Control & Automation

CEDIA Dealers Shouldn’t Trust Amazon as Smart-Home Partner, Says Industry Veteran

Smart-home pros would be 'foolhardy' to trust Amazon's intentions in launching 'Custom Home Services' for CEDIA-certified installers.

CEDIA Dealers Shouldn’t Trust Amazon as Smart-Home Partner, Says Industry Veteran

Chuck Schneider · October 13, 2017

Amazon recently announced a collaboration with CEDIA, the trade association for smart-home pros, to expose online customers to professional installers. Should integrators participate in this new “Custom Home Services Program?” CE Pro contributor and former manufacturers’ rep Chuck Schneider warns integrators to think hard before trusting this online behemoth, which generally sets out to obliterate its erstwhile partners.


I DON'T TRUST AMAZON to do anything less than to continue to disrupt, and then destroy, the competition in every category it encounters. That means the smart home, and the professional installers who serve it — CEDIA-certified installers in the case of Amazon's new "Custom Home Services" program.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Amazon. I genuinely admire Jeff Bezos, placing him in higher esteem than Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and even Bill Gates as the most important captain of the technology revolution.

That said, does Amazon give us any reason whatsoever to trust them? Are the seemingly sincere intentions of the program in our best interest? Amazon’s own history of voracious business behavior (below) answers with a resounding no.

Undaunted and/or foolhardy, if you are a CEDIA member with the proper certifications you can strut your stuff on the web pages of the most powerful company in the history of man.

So many questions. First off, you must decide as to whether or not you want to do this. Think about it. If you’ve spent your career serving aged Porterhouse do you want to open a drive-thru window bagging Big Macs?

If there’s any sort of agreement that requires your signature, find and retain a well-recommended contract law attorney ....

Amazon’s clientele ranges from well-read urban sophisticates to… ah, well… those who are not. Nonetheless they are likely to be equally demanding, equally reluctant to part with their money without good reason and potentially obnoxious pains in the ass.

As Amazon customers (Prime or not), they’ll complain to Amazon customer service for the tiniest reason. In all my Amazon experience as a customer, I’ve never ended up on the short end of a dispute with a third-party vendor, which—in all likelihood—is what you will be. And all this for fewer net dollars.

Still game? All righty then. If there’s any sort of agreement that requires your signature, find and retain a well-recommended contract law attorney who probably won’t be able to negotiate with Goliath to alter any terms you don’t like, but should be able to translate all that legalese into English so you can make an informed decision before signing anything.

More to consider. Are you bringing, and charging for, the gear or are these jobs DIFM with client purchases made from Amazon? Does the customer pay you upfront for the design so you are compensated for the time spent if he backs out?

What about warranties, service or system monitoring after the sale? Will Amazon provide financing through its financial partners?

And lastly, for now, will Amazon require or at least suggest that one of their Smart Home Consultants “tag along” to your job “just to observe”? Don’t scoff. Stranger things have happened.

For example, since you’re part of Amazon Home Services will your crew have to mow the client’s lawn, fold their laundry or do any of the other numerous services listed on the website? Are you sure?

CEDIA Dealers: Doomed to Repeat History?

My thoughts on this CEDIA olive branch aren’t based on mere instinct, admiration or even fear. Rather it’s rooted in a number of historical precedence in the consumer electronics industry.

As a rep back to 1983, I was sitting across the desk from the owner of a five-store home and car audio chain in Connecticut. On his desk was the strangest looking telephone I’d ever seen. When I inquired as to it, he almost lovingly picked it up, put the handset up to his face and said, “This is the future. And the future is going to make me very, very rich.”

He explained that he’d just signed a master distributor agreement with a cell phone carrier, could have been NYNEX or Cellular One or Nextel—all names from the past. As a master distributor, he received a handsome turn-on commission for every new customer and a “residual” commission on the anniversary of every active subscriber. Furthermore, he could set up other retail audio stores as dealers and get a piece of their action as well. Remember, back then phones had to be installed.

Although this does look a little like Amway or Herbalife, the system worked pretty well for the better part of a decade or, until the carriers realized that as the phones got smaller and lighter they didn’t need the install expertise any longer. Activation and residual commissions slowly shrunk to nearly nothing, contracts were not renewed or contained conditions detrimental to the retailer’s business. Carrier-owned showrooms began to dot strip malls everywhere in direct competition to the audio stores.

