Buy From B&H, Ship Direct From ADI

By IPVM Team, Published Oct 16, 2017, 01:56pm EDT

B&H, one of the largest online sellers of video surveillance equipment to end users, regularly purchases their video surveillance equipment from ADI to resell to ends users, confirmed from multiple orders IPVM placed.

Is this fair game for ADI or does it undermine its commitment to its security dealer customers?

Inside this note, we examine the relationship and the case for and against it.

ADI / *&*

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Scale ** *&*

*** *** ******* **** likely ******** *********** ** B&H's *****, ** ***** of *******, ***** *** organization. ***** ***** **** ELVESsupply ***** ** *** fringes ** *-********, *&* is ***** *****, **** known, *** ********* * strong ******** ** *** of **** ****** ****** results *** ***** ************ products. *&* ** * challenge ** ******** ******* for *** ***** ******* to *** ******.

***** *** ** ********* free ** **** ** whom **** ****, ** ADI ***** ** ********* in *** ********* *** positioning **** ** ***** to ******** ********** ****, they ****** ***** ******* to *&*.

Vote / ****

Comments (78)

I can confirm I am a licensed dealer and I understand that ADI does not sell to end-users.

This statement is designed to make dealers think that ADI protects the channel more than it does.

After all, it doesn't say:

 "All products must be installed by a licensed installer." 

Therefore, all that it would take would be to have a "licensed installer" on staff to check the box.

Also, many states don't license LV work, so what then?

The second part of the statement is clearly a red herring, as why does a dealer need to check a box saying that they "understand ADI does not sell to end-users."?


ADI sells for cash out the front door, no commercial check required, no license required. I have purchased Items from branches in (3) states so it is a policy no doubt.


There is no channel protection and if you think shopping at ADI is smart shopping, have you fallen or bumped your head lately?

I guess that's why all those products listed on B&H are always listed in stock.

I ordered a product a while ago from ELVESsupply and saw that it came from ADI. They were about the only place that had the product I needed in stock.

If B&H lists a product as being in stock, that means they physically have it in their New Jersey warehouse (or, sometimes, their New York City warehouse). Items to be drop shipped are listed as 3-7 days, 7-4 days, or 2-4 weeks. 

They usually ship same day if you order before 4:00 PM Eastern.

Thanks for the information. That would make this article misleading because the picture is a screenshot of the website showing the item in stock at B&H while the ADI slip of that recorder is shown below. This is what prompted my comment. I buy a lot of video and audio recording equipment from B&H and I've always had good experience and haven't ever had any of the equipment I buy personally come from ADI. 

Not really misleading, just different stock levels at different times. That NVR is in stock at B&H now. At the time we ordered it, it was not. 

From my order confirmation email, which lists it as "more on the way" (out of stock):

If I remember correctly it arrived about 5 days later.

Why does ADI ship cameras to PA from a NY warehouse, and NVRs (also to PA) from a NV warehouse?

also, why does B&H spell photo with an F?

Because they are PHABULOUS!

Their purchasing is a German maybe?

I do not know ADI's shipping strategies but I would guess it would depend on where they have inventory for certain products at certain times.

It has to do with where the hubs of inventory are located.  Sparks, NV is one.

Exactly. Local stores carry "A", "B" and "C" stock, which are the things they sell regularly. Other, slower moving inventory, is kept at "hub" locations and shipped as required. 

Yet, B&H seems to have lower pricing than ADI... anyone else notice that?

Yet, B&H seems to have lower pricing than ADI... anyone else notice that?

We checked a half dozen products from Axis, Hanwha and Hikvision. We found that 2 of the Hikvision ones were less expensive at B&H than ADI (based on non-partner level pricing) but that the other ones were modestly more expensive. It looks like, on net, it is quite close. However, if you factor in premium partner discounts and ADI's never ending sales on Hikvision, ADI would be less.

B&H will mostly be cheaper if you shop online. Because B&H ships free (orders over $49) while ADI overcharge for shipping

"ADI drop ships for any customer, so what ADI is doing for B&H here is the same that they would do for any security dealer."

This statement is not entirely true. Depends on your size and relationship with ADI. 

