MAGAZINE: Asking the right questions helps to educate customers and suppliers alike

Awareness and education are key aspects of market transformation, and there are now a number of tools to help improve the purchasing process, writes Brian Owen.

I was recently the recipient to the following email. Contact details have been omitted, and punctuation has been corrected, but not the grammar:

“To whom it may concern, I have something special to introduce to you, led street lights. I heard that you have an interest in Led lights. I’ve have the privilege of bringing into this country some of the best made, most efficient, flood and street led lights ever built. I’ve helped in the development creativity and the marketing exposure. I would like to introduce a web site to you, which has all the necessary information available, for evaluation of many applications of the led light fixtures, our specialty are our led street lights. The lights can do the talking for themselves. With your extended interest in led lamps, you will be able to recognize parking lot, street, and highway and other applications for our lights, also we have office ceiling panels very quality product. I’m hoping that you feel a need to install a sample or more, for evaluation and for consideration of larger applications. If you have any questions, please call or email…If you want samples or to see the fixture we can meet at your earliest convenience, and I will demonstrate the fixtures at your place of choice. Thank you for this opportunity.”

Following the article I wrote about the experiences of the (CALiPER mystery shopper), I now feel like the mystery manufacturer has contacted me. I use the term “manufacturer” loosely, because more people are springing up in the SSL business than a broken couch. Whether manufacturer, agent, distributor or representative, it is all the same; grab some product from a far-away source, create a website and you are in the LED business overnight. In some instances, I have seen the same product on multiple websites, all claiming to be the ‘manufacturer’.

In my presentations to lighting designers, specifiers and energy-efficiency organizations, I highlight some of the many resources and tools that are available to vet SSL products. The message is the same: educate the potential buyers in order to attempt to prevent purchasing pitfalls. At the same time, make the manufacturers and their channels aware of this process to put them “on notice” that the truth is out there and if they are not “bringing it” everyone will know when they are “winging it.”

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This article was published in the May/June 2009 issue of LEDs Magazine.

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