My friend the store owner in Connecticut never did get rich.

Amazon could buy each and every independent entity in the CE Pro 100 with the change hidden under its sofa cushions. But why pay good money for entities that will wither and die in due time?

About a decade later in 1994 was the first year of DirecTV. Hughes Electronics owned this startup “small dish” satellite service and, at the onset, adopted a go-to-market business model similar to that used by cellular. Retail stores that never got a sniff of cable money jumped at the chance to sell a service that offered better quality picture and sound with more diverse video for the same or often less money than evil cable.

But before you could say ”pixelating in a thunderstorm” DirecTV set up an additional channel of distribution basically wholesaling dishes and set-top boxes to anyone with a wire cutter and a white van. With less overhead, these “distributors” undercut the prices the retailers charged promoting DirecTV authorized introductory packages offering more bang for less buck than the stores could offer. It wasn’t long until the retail programs ended entirely for the few who hadn’t given it up.

Shortly after Y2K, along came what I (at the time) derisively called “pay radio.” Satellite radio providers Sirius and XM battled for both content and subscribers prior to their inevitable merger in 2008. To sign up subscribers, both competitors solicited car audio specialists, who may or may not have sold home products, with a similar commission plan employed by the others. Was this third time the charm? Nope. Bolstered by big venture capital infusions, both soon went direct relying on extensive web and television advertising.

Did Amazon look to these three incidents as it developed its Custom Home Services Program? Who knows. 

What began as an online bookseller in the early days of Internet commerce quickly morphed to a destructive whirlwind that nearly obliterated a retail business model that had stood the test of time since before Columbus set sail for the Caribbean. Next, they delivered the left hook to the audio and video software business while an increase in bandwidth allowed streaming services to deliver the knockout blow.

Either of these businesses makes our industry look like a chain of front-yard lemonade stands. The nearly $14 billion Amazon recently paid for Whole Foods indicates that, if it had a mind to, Amazon could buy each and every independent entity in the CE Pro 100 with the change hidden under its sofa cushions. But why pay good money for entities that will wither and die in due time?

Financial analysts who study Amazon for a living have recently speculated that the sprawling retail behemoth started its Smart Home Services for two reasons. First and foremost, it wants to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Siri and Cortana become bugs on the windshield of Alexa’s Ferrari.

Second, Amazon likely has its eyes on obliterating Best Buy and stomping its Birkenstocks on the necks of the Geek Squad. Although not as imminently terminal as Sears/KMart or Toys R' Us (yet another category leader Amazon has helped bankrupt), Best Buy—a couple of relatively rosy quarters notwithstanding—is still seen by some on Wall Street as a chronic patient in the retail ICU.

But wait, there’s more. With Whole Foods in tow, Amazon now has almost half the number of brick-and-mortar outlets that Best Buy does. It took them no time to put “farm fresh” Echos and Dots (day one in fact) on the end caps of Whole Foods, just down the aisle from the free range chickens. Can a sustainably-raised Sonos and others be far behind?

Remember, Amazon has 11 freestanding book stores (this drips with cruel irony) with more on the horizon. It has pop-up mall stores, a prototype “scan-and-go” store and scheduled warehouses/fulfillment centers the size of Rhode Island coming to a big chunk of vacant land near you. Looking out for the wellbeing of America’s custom installers is nowhere on its to-do list.


Read the Counterpoint: Amazon Is Friend, Not Foe


Amazon Not Out to ‘Serve Man’

When fans of Rod Serling’s iconic TV series The Twilight Zone (1959-1963) are asked to name their favorite episodes, “To Serve Man” from the show’s third season is almost universally on everyone’s top 10 list.

For those who have never seen the episode, it’s really a post-World War II/Cold War nuclear-era, science-fiction update of the Trojan horse tale. A race of 9-foot-tall 350-pound big-headed aliens, called the Kanamits, arrive on Earth with the stated intention of aiding humanity by giving humans access to their advanced technology.

The Kanamits claim they’ve done this for other civilizations throughout the galaxies. Even skeptics are convinced after the alien leader telepathically tells the United Nations General Assembly that the Kanamits will forever end war, famine and human suffering on Earth forever.

He unintentionally leaves behind a book, a Kanamit manifesto, which is given to a team of American cryptographers to decipher. While the humans secretly work on that project, the aliens begin to offer free trips for earthlings to visit the Kanamit planet, which is described as a Utopia.