#6, I don't know how ADI handles it in practice, but when we did the ELVESsupply report, ADI declared to us:

We offer every dealer the service of drop shipping their order directly to their customer. This includes the largest dealers out there who drop ship entire CCTV / fire / access control systems, direct to their job site, or as simple as replacement batteries for a wireless transmitter to a home owner, to prevent a truck roll, where the battery is user replaceable.

Yes that may be their general statement but they have contracts with manufactures like Hikvision that say they're not supposed to do this for their products. So if you're a smaller dealer you may be told "no" when you try to drop ship certain products. I do find being in this industry though that official statements and contracts are rarely what is actually practiced. 

Yes that may be their general statement but they have contracts with manufactures like Hikvision that say they're not supposed to do this for their products.

That's interesting, also ironic, if true, considering ADI is shipping Hikvision direct to end-users bought through B&H. I'll ask if ADI can comment on that, thought I am not optimistic that they will comment on such specific details.

Even past "policy" there is variation among the individual branches. Some branches will do a cash sale to anybody who walks through their door, while others are almost obsessive about only selling wholesale. Kind of a lost cause in today's e-commerce world.

That is incorrect. I purchase a couple of hundred bucks worth of stuff once or twice a year, and they drop ship as requested.

This practice can frustrate manufacturers who attempt to support their stocking distributors by shutting down internet resellers who only in turn go and buy from a wholesaler to satisfy their broker ways.

Manufacturers are as much at fault as ADI is in this case.  They turn a blind eye because of the revenue, but in turn tell the integrator's they are working hard to protect the channel.  If a manufacturer cared, they would shut down the distribution channel asap, but that never happens.

Unfortunately this isn't unique to the security industry, although it's on a greater scale compared to other industries I've worked in.

Same BS...Buy From Newegg, Ship Direct From DAHUA

Not quite.  Dahua is not a distributor.

This is interesting, you listed Axis as one of the companies you can buy from.  Axis prides themselves in the channel, Axis -> Distributor -> Integrator -> End User.  I've always been told that Axis has a rebate program for distributors to discourage this type of sale.  Meaning that if the distributor can't show that the product is being sold to an "Axis Partner" then they pay full price for the product.  Looking on their site, I'm seeing Axis products for under MSRP, so this most not be the case.

B&H drives Axis crazy. They are not an authorized reseller. My contact at Axis says they (B&H) will find a channel partner who will sell to them for a couple of points above cost. I was engineer on a project where the end user bought about 30K of Axis equipment from B&H. Axis was not happy about it.

Another interesting article from IPVM! I imagine most subscribers are interested in customer service, availability, and price.  Is B & H IPVM's preferred supplier of testing equipment or how do you decide the supplier?

Is B & H IPVM's preferred supplier of testing equipment or how do you decide the supplier?

No, we do not have a 'preferred' supplier. We buy from various sources. B&H is certainly one of them because they generally ship quickly and offer a number of products. 

Done with ADI.  I now know where my customers get products to undercut me...from my own distributor.

This also hurts regional manufacturer sales managers as they do not get credit for any of the revenue.

Most B&H customers arent aware of that. 

In practice ADI will sell to anybody who is not not an end user. Also I am not sure why HikVision is not going direct to B and H already 


I am not sure why HikVision is not going direct to B and H already

That's an interesting observation / question.

On the one hand, Hikvision USA lists ~30 authorized distribution partners, so it is not as if they are very restricted.

On the other hand, listing B&H would likely result in dealers objecting to Hikvision. Moreover, overall, Hikvision has been trying to stop end user online sales, e.g., Hikvision Europe Cutting Out Unauthorized End User Sales

No doubt, these manufacturer's sales management knows what is happening but, at least, having ADI act as the middleman distances themselves modestly from the actual deal.

I am an end user and buy from ADI regularly when the price is lower than CDW.  The problem is integration companies wanting to charge just under MSRP to organizations like ours with 5-6 Axis and Genetec certified FTEs supporting our 80+ locations.  Why pay national integrator 1 cent under MSRP when I am shipping to myself and configuring it myself when ADI will sell direct for less?

