JB Hi-Fi Goes Grey Market

The bricks and mortar retailer has quietly launched an online-only direct sales model, selling DSLR cameras and accessories at first. JB Hi-Fi, best known for its bricks and mortar stores, has launched its own grey market import business, but you'll have to shop online with the company to take advantage of it. Dubbed "direct import", it's currently only offering DSLR cameras, lenses, flashes and grips to consumers. It's even undercutting its own stores in the process; a Nikon D3100 through JB Hi-Fi's online store with a single lens currently lists at $777. The same camera, through direct import on the same site? $596.

Earlier in the year, JB Hi-Fi chairman Patrick Elliott, responding to a question at its annual general meeting, claimed that when it comes to the sale of goods in its stores, it was prepared to go to a “direct import model” if suppliers didn’t reduce the cost price of their goods. Looks like that's exactly what's happened. [JB Hi-Fi via Ozbargain]


    Well everyone else is doing it, would make business sense no?

      I'm just impressed they're giving it a shot, as opposed to Harvey Norman who clung desperately to their outdated business model and cried foul. If you can't beat em, join em.

    I think we're officially living in "interesting times".

    Now, can someone do something about the price of car spare parts. Sheesh!

      or just cars, period!

      a BMW M3 Coupe in Australia retails at $132,492.00 + $35,000 in on road costs. In the US, the same car retails for $59,900.

        Try and purchase the same car in Singapore for $300K+

          That's Govt greed in taxes and middle men

    The way the financial market looks, it's too late guys.

    Looking at their prices it's still cheaper for me to just buy camera gear from the States.

      But JB will have to give you local warranty/returns support under our consumer laws. This is a great result for local consumers IMO.

        I was told by a camera shop in Canberra that the xacti hd2000 I was interested in ($1000 in Aus, bought on ebay for $450) would need to be sent overseas to be repaired.. even IF I had to send it O/S (I found a local repair place BTW) it was half the cost to begin with.. that more than covers the cost of postage and insurance .. even a courier!

        Warranty-Smarranty.. if the price is less than 50% .. screw the warranty and buy a new one if the original breaks.. you'd still save money ;-)

          What that retailer told you about 'sending it overseas' is a load of crap. The only time that would happen is if they don't have a service centre in Australia. It's a logistical nightmare for both the consumer and manufacturer otherwise.

            Most items I sell don't carry any international warranty. The Australian Suppliers will not warranty the product here. Although you can certainly pay for the item to be fixed locally. But for the sake of saving $500 odd bucks the risk might be worth it. Most "grey imports" items I have purchased don't have a manufacturers warranty in Australia, although the shop i purchased the item from provided a warranty through their own repairers. No drama's so far. *touch wood*

              Wrong Mr Crumplebottom.

              If the product does not have a international warranty, then the local arm of that company has every legal right to refuse service. Many times i myself have turned many a consumer away when presented with a request for warranty service with a grey market product.

              If it has an international warranty, then yes, the local company must adhere to repair/replacing the item. But only if it was purchased from a business that has the company's support in that country, and with a valid receipt.

              What JB is doing is bold, by taking that responsibility of warranty onto themselves. But for the consumer its such a big win-win scenario.

      Not if the customs mafia get a hold of your parcel...

        I was told they cover the taxes for you. The reason it is cheaper is not the taxes, it is the fact they buy from a different distibuter. The Australian importers marks up the prices then JB marks them up. If JB can get them cheaper from a distributer overseas then they can sell them cheaper to us.


          JB state quite a few times that the purchaser is liable to pay the tax for products over $1,000.
          So any item over a grand, be sure to add 10% that you will have to pay customs to release your product.

    It's not as if we didn't see the retail store collapse coming...

    How about this for a business model. The Bulk Collective. TBC.

    The site offers an item with a minimum number of purchasers required to place the order and an estimated price (min order cost + import, delivery and taxes). As numbers go up, presumably the price goes down.. If the minimum isn't met, the money isn't deducted from your account. If the order is met, everyone pays the final lowest price. The store takes a flat rate cut.

    The benefit here being that at least an Aus company can be making a profit from it, GST and import taxes can be satisfied, consumers get a back-channel for warranty situations... and there is at least some semblance of transportation efficiency.

    The downside being the requirement for consumers to be patient. (Hence the TBC)

    ...so like a mix of kickstarter and kogan.

      Not sure if you are being sarcastic, but isn't that exactly the model that Group buying sites like groupon use?

    Cue the Harvey Norman tirade about how he's doing it tough and he can't compete with them, blah blah blah,

    Checking them out now for that lens I've been after!

      Harvey "High Price" Norman can go stick his comments where there's no interest for 24 months.

      Would never shop there, he should start returning some of the price premiums his chain charges the unbeknown public - it's one thing to shop Australian, another to disrespect your nation's public. Pfft Harvey Norman.

    awesome, lets send all of out money overseas...

      The money is going overseas anyways... the products aren't being manufactured in Australia.

        But Kev it doesn't all go overseas. I work for a company in the IT sector, we have 70 employees in Australia. If our product was direct imported then there would be no need for our warehouse, customer service staff, sales people, credit team etc. That's 70 people out of work, from just one company. Hey i'm all for cheaper pricing and buy a lot online myself, but not all dollars spent locally go to the overseas parent company.

    Oi. Tim.
    We're sending out money overseas anyway, do you see Nikon with with a manufacturing plant in Australia?
    Whether or not we send it out through an official distributor channel or via a grey import is irrelevant.