The humans soon translate the title page. It spells out the seemingly innocent and apparently well-intended “To Serve Man.” This revelation convinces even the translator team to sign up for the trip to a galaxy far away.

As the chief translator is boarding the spaceship, his assistant runs franticly to the boarding area screaming “Don’t get on the ship. I’ve translated the rest of the book. It’s a cookbook.”

After giving the recently announced Amazon collaboration with CEDIA member integrators a lot of thought, I’ve come to an incontrovertible conclusion: Amazon is the extraterrestrial chef de cuisine and CEDIA-certified integrators are the steamship rounds of beef.

Participate at your own peril. With apologies to the late Ron Serling: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension—a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.”

You've just crossed over into the AmaZone.



  About the Author

Chuck Schneider is a freelance writer with a long history in consumer electronics. He started and restarted his award-winning manufacturer’s representative firm - Value Added Marketing - and was also a vice president and general merchandise manager for a multi-regional CE chain, as well as a buyer for Lechmere's (a division of Target). Today, he is a freelance writer. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Chuck at [email protected]

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View Chuck Schneider's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Business · Sales & Marketing · Business Operations · News · Blogs · Alexa · Amazon · Best Buy · Echo · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by jds018 on October 15, 2017

@HTE
If you are a custom integrator please review the new custom program. It’s vastly different than the current claim based program you are referring to in your pricing models. As Dan Q from Amazon discusses in Jason Knott’s recent post, Amazon’s take will hover around 10 points for custom projects that we get to design, specify, sell, integrate & service. And again, if the CEDIA members of this program price their work accordingly, we should all be able to realize our normal spreads on Equipment, Parts and Labor sold as part of these custom installations. There is an opportunity here to sell our channel specific specialty products and brands. Once those doors are opened it will be very interesting to see the types of projects that come through. I suspect there will be some customers out there that will spend a lot of money. Yes, we want that business.
We don’t make a living off of the small filler jobs you are referring to in your examples. We are happy to leave the majority of those thin margin projects for the full time trunk slammers out there. We just don’t want those guys quoting projects in the custom program. That will hurt everyone.

Posted by Home Technology Expert on October 15, 2017

JDS018

Installers who take on Amazon referrals will always be waiting until next time to make a better sale

Here’s what I mean

1. Amazon prices a $100 job at $70 and pays out the installer $60. Also Amazon sells the product to the customer.
Well at least the installer got his/ her foot in the door right?

If (and that’s a big IF) the customer refers any of their friends directly to the installer, the friend will expect the same $70 price for the job and buy the product from Amazon.

2. Most likely what will happen is that the friend who got referred will also go to Amazon and make the purchase and Amazon will refer another third-party installer from the list.

Customers that buy from Amazon will continue to initiate their purchases from Amazon because they have confidence that Amazon will make them happy if they have any problems with the product or the installation from the installer.

Third-party installers that do business under the Amazon umbrella at the end of the day are being controlled on what they charge for their service and how much they receive.

Furthermore Amazon Dictates what third party installers are allowed to offer because Amazon employees also install smart home.
And the services that Amazon employees can do will only grow overtime. To what end?
The answer is simple to what end. It’s at the point where the project is just too custom or it is not profitable to do so.

My suggestion is to create referrals from satisfied clients that paid $100 for the job in the beginning and bought the product from the installer.

This will allow the installer to have better margins, a direct relationship with the client, and the ability to give a higher level of service after the sale.
The better margins will translate to hiring extra help or having better marketing to acquire a bigger book of business.

Once you take the Amazon drug and get hooked on it ,it will be difficult to get rid of it because all of your clientele will be programmed by the way that they make their purchases and what the so-called price should be for projects.

Posted by jds018 on October 15, 2017

@HTE
You too make some valid points and I’m not sure anyone has it exactly right.. not even Amazon.
I wouldn’t call it “riding a wave” as much as I would say that this is a simple way to keep our competitors close. Think about it, if the Amazon custom program is only going to use CEDIA members with advanced certifications, I would hope that the custom quotes coming from my competitors maintain the margins we need to operate profitably. The smart home mass market is growing at an unbelievely fast rate thanks to voice control platforms and simple home services provided by Amazon. This new program should be viewed as our ‘welcome mat’ to custom. Any chance I can have a member of my staff invited inside someone’s home, even through Amazon, I consider that a qualified lead and a potential bigger sale down the road… so those hang and bang opportunities allow us to promote our brand, and when Amazon features my brand on their website, I’ll have another opportunity to sell my services to that same customer (or one of their friends) when they want something more involved. My company needs to grow our service offerings to survive. The new Custom AHS program appears to be another way for us to do just that.