Thanks for your first comment! How did you get approved by ADI? They say they restrict sales.

Honestly I am not sure.  I just reached out to the sales contact that my predecessor had and they just set me right up with an account for their online store.  

To be fair to ADI, all distributors will sell to (and dropship for) B&H and other large online resellers. So If ADI doesn't take the business then another distributor will. This point here not about the right channel policy but that ADI shouldn't be singled out, except for the point that they state they only sell to licensed installers only which everyone know is not true. The type of relationship desribed here exists between all large distributors and all major online resellers. From the standpoint of most manufacturers, they need a way to service the market that does not want or need the services of installers and integrators. And this is by using online resellers. Most large broadline online resellers will comply with MAP at the manufacturers request. This includes B&H and also Newegg, CDW, PC Mall, etc.. MAP usually leaves a 20-30% delta between the online advertised pricing and what integrators should be paying so, from that standpoint, the integrator is protected. The bigger problem is with bottom feeding companies like ELVESsupply who will not comply with MAP but still are able source from distribution at very low prices. B&H is a quality company and is ideal for servicing the online market. They are differentiated in a number of ways. Firstly, they will comply with all manufacturers policies on request. Secondly, they carry stock which is rare for online resellers. When you go to other large online resellers sites and see stock of an item you are actually seeing stock from a distributors EDI feed from which orders will drop ship. B&H also has a brick and mortar store in Manhattan which has a very nice video surveillance product demo center through which tens of thousands of people pass through every year. They have personnel trained in video surveillance. The information on the product listing on there site is excellent and their customer service is great. Sorry to sound like a B&H cheerleader but because of their success  and visibility they also have the biggest target on their back so I thought a few words in their defense is appropriate.

To be fair to ADI, all distributors will sell to (and dropship for) B&H and other large online resellers. 

I stated a variant of just that in the post, to quote myself:

If ADI did not sell to B&H, B&H would certainly find other distributors who would happily sell to them, given B&H's scale.

You claim:

they state they only sell to licensed installers only which everyone know is not true [emphasis added]

Wrong. You are assuming everyone has your knowledge, as a distributor in the industry. I can assure you many, if not most integrators, do not.

As for the positives about B&H, the post is clearly not a criticism of B&H. It is an issue of ADI policy.

Sorry, I should have said "everyone reading this board knows is not true." Which I guess is only about 80% of the installer market... Meant to be funny, no need for counterattack.

No worries! I wasn’t replying to your post, which I’m sure was funny :-). I was just posting to the question they posted. Cheers!

I am not attacking. You made an assertion and it's important for us to reply.

I still disagree that everyone who reads IPVM knows this is true. How are people supposed to know that ADI sells to B&H? Has anyone ever covered this? Is this something that either side publicly acknowledges? No and no.

There have been many posts from members complaining about ADI selling to almost anyone, including end users who are clearly not installers. So I thought this was pretty common knowledge among integrators/installers. Perhaps I was wrong.

However I didn't say that everyone knows ADI sells to B&H. Maybe it is important but this shouldn't be characterized as something particular leading one poster to say they they won't buy from ADI anymore. Saying that "this is not an isolated case" does not convey the reality which is that this is how the entire system works with all distributors selling to and drop shipping to all online resellers. So the only real take away I see here is that ADI should not state that they only sell to licensed installers since it is not true. To discuss whether ADI should sell to the B&H's of this world is just silly.

This is not the only company with this business model. There are a couple of on-line resellers who drop ship directly from ADI. Also, when I worked there, we had several dealers who would drop ship stuff to their customers. 

B&H isn’t doing anything I haven’t done when I wasn’t able or did not want to make the drive to a client’s site to deliver the hardware myself. ADI isn’t selling to the end user. They’re fulfilling the same service to B&H that they offer to all of us. Fair game.

ADI is doing nothing wrong or immoral here. Every distributor that I work with will drop ship for us if needed. If we have a customer out of state, or an equipment only sale, drop shipping saves us a vast amount of time. Now on to B&H... Its the Manufacturer that responsible here. If they allow their Distributors to sell to Non-Partners such as B&H, especially at Partner Level pricing, then they are delegitimizing their own Channel/Partner Program. B&H has always been very competitize, and never abides by MAP, yet they continue to sell for many years running. RSMs from every line B&H offers that we have spoken with all claim they have no idea where they source from, or how to cut them off. I call BS on this. Their supplier and account name now come in every box!?!? And how hard is it trace a serial number? 

