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The secrets of making money out of printers & scanners

01 Aug 06

Document management (DM) systems are becoming increasingly important to businesses– especially once they understand the cost savings that can be achieved. A good DM solution combines a range of hardware, software and services and provides a strong opportunity for the channel to make some money.

Globally HP is urging its partners to sell pages, not printers, by offering assessments of customers’ overall printing and copier environments and transitioning them to a pay-per-page model.

Andrew Seerden, general manager of HP NZ’s imaging and printing group, is leading the charge to convince resellers to consider a new way of selling DM.

Seerden says resellers here need to move to a solution sale rather than focusing on hardware

“Look at mobile phones - no money is made on the hardware but plenty is made on calling revenue. It’s the same for printers. The imaging and printing market has come a long way and resellers need to change their selling mode,” he says.

By concentrating on a cost per copy sell, with all costs consolidated in one customer invoice, resellers gain access to an annuity income through managed print services.

Seerden defines DM as the process of sharing, storing and retrieving a document, establishing processes around that and then incorporating it into the organisation.

“It’s really about simplifying a process and increasing efficiency. Unfortunately DM is often an afterthought when it’s actually a cost reduction move.”

The key selling point the channel should recognise, says Seerden, is the ability to reduce cost and streamline processes.

He stresses that HP is keen to work with the channel on sales opportunities and says his company is more than willing to provide specialist advice to assist with a sale.

“DM often requires some form of specialisation. If a partner gets HP on board early it can help design the solution.”

While there are a number of specialist resellers who understand the new way of selling Seerden admits it’s a learning curve for many.

“There are numerous value-add smarts that a lot of resellers aren’t aware of, yet HP is more than happy to talk to the channel.”

However Derek Austin, Nuance sales manager ANZ productivity applications division, prefers to use the term workflow management rather than DM.

Austin says resellers should focus on improving workflow as a whole rather than take a document by document approach.

He points out that any general DM systems should include; centralisation of all document in electronic storage, the ability to manipulate and repurpose documents for new uses and the ability to search and retrieve based on content and metadata searches.

“Everyone needs DM so it’s a natural adjunct to network reseller infrastructure sales and sales of multifunction devices. Shrink-wrap software makes it easy for resellers to make an add-on sale,” he says.

Not only does DM increase revenue it deepens the customer relationship, consequently bringing in future business, says Austin.

He believes resellers should look to include as many high margin products and services as possible.

“Resellers need to develop a unique solution that blends a range of offerings. They need to think about what makes them different in terms of expertise, location and customer base.”

Austin says small and medium businesses and workgroups within enterprises are looking to drive increased productivity and leverage their existing technology investment.

“Resellers should analyse their customer’s requirements and develop a portfolio of hardware, software and services that addresses those. Customers will value those resellers who make them think about how they can eliminate document bottlenecks in the workflow.”

He advises resellers to bear in mind that cost-effective solutions must be able to work within the customers existing infrastructure as well as seamlessly integrate with other common applications.

“Checking documents in and out of enterprise systems can be a chore. Make sure the user interface for the repository is simple and efficient and check that the process of attaching metadata to captured documents is straightforward,” says Austin.

Like Austin, Anjna Patel, Epson NZ marketing manager, prefers to use the term workflow or process management to define DM.

“Epson provides the peripherals to assist in DM but doesn’t actually market an entire system or package,” she says.

However Patel says Epson has products for the document creation stage, with either single or batch scan and attached ADF option.

“Document sharing can be done via an Epson multimedia projector and output to hardcopy is done using various print technologies,” she says.

Patel points out that in the current business market within a DM workflow there is always an audit trail and often a requirement for output to hardcopy.

Despite the move to encourage resellers to take advantage of upselling and repeat business opportunities Lloyd Jenkins, Comworth Systems national sales manager, believes that the channel faces genuine challenges.

“Many IT resellers are focused on the hardware sale because that’s the way they’ve always done business. Perhaps they should follow-up on the consumables side but holding the stock for that can be difficult,” he says.

As Jenkins points out, when a customer wants a replacement cartridge they want it immediately and aren’t happy to wait while a reseller puts an order through.

Additionally, says Jenkins, it’s hard for resellers to compete with the pricing offered by consumable specialists.

Jenkins says he’s noticed the trend towards cost-per-copy selling but believes it requires extensive investment in infrastructure – something that’s beyond the realm of most general resellers.

However he would like to remind resellers not to forget about printers.

“Often general resellers are so focused on other aspects of business that they forget there’s still money to be made in selling printers. Resellers able to offer a value-added service to customers can do extremely well,” he says.

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