When OmegaSatter and the Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group merged in January of last year to form OmegaBrandess Distribution, they created the largest source for accessories in the photo industry. They now offer nearly 50 different product categories and upwards of 12,000 individual SKUs.
“We are a large distributor with a small company feel,” said Jeff Seidel, director of Sales and Service. “The combined catalogs from the two companies present the widest range of profitable products offered by any distributor in the photo industry. And dealers can feel confident that we have their bottom line in mind with the products we feature.
“When we merged, we doubled the number of products we have to offer,” he added. “Our lines now cover everything from film, which we did not offer before, to HD remote monitors. We cover everything from analog to digital. This has made us more of a one-stop shop for most dealers when it comes to photo accessories.”
OmegaBrandess uses a combination of both inside sales reps and independent outside sales reps. No area of the country is without coverage. Seidel explained that their inside sales team covers the accounts where it may not be economically viable for an independent sales rep to travel, or where an acceptable rep is not available. They also call on the small number of dealers who are geographically remote. The outside team handles the rest.
“Our use of outside sales reps has several benefits,” he said. “First and foremost, the photo accessory business is still a ‘show and tell’ world. Dealers buy more products when they can actually put their hands on an item and try it out. There is only so much an image or video on a website can do. Having a rep force that physically calls on the vast majority of dealers on a regular basis is priceless. It would be safe to say that you will find OmegaBrandess products in 99 percent of America’s photo specialty stores, with the emphasis on photo specialty. Our reps are our strength and they provide a personal buying experience for our dealers. Much different than ordering everything you need off of a website.”
Seidel, who recently celebrated his third year at OmegaBrandess, got started in the photo industry as a part-time sales associate at Ritz Camera while in college. During his 26 years at Ritz he served as a district manager, regional manager and director of training. An active photographer himself, he knows the accessory business inside and out.
“Our most successful items come from our core product lines, including Pelican, Kodak, Gary Fong and Zacuto, to name a few,” he told us. “There is a lot of excitement surrounding our newer product lines as well. These new product lines cover both ends of the accessory spectrum. We are the exclusive distributor in the U.S. for the Italian made B-Grip camera belt holder. It’s a stylish product that allows the user to carry their camera securely on the provided belt. A well-designed quick release allows fast access to the camera that is held securely in place, preventing the lens from swinging dangerously about. We’ve also had tremendous success with Texas-based MOD straps. MOD is a manufacturer of designer straps and accessories that appeal especially to female photographers. They add a splash of color to the world of black straps and bags you find in most photo retail stores.
“Another exciting development for us has been our introduction of the Phottix line of photo specialty products to the U.S.,” he added. “This company has a complete catalog of well-made and unique products that are priced very aggressively both at a wholesale and retail level.”
Accessories have long been the real profit makers for most camera dealers. “We pride ourselves on offering dealers a wide variety of accessories that allow them to make profits in a market where camera equipment margins are very thin,” Seidel said. “Some examples include the B-Grip, MOD straps, Pelican soft cases, Novatron studio accessories, Blue Crane digital tutorials, the Orbis ring flash and VisibleDust sensor cleaning products. Of course, good profits can always be found with our staple products of Kodak chemistry and Kalt accessories as well.”
We asked Seidel what retailers can do to boost accessory sales. Being a former director of training, he knows a thing or two about selling techniques. “Dealers need to insist that their counter people focus just as hard on selling the accessories as they do selling cameras and lenses. After all, the profit is in the add-ons! I’m a big believer in metrics—tracking the performance of sales associates’ attachment rate. How many additional items does the average sale for each salesperson include? If you have an associate who only sells the camera most of the time, that person is costing you money.
“Dealers need their customers to leave the store with everything they’ll need to successfully take photographs, including batteries, a flash, memory cards, a case, a DVD tutorial and so on,” he added. “If the dealer can structure the compensation program for their sales staff to reward such behavior, all the better.
“Beyond that, I’m a big proponent of conducting photo classes for customers. This is a great opportunity to have a captive audience, without distractions, to show how to improve various aspects of their photography. Best of all, this provides the chance to recommend specific accessories and have the time to properly demonstrate them. Often this can be facilitated by the dealers’ sales rep for the product lines featured in the class.”
OmegaBrandess participates in as many dealer events as possible. They send either one of their independent reps or one of their inside reps—and sometimes Jeff Seidel himself—to the store to handle the demonstrations.
“We also help to train the dealer’s staff about our products through our reps and via weekly newsletters that spotlight specific products,” Seidel explained. “As a distributor representing many lines, we act as liaison between the dealer and the manufacturer to encourage participation by the vendor in dealer shows or advertising. And we maintain an extensive website, omegabrandess.com, which features all of our products and a dealer locator to help consumers find a dealer to purchase from locally.”
Jeff Seidel and Joyce, his wife of 25 years, have two sons—Devin, 18 and Ryan, 16. “I am an avid photographer, when I have the time,” he confessed. “I have instilled this in my 18-year-old son as well. One of our favorite activities is to go on camping and hiking trips with our SLRs, shooting away and comparing our results later by the campfire. We are very competitive shooters!” omegabrandess.com