In a decision which will be welcomed by its retailer customers, Canon Australia will close the Canon Store, its direct-to-consumer online retail outlet, at the end of September.
This follows hard on the heels of the shuttering of the Canon Collective photo education business and indicates a change of marketing direction, with a resulting sharper focus on collaboration with local retailers.
‘Of course I am happy they are not competing with retailers,’ a specialist retailer who asked not to be identified told Inside Imaging.
The retailer also noted that ‘Many wholesalers do – many are silo selling, as a money grab, from the hands of retailers. They compete with the retail trade with multiple layers of marketplaces, by selling directly on eBay, Amazon, Catch, plus multiple direct selling brand-centric sites, and Facebook-branded pages with selling links.
‘Even small suppliers are selling directly on eBay, Amazon and their dedicated selling sites.
‘The bottom line is we all do what we have to do to survive.’
He contrasted the trend of wholesalers selling direct with the approach of Australian microphone specialist Rode: ‘Rode channel all their online inquiries through their portal to stores that are direct-linking and promoting their brand.’
In informing retailers of the closure of the Canon Collective business in early August, Aaron Berthelot, Canon Australia’s general manager, Sales, wrote; ‘We see great opportunity in the experience events and workshops hosted by our retail partners and look forward to collaborating with you moving forward to engage our passionate community.’
The decision to close the Canon Store comes at a time when Canon ‘has made heaps of staff redundant’ according to an industry source. Canon has formed a new business unit, Canon Sales and Support Group, ‘a new business division…which strategically merged our Consumer Imaging & Services division (CIS) with our Business Imaging Solutions division (BIS).’
The company will continue to sell products directly to end users at the Canon Experience Centre and at Sun Studios locations in Sydney and Melbourne.
No more reps!
While Canon’s internal structure in itself is of little interest to its retail customers, stripping out the field sales rep role ‘to streamline our relationships with retail partners’ is of greater impact.
‘From 1 September 2020, we will have three field account managers to service the network of stores nationwide and will no longer have traditional field sales roles.
There is no rationale given as to how its ‘retail partners’ (customers) will benefit by dropping sales reps in favour of just three account managers nationally to handle Canon’s network of authorised resellers.
‘Support will be provided to retailers in-person for larger initiatives only with all other access via digital systems (ie, telephone, virtual meetings, etc),’ Aaron Berthelot’s letter explained.
In the letter this week announcing the closure of the Canon Store, Aaron Berthelot wrote; ‘Canon Australia’s new Sales and Support Group (SSG) division is working to strengthen our business by driving greater efficiencies for core functions, and by re-examining the best way to help consumers access our products, services and support.
‘As a result, Canon Australia will cease the operation of our direct to consumer online Canon Store on 30 September 2020 for the foreseeable future and streamline our efforts to further support local retailers in bringing consumers the best value product offers, promotions, services and experiences possible.’
Last orders are set for September 30. Gift cards and vouchers will be accepted until then, along with promotional codes. Canon has already stopped accepting payment for products on backorder.
‘Moving forward, we will drive consumers to consider the value and support available in local retail stores including yours,’ the letter states. It concludes by assuring retailers that Canon remains ‘committed to executing the retail promotional plans that are firmly in place for this year.’
(We approached Canon for extra details on redundancies, etc, but the corporate affairs office declined to comment.)