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Dealers thin on the ground at The Digital Show

Jeff Servaas, whose company PROtog had a high-profile and busy exhibition stand at The Digital Show, responds with some observations to last week’s review of the show:

Jeff-ServaasI agree IDEA/PMA needs to work out what their aim is; either a focus on the consumer, or provide value to the trade.

We are a small distributor, we don’t have a national sales team, so our main aim for the show was to find new dealers. Our products had a very warm response from the general public, but we saw few dealers, despite the DEALERS WANTED banner on our booth. How do we get dealers to engage?

It surprises me that store owners don’t attend the one Aussie industry trade show to search out new sales opportunities. With the stores being squeezed for margin from the main camera suppliers, finding new margin opportunities must be important for staying profitable. So why do they attend a Camera House convention rather than the trade show – are they more interested in learning retail strategies rather than being the photographic experts in their area?

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PROtog received a warm response from show-goers, but few of them were retailers.

I note a lot of the smaller distributors did not exhibit this year. Canny retailers like to visit the smaller stands to seek out those new products which help them stand out from the crowd. If there aren’t enough smaller exhibitors, the show has less appeal to them. But exhibiting is a significant cost for a small distributor. If IDEA/PMA cannot market The Digtial Show as ‘trade’ show to the store owners, then the show is a consumer show. Keen enthusiasts want to see what is new – maybe more so than most dealers? But if their local camera shop is not keeping up with the new products, they will take their money elsewhere. Let’s not give our potential customers more reason to take the offshore-online path.

Aligning the timing of the buyer group conventions with the show is a great strategy if it means higher dealer attendance. That can only be healthy for distributors and dealers.

Yes, we sell from the show floor, at full retail prices. We also had some show specials which we also made available to our dealers. None of our dealers carries our full range, so selling direct is the only way consumers can access much of the PROtog product range we import. In a small market like Australia, making specialised products available locally is good for the consumer.

But after the limited response from retailers at The Digital Show, I can’t work out whether retailers want to sell the high-margin niche products, or only the low-margin fast moving lines.
– Jeff Servaas, PROtog
Jeff Servaas is managing director of PROtog, a Melbourne-based distributor offering a broad range of professional/advanced amateur products to Australian retailers. A relative new kid on the distribution block, PROtog has since 2006 built on its initial Powerex AA battery and charger range and is now the Australian importer and distributor for a large range of brands including 3 Legged Thing tripods, Kupo Grip equipment, Jinbei portable and studio lighting equipment, LEDGO LED light panels, Varavon sliders and camera cranes, Spider Holsters, PROLUX studio equipment, Nest Tripods, and Fancier video tripods. To visit the PROtog website, click here.




  1. Tim Tim October 3, 2013

    Hi Jeff. There were a number of people like you at the show and that is great. Us photo dealers wander around and I guess we wonder whether we can make a margin with products that many pros would buy direct.

    • Phil Phil October 4, 2013

      Jeff, in days gone by I would be desperate to finish by Sunday visiting all suppliers old and new, this year it was over by midday on day one. I saw one supplier that I needed to and the rest of the time is was networking with attendees, home Saturday. I should have looked further but usually I would have a list of suppliers from the show site or in days gone by the printed press. This year there was no list of suppliers and contacts rather a page of logos most with links back to the manufacturers website. I think that Idea is more interested in the AIIP than in retailers and I can understand this especially with Camera House deciding not to support the show or the PMA conference.

    • Brian Mckinnon Brian Mckinnon October 4, 2013

      Hi Tim, Brian Mckinnon here. Hope you are well. Healthy margins are available to a reseller. I will contact you with some information. BM

  2. Kerwin Ross Kerwin Ross October 16, 2013

    I could not see any compelling reason to visit PMA as a trade show this year. It’s no longer viable to attend other than a powwow social event. After attending shows for the last 18 years I’m disheartened to see this demise. I always look for a reason to attend to see we’re on track or ahead of the pack. From here on I will row my own boat…

    • PG PG October 17, 2013

      Kerwin perhaps the “powwow” is what it is about , those who attended the PMA sessions were more than satisfied with the return on investment and time, the show was a bonus, for some.

  3. Matt Makinson Matt Makinson October 17, 2013

    Agreed, the Show certainly has changed over the last 20 years I’ve been going. Networking and discussing and resolving issues seems to take up a larger part of my time rather than purchasing new machines. I still get my money’s worth not to mention inspiration to improve.

  4. Alan Alan October 17, 2013

    Agree with Matt. We really enjoyed the networking, and certainly got some good points out of the presentation, and we are about to launch into a couple of new ideas after getting some “stuff” from vendors at the trade show. We are also lucky being members of the IPIU group where we get to see even more “stuff” at their trade show in the middle of the year in Vegas. And if I could afford the airfare to get to PMA@CES, I go to that too!!!!!

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