Print Industry Opportunities When The Chips Are Down – Louella Fernandes

Recommended channel strategies

In an already challenging commercial landscape, how can MPS providers best navigate the supply chain disruption?

As some workers return to the office, organisations may be looking to resize their printer fleets to support a more flexible and hybrid workforce. Extending MPS contracts can only be a short-term solution. This may address immediate supply issues, but as offices reduce office space and so potentially printing needs, the channel must be able to adapt.

There is always the risk that – as offices reassess what office footprint they need – lower print volumes across fewer devices could become the new reality. Of course, there may be opportunities where some companies open up more satellite offices, or want to shift to a distributed A4 model within their office HQs, away from centralised print.

Nevertheless, the industry has long needed to transform beyond box shifting, and the chip shortage should be viewed as a prime opportunity to consider how to build value-add solutions and services around MFP hardware that can pave the way for higher value long term software-centric customer relationships.

Quocirca recommends that the channel reinforces its role as a trusted provider with the following actions:

  • Educate customers and offer flexible alternatives. Customers cannot be expected to be fully aware of how much impact the chip shortage is having across a broad range of industry sectors. The channel must take responsibility for explaining why the device that a customer may want is not available and how a different, possibly less modern, device will meet their needs – even if it is for a shorter period of time.
  • Early forecasting. Set expectations with customers around long lead times, and monitor changing availability issues, so customers are not making last-minute decisions. Offer assessment services that help customers evaluate and define their technology and MPS roadmap. This becomes more challenging in supporting new starters who require laptops and printers, particularly remote workers. Wherever possible, keep a buffer inventory to support this.
  • Diversify portfolio to encompass software and services. Maximise opportunities within existing customers to sell managed IT services, digital workflow and solutions that can help customers get more from their existing equipment. Along with the shift to higher margin software, this is also an opportunity to enhance subscription-based propositions around service and supplies.
  • Help customers move printing to the cloud. This is one approach to minimising dependence on new print servers, and its benefits go beyond hardware. A cloud print infrastructure minimises IT burden, reduces costs – financial and environmental – and can help an organisation better manage and monitor print security.
    Push sustainable options. Many manufacturers are enhancing their green credentials to support the circular economy. As organisations increasingly focus on addressing environmental and sustainability goals, consider that some customers may look to procure used/refurbished products. In addition, deploy solutions to support digitisation and the ongoing shift to less-paper environments. While the paperless office may never completely materialise, the channel cannot rest on its laurels in the face of ongoing print volume decline. This has to be offset by digitisation and the obvious environmental benefits.
  • Capitalise on multi brand portfolios. While no manufacturer is immune to the chip shortage, there may be opportunities to build a mixed fleet environment based on different manufacturers’ device availability.
  • The global chip shortage is not going away anytime soon, and customers will be looking for guidance on how to navigate it. Beyond hardware supply chain disruption, the channel should use this to develop new strategies to deepen their software and services portfolio. Security, cloud and automation are all key areas to capitalise on.

Ultimately, the chip shortage should drive a deeper rethink of business models and supply chain tactics in the print industry.

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