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Keeping it in the channel

01 Feb 10

Brand allegiance in the printer sector has some strong positive points, but requires careful planning.
Every now and then the threat of the vendor bypassing the channel and selling direct rears its head. Nowhere is this more evident than in the mid-to-high range print category, where traditional printer vendors not only compete with each other, but also with the multinational subsidiaries from the converging copier industry.
Built on a model of providing a strong services infrastructure, coupled with a customer-centric, solution-based sales approach, the copier industry has established a customer expectation of superior performance and functionality from print-based devices.
It has also established the market for contract-based print-solution style business.
Some print vendors have made product range and support tool advances to combat this, but there is an arguable lack of hard evidence to support a positive impact for the majority of the channel.
There is, however, significant potential. If you carefully select a brand allegiance, your business could not only sell additional product at relatively strong margin, but lock in ongoing revenue from your customers for three- to five-year periods.
This is a powerful proposition in a tough industry.
When selecting a brand allegiance, choose carefully based on a long-term approach. Ensure you have all the pre- and post-sale support to align with your existing capabilities, plugging the gaps. A strong understanding of the print business, proven experience in managed print services, extensive sales tools, professional demonstration facilities and sound local support will be the essential elements you require.
Not many print vendors can offer this combination. If you carefully select one that does, you stand to not only keep print business in the channel, but earn incremental recurring revenue, whilst locking in long-term customer relationships.