    Good to see JB take a leaf out of Kogan's play book. In the end we'll all win - the consumer and the retailer.

    Tim, since most products are made overseas, where do you think most of the money is going anyway?
    But yes, lets say we're saving $300 on a camera... there's going to be a fair few people missing out on that $300 (not taking into account profit), so they're not going to have any money themselves to spend... sigh...
    The biggest problem with money is its accumulation: Saving money removes it from circulation, means there's less to go around. Likewise, the incessant requirement for every company to make 'profit' removes that money from circulation too.

    Isn't it time we moved on from greed?

    Nothing would bring me more pleasure than taking down all bricks and mortar stores, replacing them with beautiful eateries, entertainment complexes and things that are actually enjoyable by both genders.

    Bricks & Mortar stores should really go green, save the physical space for something this world actually needs.

    @Girls, please do not take offence, i'm just not a firm believer in physical shopping considering the cons outweigh the pros IMHO.

    Rant over.

      if only you could have tried on every piece of clothing that you bought online, seen how poorly made that tv was before you bought it, saw the actual size of that wardrobe thats far to big for your house before your bought it, or gotten all youre food fresh from the supermarket

      and now youre stuck in a cramped house, with clothes that are all too big/small/ill fitting, with a bunch of tacky cheap electronics and rotting food, none of which you can return cause theyre not replying to your angry emails

      i think ill stick to the bricks and mortar stores thanks, i dont see any cons at all.

        I'm pretty sure most people know their dimensions for clothes, so ordering online isn't a problem. Additionally with electronics, read some reviews, there are plenty of resources out there for you to make an informed decision as to whether it's what you want or not.

        Brick and Mortar - no convenience. You physically have to go somewhere to take a look, purchase, and carry it home. It's also much more expensive.

        A valid point about some items such as clothing. Regardless if you know your size things can still end up not quite right, even when you've double checked against your measurements.

        For a lot of other things though, I wouldn't really trust a salesperson to give me the best advice. That's not even a comment that I think salespeople will lie to get you to buy stuff (some will though I've found), it's just fact they can't know everything even if they're generally pretty knowledgeable and helpful.

        For expensive electronics especially multiple reviews is the only way to go for info. Asking the person in the store pales vastly in comparison to the knowledge you can get online even if that particular staff member is determined to be knowledgeable, helpful and honest.

    If you've ever used the JB Hifi Online store you will know that this is the least of their concerns. They have shockingly bad customer service and even worse delivery times.

    As for brick'n'mortar vs online, certain items are not required to be seen.. for example DVDs and Music CDs, Software, proven brands (Sony, Apple, Toshiba, Lenovo etc etc etc) and so on. And if you can't use a basic measuring tape to work out if an item is going to be too big then you are going to have the same problem whether it's B&M or online.

    No.. there are a lot of times when online is just as valid as B&M.

      I ordered a couple of Blu-Rays a while ago - it took something like 2+ weeks to get them. That's the sort of shipping times I'd expect coming from Amazon...

    5D mkII is still $300 higher than the best recent price I've seen. JB is an option but rarely a worthwhile one.

      I really support JB here as we have too long a line in the distributor, wholesaler and retailer chain. Each doubles the price and we end up with a product that sells here for $3000 and in the USA for $800 (I have seen this with Denon amps). So if the suppliers didn't lower their price, then good luck to JB for going elsewhere. We just need to find new jobs for the retail salespeople.

    Good on you JB. The distributors of imports have held Aussie retailers and consumers to ransom for too long.

    I have already bought stuff online from JB and not had any delays or trouble at all.
    I would be comfortable buying direct import IT gear from them in the future.

    If this model really takes off, I suggest JB look at re-training store sales people for online sales and opening their own repair centres (or contracting out to existing ones) to provide warranty support where necessary.

    Shouldn't we all be applauding JB for getting with the times and being the first OZ brick and mortar retailer to provide genuine direct importing.

    Supply chains have been greedy for so long in Australia and now Jb is giving their customers REAL savings with the back up of the JB Brand.

    If you read the print on their site,you can go into any one of their stores around Australia and get a full refund if the product is not suitable and plus you can talk to someone in person if you have a problem.

    Tell me one other online retailer that offers that.

    Top marks JB!

    This is perfect, i was going to buy a 60d with 15-85mm lense and its cheaper at jb than ebay AND i can grab an australian warranty with it

    Canon and Nikon should stop local supply to JB and go direct themselves. 1 store in each state a similar model to digital camera warehouse.

    Basically JB has said it's OK to grey import from overseas. I suggest if you have not already done so buy your DVD's etc from overseas too. MUCH cheaper than JB. Lets close all local retailers down ( who cares about local jobs anyway ) and buy everything under $1,000 AUD from overseas. Attention JB staff working in the photographic department I suggest you start looking for a new career! I hope Canon and Nikon has a policy in place for 'grey importers' I suggest perhaps they impose a 'grey price match policy' which means Canon or Nikon sell direct to the Australian public to price match any grey imports. This way we get local warranty and support. The future of retail is looking interesting. With retailers such as JB becoming grey importers...perhaps the time is now right for local importers/wholesalers to become retailers too.

    Different camera brand are now establishing a high specification to meet the high standards of photographer from amateur to professional. It is so good that the world wide web are bringing up e-commerce websites in the industry to shop from home.Many Australians are now preferred to buy camera online.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now