Retailer to Canon: ‘Where have we failed you?

Peter Michael, managing director of iconic Melbourne photo retailer, Michaels, puts some questions to Canon in response to its launch of a retailing website in competition with its customers:

‘For quite a number of years now, we have worked closely with our major suppliers – sharing sales data, being privy to new releases, working directly with mutual consumers, etc.

In the main, many of our suppliers are working with us towards being partners – in its truest meaning.

It is disappointing to see one such valued partner, being Canon, becoming a direct competitor with today’s unveiling of ‘Buy Now’ on the Canon Australia website.

‘We will continue to work with Canon …. but not quite so closely.’

Even though we have heard the following justifications from Canon previously, they still do not make sense to us:

‘We see the online channel now as an existing channel in the Australian market. We’ve been watching it for a couple of years now and in the last 12 months or so it’s really accelerated. As such, Canon’s position has always been that we need to be where consumers want to buy.’

Our comment: Aren’t we and other retail partners doing this? If not, has Canon indicated deficiencies in their retailer’s offerings online?

‘We’re responding to a rapidly changing retail environment by introducing an online experience that complements our existing retail network and gives those consumers who wish to make their purchases online an option to do so locally,’ McLean said.

Our comment: Aren’t we and other retail partners already providing the consumer with an option to purchase locally online?

‘We are evolving in step with the global marketplace, and we are focused on attracting consumer attention to Canon and the range of options to buy locally.’

‘There’s clearly a need to have a presence where all consumers choose to shop, which now includes the online environment. Ultimately we want all people to be able to choose Canon and buy with complete confidence and in a manner that suits them – whether it is from one of our authorised retail partners or directly from us from our online store.’

Our comment: Is there some evidence/indication that has been shared with the industry indicating that consumers can not buy with complete confidence and in a manner that suits them from the Canon authorised retail partners?

Changing from a partner to being partner/competitor does change our relationship. This degree of change will be dictated by how Canon utilise their direct model.

We will continue to work with Canon …. but not quite so closely. On a weekly basis we have shared our stock and sales data with Canon. Needless to say, we would not share such data with our competitors, now that Canon is in part a competitor – we will no longer share this data.

Today’s The Australian newspaper had an interesting article about Billabong surfwear building its retail presence:

‘So, why incur the market’s wrath through dilutive expansion outside the spectacularly successful wholesale business?

‘Some ..don’t get it, arguing retail is a fundamentally different, and more risky, business, requiring more labour, careful attention to inventory and exposure to profit-sapping discounting. Furthermore, there is the danger of upsetting the lucrative wholesale applecart as Billabong starts to compete with its own retail customers.’

– The same comments apply to Canon’s expansion into retail.’

– Peter Michael,
Michaels Camera Video & Digital

(Canon declined our invitation to address the questions asked by Peter Michael.)


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