Mega-OEMs vs Micro-Relabelers

By John Honovich, Published Aug 04, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Manufacturers like Dahua are sold under dozens, if not hundreds, of aliases in the United States alone. Companies doing it range from two stoners in their basement to Fortune 100 corporations (e.g., Honeywell).

But are there any differences between them? And are there any risks? This debate arose recently when we exposed a 'manufacturer' who is really an integrator relabeling Chinese cameras.

We believe that there are significant differences and more end user risks in going with micro-relabelers. Inside this post, we explain why and how.

Integrators vs End Users

The risk is for end users, not integrators. As one integrator aptly summed it up:

"It's a win/win to me."

The 'loss' is for end users.

Why Integrators Want Micro-Relabelling

Margins are low and declining. 'Everyone' offers the same products. It is hard to make money and stand out.

One solution? Add your own label to someone else's product and claim it as your own. Now you have something 'unique' or rare that you can add some marketing magic. "Dahua? That's junk. SuperReLabelCam of Dahua? Awesome."

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Spec Games With Micro-Relabelers

Integrators relabeling cameras will often use their private label part numbers in specs. This makes competitors spend more time researching their cameras in order to propose equivalents. In some cases, the spec may even be written as no substitutions allowed, even though another integrator may propose the original manufacturer's camera or the exact same model from another OEM.

Easier Than Ever

The Internet has made it easier than ever for any integrator, dealer or guy off the street to get cameras re-labelled. Not too long ago you actually had to go to China. Now, Chinese spam emailers are happy to offer you this every day from the comfort of your computer.

Inherently Deceptive

Almost all re-labelers work hard to hide the original source. Why? Obviously, if most buyers knew that SuperReLabelCam was just vanilla Chinacam, the magic would be gone, the premium would erode and most would simply look to buy directly from the source, many of whom sell directly globally.

Mega-OEM Advantages

Lots of large companies OEM from Chinese manufacturers. Some of the most famous are Honeywell (e.g., HQA), ADI (e.g., W-Box), FLIR / Lorex, Interlogix, to name just a few big brands.

They generally bring a number of advantages compared to their micro-relabeler counterparts:

  • Tech / customer support: Typically they have dedicated organizations to provide this to their large customer base.
  • Long term support: You can be fairly confident that they are going to be in business for years to come if you have issues, need replacements, etc.
  • Honoring warranties: Because they are going to be around for the long term and because they need to protect their overall brand / business, they are high likely to honor warranties.
  • Quality assurance: They buy / OEM hundreds of thousands of units, which means they typically can afford / justify internal QA to identify problems and rectify product issues.
  • Documentation: These companies generally have websites filled with appropriate datasheets, manuals, new software / firmware versions, etc.
  • Wide availability: If you ever need replacements or expansion, you can buy most of these products all over the place and be confident that other integrators will support them.

Micro-Relabeler Disadvantages

By nature of their far smaller size, micro-relabelers are much less likely to provide the offerings above. You might have one or two guys who know the product well, but not a dedicated department. Even with someone inside the micro-relabeler who is knowledgeable, they are unlikely to have time to do deep QA and develop documentation, nor can their small purchasing power influence their supplier. Moreover, the likelihood that micro-relabelers are still in business or the same business years later is much lower than mega-OEMs.

For end users, getting support for mega-OEMs is far more likely than for micro-relabelers, as there is much more known and far greater availability for a Honeywell than a HiDef Tech.

Real Manufacturers Typically Best

All this said, the best choice for most end users is buying directly from the 'real' manufacturer (e.g., Axis, Hikvision, Dahua, Avigilon, etc.). Like mega-OEMs, these are typically large organizations with long-term support. Even better though, because they are the real manufacturer, they generally know and are more able to fix problems than what a third party like a mega-OEM Honeywell can do.

Integrators Build Your Own Real Brand

Though it can be tempting to create a fake brand and try to trick people into valuing that, it is deceptive and preys on the foolish. Worse, given the power of the Internet to expose these tricks, it is hard to maintain and scale.

Rather than pretending to be a manufacturer, work harder to build your own brand as a leading expert, so people can better justify paying a premium for you and your services, not a Chinese camera with your home made logo.

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