Yamaha Gets Into Distribution Game

Yamaha announced at its recent dealer meeting in Las Vegas that in addition to offering dealers its line of branded products, the OEM will become a distributor of more outside vendors.

The move not only allows Yamaha to augment its growing parts and accessory lineup, but also puts the company in direct competition with the traditional powersports distributors.

"Essentially we're going to continue to add product lines that Yamaha dealers are already buying and giving them one-stop shopping," says Maurice Murray, general manager of Yamaha's parts and accessories business.

By picking up outside vendors, Yamaha is also further fleshing out plans announced in 2007 to double the number of aftermarket products it offers to consumers. The first step of that process had Yamaha redoubling the private-label branding work it does with outside PG&A manufacturers.

Some of the new vendors include Harris Performance Products, TAG Metals, Sunline, Stomp Grip and Talon sprockets — the latter will be sold under Yamaha's GYTR brand. Murray stresses that the company will only stock parts that have Yamaha applications or universal fitment and is being very selective about which products it picks up.

"We know we have pole position when we walk into the Yamaha store," Murray says. "Our rep carries in a much bigger piece of business. … This makes it easy for our dealers to roll up business and make volume [buys]."

Murray says the plan was born during the industry's rough ride earlier this year when the company realized that it had the warehousing, sales force and dealer network to support a small distribution network. The idea was floated to Yamaha's dealer council where it was met with interest and then circulated to vendors during Dealer Expo in February where the response was overwhelming, Murray says.

In Yamaha's earlier announcement about expanding its PG&A line, the OEM said it was using its inside knowledge of new models, along with dedicated in-house engineering and quality assurance departments, to beat other aftermarket manufacturers with Yamaha-brand P&A. This way it could have products available right when the new models hit the sales floor. Proprietary accessories will be integrated with the vehicle's original design.

"Our studies have shown that the best time to sell accessories is in the first 30 days of ownership," Murray said at the time. "There's a staggering percentage of accessories sales that take place within the first 30 days of owning the vehicle."

This rides contrary to the industry standard of having dealership parts counters work like glorified catalog showrooms. Unlike other retail businesses, powersports dealers regularly have customers wait on items that they don't keep in stock. "Our studies show that the customer doesn't want to come back tomorrow; that the customer wants to be serviced today," Murray noted. "If you tell the customer to come back tomorrow, they go away and come up with a better way to spend their money."