JL Audio has named Seawide Distribution as the sole distributor of Clarion Marine audio products, the first development since the audio manufacturers announced they would enter a long-term licensing agreement.
As many retailers are shifting from brick-and-mortar stores and relying more heavily on e-commerce, JL Audio wants to do less Clarion business online to better support dealers as systems become increasingly complex.
“Previously with Clarion, most of the distribution was done online,” said Seawide president Keith Wansley. “They had distributors that sold to retailers, but this will expand all that and put the brand in reach for more boaters — hit more marinas, more boat specific retailers, more installers, and audio shops that cater to the marine public.”
It’s a similar approach that JL takes with its own brand in an effort to streamline distribution, limit the e-commerce presence, and have a more controlled distribution to the market, said Wansley.
“Especially as systems get more and more sophisticated and integrated with navigational systems on board, all that really lends itself to needing good installation, good product support, that kind of thing,” said Wansley. “It’s a great opportunity for dealers, and for us. I think it’s a totally different approach than how Clarion had gone to market prior to this agreement with JL.”
Seawide is positioned to handle the distribution with multiple warehouses around the country and a sales team that will work with dealers and installers. Seawide has experience expanding distribution for brands like LED manufacturer Lumishore.
JL Audio, which announced in August it would license Clarion’s marine audio business, contracted Seawide to serve as Clarion’s wholesale distributor for 2019 to open up opportunities with approved dealers who can provide customer service and professional installation of products.
“Streamlining distribution is an essential first step to strengthening the foundation of the Clarion Marine brand in the US market,” said JL Audio president Andy Oxenhorn in a statement. “Seawide Distribution has proven its capabilities in the marine electronics industry and has an impressive customer portfolio to show for it. Their nationwide support for key retailers will allow us to immediately place Clarion Marine products on shelves in stores at which boat owners frequently shop.”
Dealers will also start to see some new Clarion products as the licensing agreement with JL Audio matures, said Wansley.
“JL will start to make some changes to the product line, which is something I think the dealers will be interested in,” said Wansley. “They’re going to use the Clarion brand, but also do some of their own development of the product line.”