Now on to B&H... Its the Manufacturer that responsible here. If they allow their Distributors to sell to Non-Partners such as B&H

I think that is a good point. Thanks for sharing.

I could not agree more.  It is up to us as Integrators to partner with manufacturers that will protect the channel and we will in turn promote their products...assuming the products are of sound quality.  I believe that next to functionality and quality, protecting the channel is the most important factor when considering my product partners.

ADI has a long history of selling direct to end users who are not installers, particularly municipalities with their own maintenance staffs. 

The concept of wholesale distribution is pretty much dead, due primarily to the manufacturers subverting the supply chain.

Recently i proposed a large eaton UPS project and the client was able to get the same equipment through CDW for 15 percent less than my “wholesale” cost through my “wholesale” electrical distributor. 

Any legitimate wholesale distribution model would make that impossible. Yet there it is. 


There is no such thing as 'true' wholesale low voltage distribution that protects those licensed, registered or whatever. If there is please inform who?

I think it comes down to the person, rather than the company. I had a port client that wanted to make a large purchase of cameras, about 200K. They wanted to purchase direct from distribution and bid out the install labor. I referred them to Lee Mehler at Anixter, he refused the business and said the best he could do was refer them to a contractor. The port persisted, and they were ultimately able to find a source. And bought everything at very close to wholesale pricing. I also knew an ADI branch manager (this was in the 90's) who would sell anything to anybody.

Of course there is. For those of us on the higher end, we install ortronics or commscope or Belden structured cabling systems that are only available through wholesale distribution - graybar, anixter,etc ( cant even get stuff like this from ADI, which carries primarily its own captive lower end Honeywell cabling products).

manufacturers reps routinely negotiate and issue project pricing discounts to end users direct knowing that the end user will be purchasing direct from anixter or graybar and not through the electrical contractor or integrator. That makes the “wholesaler” a retailer by any definition.integrators are retailers - we sell to end users. Ergo, the wholesaler is competing directly with the retailer with the help of the manufacturer. 

So the distribution model has become a sham, yet exists in a state of dishonesty. The integrator is the loser here. 

As an end-user there are times I'd like the ease of on-line shopping with a credit card.

Unfortunately for me, B&H Photo and most other well known websites are not authorized to sell Hanwha products (and many other brands) so I assume more risk should a product need to be replaced during the warranty period.


Show me a distributor who isn't an equipment whore. I could really care less what they are up to. Savvy customers can always get their hands on product, sometimes at great pricing.

My theory, if you can't beat them; join them. I've always purchased lots from ADI, but if it's cheaper somewhere else, I'll gladly purchase elsewhere

Now, for a view from the other side - In 1993 I opened and managed the Las Vegas branch of ADI. A gentleman came in and asked if he could buy his cameras direct from us. I asked who he was currently dealing with and he named a company that I knew for a fact only sold stuff that he could buy direct from the manufacturer. As he had no issue with cutting me out of the sales equation, I went ahead and quoted to the guy, and told him he could give his former integrator my name. When the integrator found out why he lost the business, he actually had the nerve to call me and complain, saying me selling to the end-user "just wasn't the right thing to do". When I asked how it was OK for him to go direct and bypass me, but not OK for his client to do the same, he had no answer. Just kept repeating that it wasn't right. Hmmm. A bit of hypocrisy, perhaps? My opinion would be that anybody who buys distribution channel available equipment directly from the manufacturer has no right to complain about distribution selling direct to end users. It is merely the opposite side of the same coin. 

FWIW, I completely disagree with your logic on that.

The security industry has an integrator-centric, not distributor-centric sales channel. Many manufacturers choose to use distributors because it offers them scalability on warehousing/shipping, and removes them from having to extend credit and deal with a lot of outstanding accounts receivable.

How does one manufacturer (or several) deciding not to use distributors for their order fulfillment translate to selling another product direct that actually uses and values your business model?


