Say it Isn't So

I just got an email from the Olympus on-line store about the OM-D: "pre-order now." 

Do you really want dealers, Olympus? 

Here's the thing, the OM-D is almost certainly going to be sold out on day one. By adding Olympus' own online store to the pre-order frenzy, all that does is reduce cameras that would go to dealers. Indeed, when the dealers see the manufacturer promoting the purchase of cameras before they can even get their own dealer order in, they start to wonder why they're buying from someone who wants to be in competition with them. Dealers have a limited budget to stock inventory. They'll tend to move that money to products that they think they can sell the easiest, and away from products where they feel that they don't have sales support. 

If you want dealers, you have to funnel demand and customers to them, not try to beat them to the order. 

Unfortunately, this is turning into a microeconomics game at most camera companies. They get, on average, 15% less money from a dealer than they do from a customer. It doesn't cost them 15% to fulfill an online order. Here in the US where the dollar keeps sliding against the yen, grabbing that extra profit helps drive the subsidiary's profit, so they see it as an easy decision. Then they wonder why they don't have as many dealers as they used to.

You have to know what business you're in and who you're really trying to sell to. If you don't, there are unintended consequences that start piling up.

Update: just heard from one dealer that's not going to order from Olympus moving forward because this was the straw that broke the camel's back. In other words, I'm not wrong on this, it's a real problem (unless, of course, Olympus wants to only sell via Amazon, B&H, and direct).

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