Products with pedigree promote profitability

Andrew Wilson- Varilight (3)

Andrew Wilson, pictured, commercial manager at Varilight, reflects on how advising installers to choose products with an established pedigree benefits wholesalers.

With so many imported products competing with established brands in the electrical wholesale market it can be tempting for inexperienced installers to make choices based solely on cost with one eye on the margin they can make re-selling the cheapest products to their clients. It may not be until products fail and call-backs become a regular occurrence that the allure of low cost products fades and the reality strikes home that, generally, “you get what you pay for”.

While cheap prices attract attention with little need for additional marketing, one of the challenges facing manufacturers and wholesalers who are not in the business of competing at the bottom end of the market is to differentiate their brand in a crowded market place. An effective marketing campaign can itself be a costly exercise but is a vital component if a manufacturer is to communicate effectively with installers to explain the reasons why they should choose its products over the competition.

However, there is no substitute for personal recommendation and wholesalers have an important role to play in guiding installers to help them navigate their way through the decision making process. Clearly, installers will not want to pay over the odds but it is important to remind those seeking a bargain that the best value does not necessarily equate to the cheapest prices. Rather, great value is achieved when the customer can buy a quality product at a sensible price.

Technical help desk

In many cases the price differential between the cheapest imported products and those made in the UK is relatively insignificant, certainly when compared with the costs to an installer of repeated visits to the same client to remedy problems with their initial installation. Similarly, the end-user can often overcome troubleshooting issues if they have access to a reputable, locally-based manufacturer’s customer services department and technical helpdesk without needing to call further on their installer’s time.

It stands to reason that the costs of well-considered product and technical design, a robust manufacturing process and comprehensive testing procedures will have a knock-on effect on the final price of a manufacturer’s product. While other factors also affect a manufacturer’s margin, these crucial elements represent a significant cost and this fact alone raises questions over the relative quality of the very cheapest products.

It is also worth pointing out that experience counts for a great deal in producing quality electrical products. Several of the industry’s most successful brands have retained their market position by focusing on developing and manufacturing quality products for many years. Companies with a long history have a great opportunity to tell the story behind their brand and to demonstrate that product pedigree and expertise follows from experience. Brands with a pedigree that is rooted in British manufacturing, such as Varilight’s, are likely to have the well-developed, robust manufacturing processes that are required to underpin quality assurance.


Product testing

Take testing as an example. It is likely that even importers of the cheapest products will be able to produce a general test certificate to support their quality claims. However, in addition to test house approvals, we have a programme of in-house product testing and quality assurance procedures which are an integral part of our manufacturing operation, ensuring that standards are maintained and that product quality consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations.

At Varilight we believe that manufacturing in the UK has further advantages, enabling us to react to market developments more quickly with new technologies (such as our V-Pro LED dimmer series for example) and on-trend decorative finishes. We can also respond more quickly to customer orders or enquiries, especially for unusual or bespoke requirements.

By guiding installers to choose products that are well-designed and perform well for their clients, many benefits accrue for the wholesaler. After all, happy customers are more likely to be repeat customers. By recommending products that can be supplied quickly and that are consistent in quality, supplied by manufacturers who offer effective customer support services, wholesalers can strengthen their own reputations. Not only does this promote customer loyalty but by encouraging installers to trade up to products with a quality pedigree, profitability can be increased as well.