Posted by Home Technology Expert on October 15, 2017

JDS018 has also some great insight as a current Amazon third party integrator essentially suggesting to “ride the wave.”

Amazon will take over what they want whether we like it or not and anything too custom will be left alone for the Cedia channel.
Also goes on to say that Amazon makes for great fillers for installers.

I would challenge this binary thought process.
If you have too many consistent gaps that need to be filled consider decreasing your staff.
Lower volume better margin quality projects serves both the Business and the clients with more VIP service.
If you do not want to let go of staff then reevaluate and grow your book of business without Amazon.  If you cannot do it without Amazon then go back to “less is more” suggestion.

Amazon started with only employees doing free consults and no installing.
They relied on third party installers setting their own prices.

Now Amazon is doing many of their own installs and determining pricing for third parties for below market.

No one can deny the facts. The are uptrending on their offerings and dictations.
At what point will they stop? The ultra $250k and up projects?

Amazon will and is encroaching into mass and mid high end of the market.

Differentiate yourself and succeed profitably with a great work life balance or survive and fill in the gaps as JDS018 suggests.

Food for thought

Posted by jds018 on October 15, 2017

A third of Amazon’s overall retail biz comes from small businesses who affiliate with their marketplace. And most of those small businesses purchase items from Amazon for their families and businesses. Do you honestly believe that Amazon is going to shut this market down for third party retailers? The same holds true for services. There is slim chance Amazon can self employ every trade, including experienced custom integrators like ourselves, and manage the types of complicated projects we do in every single zip code. Sure, Amazon most certainly wants a piece of this added high-end business, and make sure their Alexa platform is included which each install, but again, what’s so bad about us servicing this customer as long as we are maintaining our specialty product & margins? Every early indication (reading Jason’s interview with Dan Q at amazon) is that this will be the case. We currently do the small hang and bang projects through AHS and they are great time fillers for our staff when there is a gap in our service schedules. They don’t pay rack rate but we do get paid quickly, without any hassles.
I’ll say it again folks, if Amazon doesn’t hit critical mass with the CEDIA integrator, they will find other means to gain affiliates, and this could mean an undesirable competitor could slip in and hurt our local markets. They are going to do this with or without us and they will make it work one way or another. I have great faith in that.

Posted by Home Technology Expert on October 14, 2017

Great article Chuck Schneider.
And thank you Aaron.mpav for giving real examples from an Amazon third party home services provider.  Aaron confirms the preset low ball retail pricing and back end monthly charges and commission rates.  Not only does the low payouts and hoops you have to jump to get paid from Amazon make it not worth it but the fact that they are continuing to grow their in-house Amazon smart home services to compete against us is too compelling to not help Amazon.

Posted by jds018 on October 14, 2017

Amazon, until now a home theater service bottom dweller that barely touched the CEDIA market channel, now wants the high-end biz too. The notion that we would have to come down a notch to serve a high end Amazon customer in this new marketplace may not be the case. If the preferred integrators that affiliate in this channel uphold the quality and business standards we have practiced in our tiny referral worlds until now, I don’t believe we need to sacrifice any part of our business. Why should we turn down the opportunity to make our phones ring more so we can provide our outstanding services to high-end Amazon customers? That sounds a lot better than sitting on the sidelines relying solely on our traditional referral streams and crappy marketing efforts that might soon dry up because Brand A and my current competitors that do decide to affiliate may take them away from me. Maybe we just have to refine our prequalifying skills some but I have a feeling Amazon will help shed a good light on our value as a high-end service provider so we don’t waste our time visiting too many tire kickers. This is a healthy discussion so I hope to hear from more from other quality integrators that are seriously considering this program and not just the naysayers.

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on October 14, 2017

@jds018 - I think this brings up another point, though.  Amazon tends to address the lower-end of these services.  Some companies are already perfectly positioned for this and should certainly see Amazon as simple, easy lead-gen.  But the higher-end firms, rather than risk distraction trying to come down mark (which was one of the scenarios Chuck alluded to), they should focus and double down on the higher end market by focusing on service and the relationship.

