direct from the manufacturer as our current suppliers are mostly just that, box movers.

The only value I currently see is stocking large qnty of items and providing credit facilities to customers.

Which Amazon will always do better.

Though, as you know, Amazon just does not have the range of surveillance equipment that Anixter (or many other surveillance specialized distributor / re-sellers have). If and when they did, could be a big deal.

Related: Amazon Aims To Compete With ADI and Anixter

There's very little stopping them from doing so, should they decide to. They might even buy an existing online retailer in order to step into a turnkey business, like they did with 6pm,, or Zappos. Once that's done, it'll be game over for anyone who doesn't add value. Although it's likely that trunkslammers and elderly, who don't like ordering over the internet or who need same-day cash and carry service, could sustain ADI, the rest of the surveillance industry order-takers will be updating their resumes.


Amazon is ambitious. I doubt they'd buy just security, but a broader IT reseller with a security portfolio sounds believable. I guess we will see what happens!

I dont see a reason for them to buy. They are already getting manufacturers from many verticals coming to them to sell direct. Third party sellers pay amazon a fortune to list the products. Manufacturers have to give amazon certain margins, pay MDF and stocking fees. All this is much more lucarative then trying to buy a third party store and try to sell under a different brand.

They sell a lot of shoes, too, but they still bought Zappos. I don't pretend to understand why.

Here's another Anixter recent ad.

Not sure what it means:

"Can't ... hold doors open any longer... slipping..."

I have only had brief experience directly with Anixter. It was so bad I would never consider them for anything. The inside rep didn't know anything about video products and didn't even know his own system well enough to provide pricing on product. I actually had to look at their on line catalog to tell him that he had a product that I was looking for and the part number so he could provide a price. (this particular product was an Exacq hybrid server)

I have had good experience with Tri-ed. I tell them what I want and they tell me price and delivery. Both of which are usually good. Unfortunately Anixter owns Tri-ed, so It's probably only a matter of time until they screw that up to.

What's worse than a box mover is when distributors compete head to head with integrators selling directly to the end consumers. That is constantly happening in the south Florida market. That should probably be the subject of another discussion.

Anixter and Graybar both original electrical suppliers saw low voltage as profitable and opened up those divisions. Now they see access, CCTV, and security in the same light. They have already been selling this for years just not doing good at it; price or knowledge.
I couldn't resist replying to this. I have dealt with Anixter from the top down for a decade. They are the following: 1 Opportunistic 2 Heavy handed 3 NOT "demand creators" contrary to their claim 4 Selling to end users in our business and have done so since first getting into security products 5 Simply a bank for manufacturers 6 Overstaffed on the outside sales team and underprepared on the inside sales team...and neither group is excellent at anything 7 Shameless about asking to register projects for which they had nothing to do with "creating the demand" 8 Probably not going to improve anything at Tri-Ed since Tri-Ed does what they do better than Anixter...but that won't stop Anixter from eventually changing things at Tri-Ed for the worse.

SPOT ON U3M!! We've piggybacked on our structured cabling sales (Anixter's biggest customer in our region) for terms, shipping, etc. But when it comes to knowledge of security, they have very little if any value.

Tri-Ed has been a much bigger help but since Anixter has acquired them, we have lost the ability to deal with Tri-Ed directly. We now are directed back to Anixter to which we've changed the majority of our security purchases to CSC. Even though CSC still 'Can't Ship Crap', they actually refer customers to us which have resulted in some fairly good sales and that is of course a big value to us. We all know Anixter's history of doing an 'end around' on integrators' customers.

Anything over 10 cameras and the Anixter rep asks if he can 'register the project', makes my stomach turn!!

Anixter is and has always been a competitor, not a distributor! Any Integrator who does business with them shoud have his/her head examined! For as long as I remember, Anixter has sold security products direct to the end user, for exactly the same wholesale price they offer Integrators.

We would not buy so much as a connector from them!

The same thing can be said for Silmar Electronics in Miami,

"There is not enough margin in our proposal" to honor our proposal. They cannot co-ordinate a large rollout.

Sorry, can you elaborate on the 'not enough margin in our proposal comment'. Are you referring to Anixter or? A specific incident?

They offered terms of 60 days but when the large order shipped, they demanded payment in 30 days. They also offered to take my credit card (I like the miles) but then refused with the comment "There was not enough margin in the margin". Then they agreed to take the credit card but wanted to charge a fee for using the credit card. That's illeagle in California and Texas. They could not properly co-ordinate the orders by projects. There was always one item or the other that got lost. The sales person was un-responsive and would not return phone calls. We moved on to greener pastures.

I work for a manufacturer and I have this to say to Anixter as they piss me off. Quit F'ing selling to end users and making my job more difficult.

There has been countless times as a manufacturer I've caught them selling direct to end user and cutting the integrator who did the work out of the deal.

I think the answer is having more manufacturers allowing installers buy direct. If the channel is broken and not working, then its time to reinvent things.

Anixter can be direct competition with any integrator out there and sell directly to the end user and a lot of the manufacturers turn a blind eye to it. this is not good for any integrator out there. This also happens with a lot of regional distributors especially on large project so what are integrators to do? Distribution is a very necessary part of the security business due to the fact that most manufactures are not set up to handle the large volumes of orders shipping all over the country. Most manufacturers also do not have the capability of offering special financing options, project staging, etc… especially on large projects like a true national distributor. Distributors should be your partners and helping you win business by giving you the pricing, inventory, and financing you need to win projects. Should you need more technical questions every manufacture as a team of people to help.

