Conflict between consumer electronics and IT channels has been blamed for Panasonic's decision to restrict discounted pricing on a selection of its key digital products.
Tecksel managing director, Leigh Mutimer, said the distributor no longer had access to discount rebates on Panasonic's range of digital cameras and home theatre projectors.
Mutimer said the IT channel had originally been unable to obtain a competitive discount on Panasonic's range of digital cameras, which had been restricted to its consumer electronic and mass merchant partners. In the second half of last year, however, the vendor had opened up the discounts to IT disties.
It reversed the decision on January 1, according to Mutimer, shutting IT distributors out of the rebate scheme for those products without warning.
"The products went like hot scones in November and December," he said. "We had a really good run. The IT channel has now been placed in a non-competitive buying position overnight."
Mutimer said Tecksel still had access to discounted rates on Panasonic business projectors, plasma displays and traditional IT product lines.
"Where products are available through two channels - IT and consumer outlets such as mass merchants and camera stores - they [Panasonic] want to protect that [latter] channel," he said.
Melbourne-based distributor, Multimedia Technology (MMT), has been a Panasonic partner for about 15 years. Managing director, John Hassall, confirmed the vendor had rejigged its discount structure for wholesalers following conflict between channels but said the changes would not have a detrimental effect on MMT.
"We are probably on best break prices with everything we carry. Some of the other distributors don't have the same access," he said. "Panasonic has reviewed the whole structure and all has changed, but I think we're still in a reasonable position.
"It may be that some distributors were selling more aggressively and causing grief to some of the channel."
A Panasonic spokesperson refused to comment on the changes because it was not company policy to discuss dealer pricing structures. While keen to play down the effect of Panasonic's changes, Hassall said discount levels were an ongoing concern for all manufacturers with convergence products.