Posted by jds018 on October 14, 2017

Most likely your customers love Amazon as much as mine do. As irreplaceable as we believe ourselves to be at the moment, in this fine ripe economy, don’t think for a second our customers won’t be tempted to sway when their Prime membership eventually includes some iteration of personalized smart home services & support. Even if it doesnt exactly match the level of service we provide today you can bet it will be marketed that way. And if anyone can figure out a way to make it even better it will be Amazon. Evolve your business to include your Amazon Home Service division now or someone else in your market will and your loyal customers may soon begin to disappear.

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on October 14, 2017

Chuck - fantastic article.  Thank you for taking me so far beyond the headline in your writing.

I agree that cozying up to Amazon doesn’t necessarily spell out success for anyone.  But merely remaining independent doesn’t mitigate that risk either.  What’s necessary for those who plan on thriving in this new world is to establish an irreplaceable relationship with the client.  This means becoming a service-focused business that is capable of meeting the ongoing, everyday technology needs of a family and establishing yourself as a Technology Manager as opposed to a smart-home installer.

Regardless of what Amazon does, there will always be room for the high-end service provider with a personal touch and premium quality experience.  The technology will get simpler, cheaper, and easier to install, but the ongoing management of it will always benefit from a local professional who can manage it effectively.  For those integrators looking for a way to differentiate from Amazon, they should consider transitioning to a service-led model that does the one thing Amazon can’t - maintain a personal relationship with the client.

View all comments.

Posted by Musicm080 on October 13, 2017

This is not a stretch of thimagination or the words of a jaded industry insider. This is factual evidence accumulated by the long-term history of an astute CE professional. And I can confirm(being one myself).These are the days of “gotchas” at every turn. And our ambivalence towards 800 lb gorilla companies. So caveat emptor-it means us!

Posted by Musicm080 on October 13, 2017

This is not a stretch of the imagination or the words of a jaded industry insider. This is factual evidence accumulated by the long-term history of an astute CE professional. And I can confirm(being one myself).These are the days of “gotchas” at every turn. And our ambivalence towards 800 lb gorilla companies. So caveat emptor-it means us!

Posted by aaron.mpav on October 14, 2017

This is not only not a stretch but an unfortunate reality I have been on Amazons home servicrs platform for 2 years now and they used to iffer people the option of receiving custom bids but have since phased that out and are currently only allowing services that Amazon has preset prices for which they also take 15% of total job cost for tly have instances of not paying some.providers due to bugus consumer complaints, dont allow you to get consumer info prior to day of appt also charge monthly to be on their platform… the negatives heavily outweigh the positives in every instance. In my area they list TV mounting for.instance for as low as 89$ with the provider supplying the mount require an outlet to be installed behind TV and wires concealed and amazon pays for nothing except having you be a provider and oh yeah they choose who gets the job. So they send notification a job is available you can choose to claim it but then they select who they give the job too they choose the price the works to be completed at they choose the appt time they charge you if an appt is missed even if it is consumer that doesnt show up on time its crazy dont do this I promise you its all very bad and they are just trying to drive prices to the normal pennies on the dollar as amazon does with everything all the while saying its to help grow your business in all reality they are already staffing for the same jobs with there own technicians this is a ploy to.charge you to take your business in the long haul.

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on October 14, 2017

Chuck - fantastic article.  Thank you for taking me so far beyond the headline in your writing.

I agree that cozying up to Amazon doesn’t necessarily spell out success for anyone.  But merely remaining independent doesn’t mitigate that risk either.  What’s necessary for those who plan on thriving in this new world is to establish an irreplaceable relationship with the client.  This means becoming a service-focused business that is capable of meeting the ongoing, everyday technology needs of a family and establishing yourself as a Technology Manager as opposed to a smart-home installer.

Regardless of what Amazon does, there will always be room for the high-end service provider with a personal touch and premium quality experience.  The technology will get simpler, cheaper, and easier to install, but the ongoing management of it will always benefit from a local professional who can manage it effectively.  For those integrators looking for a way to differentiate from Amazon, they should consider transitioning to a service-led model that does the one thing Amazon can’t - maintain a personal relationship with the client.