You didn't understand. For example the specific I integrator I spoke of sold Panasonic and Bosch cameras. Which I had on my shelf. He chose to bypass me and buy direct from the manufacturer, cutting me out of the sales cycle. I had no issue doing the same to him. And from my point of view, your contention that the industry is "integrator-centric" is ludicrous. If anything, it is "customer-centric". 

If the manufacturer offered him a legitimate purchasing option/alternative, how was he "cutting you out"? Are integrators required to buy from distributors simply because the distributors exist? Did you consider that maybe he had reasons other than attempting to slight you personally for buying those products from their respective manufacturers? Also, why would the manufacturers choose to sell direct to integrators if the distributors are so crucial to the supply chain?

From your story, you also make it sound like this occurred relatively soon after the branch opened. Did the integrator have these established relationships with the manufacturers before your branch opened in his area? 

LOL. But what did I do other than offer the same thing to the end-user? Or was me selling to him somehow not legitimate? 

"Are integrators required to buy from distributors simply because the distributors exist?" Gee, I don't know. Replace "integrator" with "end-user", and "distributor" with "integrator" and what's the answer? 

I never took it for a slight, you're kind of jumping to a conclusion that isn't warranted with that. I took it for what it was, an attempt to maximize his profits. You know, to better his income and provide more for his family / business. Same exact thing I did. But it's somehow OK for the integrator but not the distributor. Well, I did mention something about hypocrisy, didn't I...

And yes, it was a couple of months after we opened. But the integrator had been buying from our Reno branch, which was in his same town. It was the end-user that was in Vegas, so perhaps he was only buying from the integrator because there was no local availability



LOL. But what did I do other than offer the same thing to the end-user? Or was me selling to him somehow not legitimate?

So then, you also signed up to be the support department for that customer? When something went wrong with his system you were equipped to dispatch a technician, troubleshoot the installation, swap components if necessary?

"Are integrators required to buy from distributors simply because the distributors exist?" Gee, I don't know. Replace "integrator" with "end-user", and "distributor" with "integrator" and what's the answer?

The answer is that most manufacturers would not/do not endorse direct end-user sales, at least not for small one-off jobs like the one you described, particularly when the end-user already has a relationship with an integrator.


Absolutely not. I sold him boxes. Didn't install, didn't sell an extended warranty, nothing which would obligate me to provide those services. Why would I? It is fairly duplicitous that you would even suggest such a thing. If the part is bad, return it and I will exchange or repair, depending on the manufacturer and their warranty terms. 

And here's more good news - the industry in general is moving more towards this model. In the A&E community there is even an official term for it - OFCI. Owner Furnished Contractor Installed. Happens on more and more projects. But I guess that business is just wrong, huh? LOL. 

Internet / e-Commerce is just bad for some business models. There are end users out there just like some integrators, they will go to any means to save a few bucks.


Fine - Then become a retailer, and sell “owner furnished” devices on the internet or out of your trunk to your hearts content and stop misrepresenting yourself to integrator customers as a wholesale to the trade business. It’s fraudulent. 

You miss things sometimes, don't you? Go back and re-read my posts. I haven't called myself a wholesaler since around 1996. Got tired of the hypocrisy and BS that is so readily apparent in this string. 

Didn't install, didn't sell an extended warranty, nothing which would obligate me to provide those services. Why would I?

Because many manufacturers are rightly concerned that when end-users have problems with their products for whatever reason that those problems are rectified efficiently. Otherwise, a negative experience can tarnish the users image of the brand. If you are not equipped to support the product to the manufacturers expectations, you put their business at risk by subverting their preferred sales hierarchy.

But I guess that business is just wrong, huh? 

Not at all, as long as the manufacturer of the product is open with their approach, and the other participants in the supply chain are open as well. That way everybody can determine what they want to offer (or not), who their actual competitors are, and how to support the customer in general.

Ah, I see. And would those be the same manufacturers who allow their gear to be sold on various web-sites, directly to the end-user? Which, by the way, is about 90% of them. LOL. And the other participants in the supply chain need to approve as well? OK, but once again that leads us right back to the integrator buying directly from the MFG. If I were a distributor, I'd be a participant in the supply chain, and I certainly wouldn't agree with that. But once again, that's different, right? Hypocrisy, pure and simple. 

