Where End User Purchase Surveillance - Stats

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 30, 2012

One of the biggest decisions surveillance end users make is how to buy their systems. Traditionally, integrators were the primary source but aggressive distributors and internet buying have opened up other options. In this note, we examine the results of our recent survey of end user and specifically ask them: "How do You Buy Surveillance Products?'

Poll Question

The chart below depicts the answers from 60 end users responses:

Disclaimer

Our survey responses primarily came from rich first world countries and mostly using large systems of 100+ cameras. As such, the group is skewed to higher end, more 'elite' users. Also, since they responded online, this group is more likely to use the Internet to cut costs, buy direct, etc.

These numbers are unlikely to represent the overall industry but may represent emerging trends. Carefully consider how applicable this is to your situation.

Key Takeaways

Here are the key drivers for each group:

  • Buy from Integrators: Driven by regulation, system complexity, or convenience.
  • Buy from Distributors: Save money when they have their own forces to install and support product. 'Buying Direct' allows them to cut out the middlemen and procure equipment more cheaply by avoiding an integrator's markup.
  • Buy from a Mix of Sources: Prefer to 'shop around' on a case by case basis for the best value. Many in this group describe using integrators for large projects, but making smaller purchases directly from distributors.

Buy from Integrators

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Responses in this group cite the 'value proposition' of integrators as the primary reason for making the choice. Typically, integrators resell equipment as part of a larger effort in installation, configuration, and maintenance of surveillance systems. Many respondents noted that they prefer to buy through integrators because it reduces their overall burden:

  • "I don't want to install it, I don't want to warrant it and I don't want to service it, I've got enough to do."
  • "Service and warranty issues all in one stop."
  • "I typically buy through our integrator because then I get their assistance in chosing the correct product for our needs as well as their support with the product. I know I pay more for it this way, but I'm ok with that."
  • "I like working with an Integrator because we can work together as a team to come up with the best solution based on the purpose and available budget."
  • "A local integrator has a good reputation and has been very receptive to meeting our needs while understanding our tight budget constraints."
  • "Installing such devices is not (and will not be one of) our core competencies so we use an integrator."
  • "We use integrators/installers to do our design, layout and installations."
  • "Our surveillance systems in our casino properties are quite complex and require a systems integrator."
  • "Our integrator has been a great partner for us over the last several years and have been a tremendous resource as our system has grown and changed. Through working together, they have developed an understanding of our business and I have gained a greater understanding of CCTV systems and surveillance."
Still others mention they are required to buy through integrators as a matter of government procurement regulation. 
  • "State regulations for open bids."
  • "Government must buy from integrator/installer."
  • "Our purchase system requires open bidding." 

Interestingly, one end user cited resell authorization limitations of certain lines as the reason they buy from integrators.

  • "We have grown to appreciate the quality and cost point of Avigilon cameras and must purchase them from authorized re-sellers."

While a single data point is not significant, one of the most hotly debated practices is to resell product exclusively through approved integrators or installers. The full impact of these policies cannot be determined by this survey, however 60% of the responses chose to buy 'uncontrolled' products all or part of the time. In the groups that follow, we investigate that majority.

Buy from Distributors

These responses are focused on 'bottom line' acquisition because they have internal resources for installation and support. These users choose to be independent of integrators, and do not have to pay additional markups on purchases.

  • "The number one reason is cost. Additionally, I'm concerned that integrators tend to be biased toward one manufacturer or another. Buying directly from a dealer allows me to buy exactly what I need for a particular location."
  • "Better pricing."
  • "We have saved over $85,000 by installing easy and small IP cameras. That savings includes many old PTZ replacements with still cameras."
  • "Have used installer previously but with have the expertise in-house to do it ourselves just as well or better."
  • "We handle all of our installs ourselves and buy through dealers whom we have contracts with."
  • "We deal directly with Distributor/Dealer when possible."
  • "We have our own IT Department that installs"
  • "We do a lot of the installation and integration ourselves with our volunteer force."
  • "If I am buying one or two IP cams to supplement an existing system I will buy them online from whomever is selling them the cheapest. Any issues I run into with IP cameras can be handled in-house by myself, IT team or the network team. We have found that once an IP camera is up and running (the majority of the time) we have no further issues with it."

Users in this group are atypical in the sense they have trained staff available to perform installation work themselves.

Buy from a Mix of Sources

Responses in this category play 'both sides of the fence' as their needs dictate:

  • "We specify our cameras, network equipment and other VMS system components rather than relying on integrator recommendations or offerings. This requires us to buy from multiple sources. Not ideal, but we have not found a single integrator that can adequately support our legacy systems and current VMS needs."
  • "Repairs and smaller installations can be purchased through a distributor. Larger installations require contracts resulting in integrators/installers."
  • "Depending on the size of the project we may opt to use an integrator or at times install and integrate ourselves."
  • "Integrators/installers on new projects. Dealers for maintaining existing system."
  • "On large purchases we run an RFP. For adding small amounts of cameras we can go direct to a distributor and install them ourselves."
  • "Either, depending on price or convenience"
  • "It all depends on the project. If I am doing a new building and need a turnkey solution I will use an integrator/installer. If I am buying a few cams for replacement I will buy them online."
  • "On large installations, we have a dealer conduct the transaction for ease of repairs during warranty periods. On smaller installations, we install to keep the cost down."
  • "Depends on which option is the cheapest and easiest to work with."
  • "I can shop around for the best price."
  • "I trust my Integrator, but buying from multiple sources gets me the best deals."

A significant percentage of end users report they solicit integrators for large, complex purchases or when internal labor is not available to perform work. However, they elect to buy equipment directly in modest amounts or for simple projects performed by their own forces. The responses acknowledge the value in having both options open depending on the scope of the purchase.

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