Liberal Return Policies vs. "has my camera been used?": A way to Solve This

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
ne beginner
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Re: wholesalers and uniform retail pricing
In reply to Eamon Hickey, 2 months ago

Thanks, did not know that "authorized distributor" also meant a direct ship retailer.  Always thought the small independents bought from a wholesaler.  Given that you mention minimums, I wonder of that's why many of these smaller stores were authorized distributors for only a few major bands, and not all?  Are wholesalers involved for smaller items and 3rd party gear?

In my business we use MAP, but specifically do not try to control every day pricing due to several other rulings on that topic, and where we see risk.  We help fund promotional discounts and other trade activity, which may include a MAP, and make it clear that if a retailer goes below MAP on the promoted retail price component,  we will not reimburse them for any of the event cost and discount.  If they deduct, we stop shipping.  Not all manufacturers can do this; depends on the brands you have.     Works for us.  We are not in the camera business, but do have some electronic brands that compete with some of the camera companies in other categories, and we do sell those products to many of the same merchants that sell cameras.

Eamon Hickey wrote:

Just a couple of clarifications, so that you guys can all think about this based on better information:

ne beginner wrote:

Do you mean MAP pricing? Minimum advertised price? Yes, that would make it harder for a large chain to sell a camera or lens for less than the MAP. But that still does not level the playing field.

No, he meant what's sometimes called "uniform retail pricing". About 6-8 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that opened the door to strict resale price maintenance by a manufacturer -- i.e. Nikon can dictate to its dealers a minimum resale price below which the retailer cannot sell, period. (Not advertise; sell). Nikon does do this. They began this practice about 3-4 years after the court ruling. Nikon is not alone, nor were they the first. Many camera and electronics manufacturers are doing it now. Not every product is covered under these programs, but most of the major hard goods (cameras & lenses) are.

MAP is the old, much weaker, price support mechanism. When manufacturers institute uniform pricing programs, they abandon MAP programs, since MAP would be redundant.

The Supreme Court decision that enabled this shift is called Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. Wikipedia undoubtedly has some information on it.

Secondly, in the U.S. legitimate, authorized camera stores have never bought from wholesalers; all the major manufacturers sell direct to their authorized retailers. So every authorized retailer, in theory, has access to the same wholesale prices (obviously, there are nuances). When I was a Nikon sales rep, I had a dozen or so tiny little dealers who did the bare minimum to stay authorized ($10,000/yr. in those days) and I had big chain dealers who did many millions of dollars a year in business. Both placed their orders the same way -- by phoning me or the Nikon USA order desk -- and both worked from the same price list. All the other camera manufacturers operated the same way.

There were some camera wholesalers in the U.S. (undoubtedly still are), but they sold to non-authorized retailers, and they sold gray market and refurbished.

Now I left that job over a decade ago, and there have been some changes in the industry since then, but as far as I know, there has been no major shift to using wholesalers in the U.S. camera industry. Wholesalers do play a central role in distribution in many other U.S. industries but not in cameras, to the best of my information.

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