Many distributors say they do not sell to end users but this is rarely the case. They justify this by making customers create an account before they can purchase. Many times this account is simply filling in a web form or fax in form then they get their login credentials to order. There is never any "verification" of being a reseller. I have seen a few resellers use this trick and offer their customers a "login" to see slightly better pricing to make them think they are getting reseller pricing. Our company is a reseller and distributor, it depends on the brand where we fall in the channel. We sell to both end users and resellers/ installers. We see our competition to be large national distributors and Amazon. You would be surprised how many small and medium installers and end users alike just go on amazon to source items for projects. Pricing is close to wholesale and they get free shipping and its super easy to order.

I work for a national distributor (Wynit) we do not sell to end user's and there is a zero tolerance policy for this. in order to set up an account with us you would have to have a valid sales use tax certificate for your state to do business. we also require a full credit application with references and we will research the company before we do business. We will also sign an NDA and non compete with our partners as well. So yes there are good distributors out there that understand the role of distribution in the channel. In my opinion it is not the job of distributor to call on end user’s, spec projects, or decide who a project goes to. it is our job to support our partners as they are bringing us opportunity, work with manufacturers to secure the best possible pricing by understanding the project and challenges with the project, knowing manufacturer programs and pricing, to pass these discounts on to the reseller, work with our finance department to come up with the best terms for a project, and provide logistics for the project. This puts our partners in the best situation to win an opportunity and allows them to win it not on just price but to also have the availability of adding their value to the deal. Distribution is about true partnership and not just moving boxes but there has to be trust between partners for this concept to work. There are some of us out there that understand this concept and our entire business is modeled on this. Why would you ever want to compete with your partner? A lot of integrators understand this concept and more and more are catching on. This is something that Amazon will never be able to accomplish because they are just a box mover. As far as Anixter it is up to them to do business how they want to do business but at the end of the day it’s the integrators decision on how they want to do business with and who they can trust.

I get emails like this from Anixter pretty much daily. The "Ask an Expert" section is a relatively new (year or two) and probably could go on the other conversation about Anixter. Gist is they sell to anyone that will buy, but their prices are still higher than we can get elsewhere. So if you are using them for parts/pieces you are hurting yourself. Once you add your mark up your price will be well above what it should be. I think the ONLY thing we use them for now is wire and that is still hit or miss.

Anixter is a great company. Having worked there and experienced it firsthand, I truly believe this. That said, their biggest weakness isn't their messaging /'s their ability to execute on the messaging consistantly across their branches. This is almost always the hardest part since each branch is run individually and markets vary, but it lends itself to disbelief when even a single branch does something contrary to what is being told to the market by corporate.

For instance...the selling direct issue. I know that some branches do this, and for some, it's extremely limited and easy to justify. For others, they just don't get it and act in a way totally against what it is they preach. At the end of the day, the actions of some branches hurt the credibility of others that act responsibly, and it all comes down to inconsistency -- the corporate message is not consistent with the activity at the branch level.

To be fair, I have mostly seen the violating branches to be those that have a much smaller security footprint, as the larger branches that do a lot tend to respect the rules a lot more because they know by breaking them, it hurts their business. Unfortunately, word travels quickly and the actions of even one salesperson at Anixter can negatively affect the credibility of many other branches.

I'm not really sure how the integration of Tri-Ed has played into all this, or if it has at all. I'd guess that by moving all the pure security dealers / integrators over to the Tri-Ed side of the house eliminates the potential for the inside salespeople within Anixter (that do much more than just security) to violate this "golden rule", but I'm honestly not sure.

I know this is long, but I'll sum up by simply saying that I do believe Anixter is much more than just box movers. Their supply chain services provide significant value to those that have figured out how to utilize them properly, and I've witnessed firsthand the value that a solid relationiship with them at a corporate and branch level brings to the mix in terms of strategic positioning on new deals as well as new business development. The key is to understand that not every branch is perfect and make sure that if you choose to work with them, that there are certain things (like selling direct) that are just unacceptable.

One thing for sure is that if you make Anixter a significant partner for your business, they will in turn make you a significant part of their's, and this will almost always make your business least in my experience.

The key is to understand that not every branch is perfect and make sure that if you choose to work with them, that there are certain things (like selling direct) that are just unacceptable.

I think every integrator is sure that selling direct is unacceptable.

Selling direct is not only unacceptable, it is inexcusable! Anixter could have a company policy, prohibiting end user sales, as do other "true distributors". For Anixter Corporate to turn a blind eye to this practice should give every integrator the ability to make a simple decision. "Do I want to buy products from my competitor?" Simple enough!

There are others such as Tri-Ed (mentioned) and ScanSource (not mentioned) that have firm policies in place that PROHIBIT end-user sales! Common sense should prevail...

You're kidding yourself if you think that any distributor won't sell to the end user under the right circumstances.

This is verbatim from an email feud I recently had with an imbecile of a distributor:

"Our true job as a vendor is really to just distribute product. We are not supposed to do your job."

From the "things you think but don't actually say" file.