This falls back on the manufacturer kicking or cutting out the ones that break the rules.

If a website that isnt authorized to sell certain products is indeed selling them, track them down and cut off their supply.

If a Distributor is selling to End Users, and there is an agreement, most likely contractual not to do so, cut off the Distributor. Its all about adhearing to the manufacturers sales policies and strategies, not the policies of a rogue branch manager. Mr. Burman wasn't technically wrong unless ADIs contract with this manufacturer stated no end-user sales. Did he back stab his core customer base walking through his branches door, absolutely, but that was his call.  

I backstabbed nobody. Any client of a customer of mine not only would be refused service, but I would let the dealer know there was a problem. I owe no loyalty to somebody who refuses to do business with me, period. Backstabbed. LOL. That's classic! But seriously, you should sign your name to such statements. Otherwise folks might think you a bit less than ready to stand behind what you say.


Also, "end user" is not a proper noun, and shouldn't be capitalized. And it would be "branch's". I mean, "branches"? Now there is a real LOL!

You're not the Steven Burman, current ADI Denver Branch Manager, are you? 


 <spell check..confirmed>

<grammar check...initialized>

Although yes, I am the Steven Burman, no, I'm a systems designer on the West Coast. But even though I left ADI in 1996, I still get that question constantly. Just a strange coincidence. LOL, if I were the ADI branch manager, I'm not sure I'd espouse the direct selling as I did in this string.

Oddly you seem to not understand that the wholesale distribution model is primarily driven by the manufacturer, who establishes list price and wholesaler price. The integrator buys the product via the method the manufacturer deems appropriate. Whether the integrator buys manufacturer direct or through adi, both are wholesale purchases. So the integrator did nothing wrong. You in the other hand...

This whole thread comes down to one thing that I've been repeating for years: I don't care that distributors sell to end users. I care that they say they don't. Be up front. Let purchasers (whether that's integrators who whoever) decide who they want to buy from based on their channel policies. And that's not what's happening.

LOLOLOLOLOLOL. Nope. Cut me out of business and I have no problem doing the same. There isn't any right or wrong involved, just opportunity. And the fact that you claim there is a difference is exactly why I left the sales side of the industry and became an engineer. Too much hypocritical BS. Just like this. 

I care quite a bit if they sell to end users. Manufacturers encourage and/or require partner programs and integrators make significant investments in training, certification, sales collateral, etc. we lead with these products and lend our credibility to them as part of our trusted advisor status with our clients. 

After all that, if the manufacturer and the wholesaler are colluding to “cut me out” , claiming that nothing matters other than the opportunity to peddle their gear, and undercut my marked up price that covers my investments in the product then that makes this whole damn industry fraudulent doesn’t it. 

Nobody likes anybody cutting them out but nobody likes anybody cutting in on them. 

The channel is always under pressure from every direction to justify itself as the world changes around it.

One things for sure, nobody is in it for love; integrators, distributors and manufacturers are constantly evaluating and realigning their strategies to best serve themselves.

A given manufacturer's strategy may be to support the channel fully and take great lengths to eliminate gray market products.  But still it's just a strategy, and no one should be surprised if and when it's not working so well it weakens or is abandoned.

How long would you take a hit for the channel if it came down to it?

End users, of course, care least about the channel, and are always trying to cut out the middle and deal direct with the vendor, even though it is often unwise.

Heck, they are even trying to cut out the manufacturer these days, via 3-d printing :)

ADI gave me my start in the industry in 1994

today I use them but it is not the Ademco Distribution Incorporated (ADI)

of Pittway days.


when I worked at ADI you never sold to anyone other then a security business 

every day we turned people away 

These days who cares you can buy this or similar at staples 

Commodity products will be sold in a commodity fashion 

manufacturers and distributors move boxes 

integrators need to sell outcomes not boxes. 

ADI is the 7-/11 of security you pay more - but they have it and can deliver

besides rumor is UTC is buying Honeywell.... So Lenel for all.....

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