It should be highlighted up-front that for PicoPV products, in contrast to more complex higher-priced solar products, it will be relatively easy to find already existing distribution channels firmly rooted in the private sector, into which PicoPV products can be integrated in a competitive and efficient manner. Already established distribution and financing infrastructure for household electronics and ICT products, for example, can offer ready entry points for the inclusion of PicoPV products, which fall into similar consumer price ranges and require a similar maintenance and repair service structure. However, reaching the so-called "last mile" customers, those living in remote rural areas, where lack of infrastructure for transport and marketing make distribution difficult, poses a key challenge to those involved in the picoPV market.
Concerning cash sales models, experience with solar home systems have already proven most sustainable solutions in studies. Therefore with regard to PicoPV systems, it can also be relied on those models:
Inclusive Energy Distribution Strategies for Energy Access Programmes and Companies
Regarding PicoPV systems a few specifications already can be summed up:
PicoPV Importeurs and Master Distributers
Lack of cash availability on the side of potential importers / master distributers as a market entry barrier is of course less eminent in the PicoPV market than it may be in markets for other more expensive PV products. Compared to markets for higher-priced PV technologies, there will be a larger number of domestic businesses who are able to enter the market as importers of PicoPV products, which is desirable from a market efficiency perspective as there is less leeway for mo- nopoly pricing or price discrimination.
PicoPV Retailers at the Local Level
Further down the supply chain, the following hurdles to enter into PicoPV markets for business owners at local level have emerged from the preliminary findings of the qualitative PicoPV surveys:
- lack of knowledge about PicoPV products;
- lack of certainty about the willingness and ability to pay for PicoPV products among local customers;
- lack of confidence in the quality of the products;
- high risk aversion due to small financial buffer;
- lack of expertise and lack of availability of well-trained staff to provide after-sales service to customers.
Models for After-sales Service for PicoPV Systems
The importance of maintenance and after-sales service structures has also been highlighted by several respondents across countries in the GIZ PicoPV field survey.
In a market-based dissemination model, chances for sustain- ability are higher if sellers also play a key role in after-sales service (van Vleuten 2007). In rural areas, PicoPV vendors will have an intrinsic interest in putting into place service structures to ensure customer satisfaction, which is crucial as their business success will depend to a large degree on word- of-mouth recommendations. In addition, service delivery will be easier to organize by those supply side actors who al- ready have gained a minimum of the required technical ex- pertise to make informed decisions for the choice of the right lamp model etc.
However, PicoPV systems, in contrast to SHSs or other com- plex innovative energy solutions, are portable and not fixed to the house, which enables users to bring back the entire product to the shop or market where they have bought in case of technical problems. It is therefore relatively easy for retailers to offer after-sales services, as they do not have to visit customers in their homes, if they make the investment to gain the technical know-how for repair and maintenance of lamps.
- ↑ Last Mile Distribution of Offgrid Solar Products Workshop Report https://energypedia.info/images/f/f6/Last_Mile_Distribution_of_Offgrid_Solar_workshop_report_-_Feb2014_-_Full....pdf
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 GTZ. 2010. What difference can a PicoPV system make? Early findings on small Photovoltaic systems - an emerging low- cost energy technology for developing countries: GIZ PicoPV Booklet