Posted by jds018 on October 14, 2017

Most likely your customers love Amazon as much as mine do. As irreplaceable as we believe ourselves to be at the moment, in this fine ripe economy, don’t think for a second our customers won’t be tempted to sway when their Prime membership eventually includes some iteration of personalized smart home services & support. Even if it doesnt exactly match the level of service we provide today you can bet it will be marketed that way. And if anyone can figure out a way to make it even better it will be Amazon. Evolve your business to include your Amazon Home Service division now or someone else in your market will and your loyal customers may soon begin to disappear.

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on October 14, 2017

@jds018 - I think this brings up another point, though.  Amazon tends to address the lower-end of these services.  Some companies are already perfectly positioned for this and should certainly see Amazon as simple, easy lead-gen.  But the higher-end firms, rather than risk distraction trying to come down mark (which was one of the scenarios Chuck alluded to), they should focus and double down on the higher end market by focusing on service and the relationship.

Posted by jds018 on October 14, 2017

Amazon, until now a home theater service bottom dweller that barely touched the CEDIA market channel, now wants the high-end biz too. The notion that we would have to come down a notch to serve a high end Amazon customer in this new marketplace may not be the case. If the preferred integrators that affiliate in this channel uphold the quality and business standards we have practiced in our tiny referral worlds until now, I don’t believe we need to sacrifice any part of our business. Why should we turn down the opportunity to make our phones ring more so we can provide our outstanding services to high-end Amazon customers? That sounds a lot better than sitting on the sidelines relying solely on our traditional referral streams and crappy marketing efforts that might soon dry up because Brand A and my current competitors that do decide to affiliate may take them away from me. Maybe we just have to refine our prequalifying skills some but I have a feeling Amazon will help shed a good light on our value as a high-end service provider so we don’t waste our time visiting too many tire kickers. This is a healthy discussion so I hope to hear from more from other quality integrators that are seriously considering this program and not just the naysayers.

Posted by Home Technology Expert on October 14, 2017

Great article Chuck Schneider.
And thank you Aaron.mpav for giving real examples from an Amazon third party home services provider.  Aaron confirms the preset low ball retail pricing and back end monthly charges and commission rates.  Not only does the low payouts and hoops you have to jump to get paid from Amazon make it not worth it but the fact that they are continuing to grow their in-house Amazon smart home services to compete against us is too compelling to not help Amazon.

Posted by jds018 on October 15, 2017

A third of Amazon’s overall retail biz comes from small businesses who affiliate with their marketplace. And most of those small businesses purchase items from Amazon for their families and businesses. Do you honestly believe that Amazon is going to shut this market down for third party retailers? The same holds true for services. There is slim chance Amazon can self employ every trade, including experienced custom integrators like ourselves, and manage the types of complicated projects we do in every single zip code. Sure, Amazon most certainly wants a piece of this added high-end business, and make sure their Alexa platform is included which each install, but again, what’s so bad about us servicing this customer as long as we are maintaining our specialty product & margins? Every early indication (reading Jason’s interview with Dan Q at amazon) is that this will be the case. We currently do the small hang and bang projects through AHS and they are great time fillers for our staff when there is a gap in our service schedules. They don’t pay rack rate but we do get paid quickly, without any hassles.
I’ll say it again folks, if Amazon doesn’t hit critical mass with the CEDIA integrator, they will find other means to gain affiliates, and this could mean an undesirable competitor could slip in and hurt our local markets. They are going to do this with or without us and they will make it work one way or another. I have great faith in that.

Posted by Home Technology Expert on October 15, 2017

JDS018 has also some great insight as a current Amazon third party integrator essentially suggesting to “ride the wave.”

Amazon will take over what they want whether we like it or not and anything too custom will be left alone for the Cedia channel.
Also goes on to say that Amazon makes for great fillers for installers.

I would challenge this binary thought process.
If you have too many consistent gaps that need to be filled consider decreasing your staff.
Lower volume better margin quality projects serves both the Business and the clients with more VIP service.
If you do not want to let go of staff then reevaluate and grow your book of business without Amazon.  If you cannot do it without Amazon then go back to “less is more” suggestion.

Amazon started with only employees doing free consults and no installing.
They relied on third party installers setting their own prices.

Now Amazon is doing many of their own installs and determining pricing for third parties for below market.

No one can deny the facts. The are uptrending on their offerings and dictations.
At what point will they stop? The ultra $250k and up projects?

Amazon will and is encroaching into mass and mid high end of the market.

Differentiate yourself and succeed profitably with a great work life balance or survive and fill in the gaps as JDS018 suggests.

Food for thought

View all comments.