What Distributors Secretly Own Online Stores?

We have come to believe that some distributors own separate online stores that allow them to essentially sell direct over the Internet.

For example, distributor 'ABC' does not disclose that they own "SecurityProductsCentral.com", allowing them to an outlet to sell direct to end users over the Internet without people knowing that distributor 'ABC' is behind it.

So does this exist? Can you share any specific connections you have knowledge of?

A separate insight as which manufacturers do would be interesting also. When brand names showed up at Target and Sears' websites a couple of years ago, it was dismissed as third parties selling those brands directly, but given the pricing was essentially at suggested dealer costing, it was highly unlikely that a dealer or a third party Amazon type was the culprit.

As for distribution doing so with secret sites, let the conspiracy theories begin!

This one isn't exactly secret...


Edit: Forgot to mention they have an Amazon store.

Is that Accu-Tech, the Anixter subsidiary or?

Pretty sure that it is the same Accu-Tech, the Anixter subsidiary. They're logos are pretty much identical and they sell the same stuff. If they aren't, someone is doing some hard copying of the other.

Seems to just be the online version of Accutech. Like going to Sears traditional vs. Sears.Com. I wouldn't guess that is what this thread is getting at--as any wise business would offer their customers both the convenience of traditional channels of purchase as well as the online experience.

If you find distributors that are truly setting up ecommerce channels outside their own footprint, that would be another story. Something like "Security Distributor USA" running sites like AccessControlDeals.com or IPVideoforLess.com would be significant. Just my opinion...

A few distributors do, and a many of them have direct channels to online stores and provide product info, pricing, and drop ship services. For example if you search google shopping for a cctv product, chances are if there are 10 stores selling the item, along with amazon stores, then 7 of them are selling the same inventory, from the same distributor.

Question: Is a distributor of a protected line, say Sony, normally authorized to sell their product to end-users as well as resellers, (as long as MAP is not violated of course.)?

it comes down to what you define as end user. We have seen distributors bid on school and gov. contracts and just said the internal dept installing the project was the "reseller".

Undisclosed A,

So the distributor would provide the product and leave the installation to a third party? That seems like a mess for a contractor to get involved in.

This is interesting, I've never seen anything to indicate that distributors have a direct interest in online stores. I *do* believe that some of these online sellers generate enough business that the distributors are very reluctant to cut them off though.

IMO, there is too much risk to the distributor to have direct vested interest in operating an online store. I would not be surprised to learn of ex-employees of various distributors setting up shop online and using their inside contacts and relationships to secure reliable supply of equipment.

i know of a few distributors who have online stores under separate business names, and a few who along with manufactures sell directly on amazon.

Can you share any? :)

over the past five years seen the following or heard from end users: tried, anixter greybar, abp technology, and a few others. If you want to see who is selling online through direct partners, look who offers edi feeds. Others dont sell to end users but will call preferred resellers with the deal and give special pricing to pass the sale through. On Amazon if you look at the pricing you can often see price points after amazon fees that could have only come from distribution or mfg directly.

Besides the obvious, i.e. resellers, who really loses when distributors do this? Does it make manufacturers mad, or just jealous?

What you just said is the equivalent of, "If I hit you in the head with a baseball bat, besides the obvious of it hurting, what really is the problem?"

Yes, its resellers that lose here. They lose twice, once because their margins / positions are undermined and, again, because the distributor (or manufacturer) is hiding / pretending that they are 'protecting the channel.'

What you just said is the equivalent of, "If I hit you in the head with a baseball bat, besides the obvious of it hurting, what really is the problem?"

Excellent example! So yes I lose big time because I'm highly injured and/or dead. (just like a reseller might be in the marketplace).

But you might have a small legal 'headache' there yourself, no? As a direct consequence of your actions. If this wasn't the case there would be a lot more bats hitting a lot more heads...

Likewise, some negative consequence would keep the Dirty Disty from blatantly bashing the resellers. Maybe the Disty's competition exposes him to the resellers. Maybe the manufacturer raises prices to the Disty. Maybe the resellers revolt.

But if you're right that there really are no significant problems for anybody besides the resellers then it should be expected that all the Distys are swinging for the fences...

"But you might have a small legal 'headache' there yourself, no?"

That's why they are doing this secretively.

With ip products, more and more internal it dept. or even maintenance staff are installing the systems. Honestly they are doing pretty good jobs. As the projects are basically IT oriented, organizations are saying if we already spend money on IT staff, why not have them do the IP cameras. Projects range for 5 cameras to 200, and the trend is growing.

I guess we fall into this category. We are a distributor for some lines and a reseller for others so our customer base is a mix between integrators, resellers, and end users. Customers can be a mom and pop installer , or we have large customers like the US Army, SpaceX, and Maersk. The need and line for 2 tier distribution is fading.

Canal Security is also 123securityproducts.com

Securitybestbuy.com is owned by a distributor.

I am still reading the post and comments however this pertains to mostly independent distributors. I know quite a few that do this but all of us in the physical geography know about that. Does not seem to be a big issue.

EDIT: (after reading comments) After reading some comments I can see that some of them (distributors) have been flushed out. All I know is these distributors bring in big dollars 7 digits in a year. I have seen this across different manufacturers.

No one wants to admit it but we go to these distributors as they are hitting the mark in help us attain quota.

Worthington Distribution sells retail at ASIHome.com

Home Controls sells retail at discounthomeautomation.com, and on Amazon, Sears, and Newegg

Anixter is launching an new store, some parts are restricted to dealers, or have to call for quote.


The line between reseller and distributor is fastly blurring. Many online retailers drop ship from distributors and online pricing is about 2-3% above cost so not really any difference between them.

A, how is what Anixter doing here different than what they had before? I just don't know. Thanks.

The new site Anixter is testing is more Ecommerce friendly, and geared towards every one buying not just trades. It used to be that it was cumbersome to buy from a distributor for a new customer or end user. That is the reason there are so many online resellers, they take products shipped from distribution and make the buying process easy. Now distributors are making new customer sign up as easy as entering name and email address on a signup page and giving instant access to products. Distributors are even bidding for ads against resellers now on Google.

So right now if a distributor offers EDI feeds then they are basically selling directly online through partner resellers who are marking up a few points and drop shipping, or the distributors are selling direct under different names or under a login to see price.

The whole two tier channel model is collapsing. Margins are basically gone for resellers. They are so low, we don't stock a single item any longer and ship directly now. We would be out of business in a month if we did. The only ones that will survive are niche businesses, and side businesses that dont mind making 1% profit

No secret here. Many of the recognized national distributors either have a poorly disguised online site, or a partnership with a large site. Some distributors will pass the products to these online sites at cost while making money on the back-end from the manufacturer's pay-early discounts, VIR programs, and trailing credits.