The ways in which businesses and organizations operate – starting from a foundational level – has evolved over the previous two years. The sales channel has had to adjust as it could no longer simply rely on what has worked in the past to remain successful. While there has been a degree of forced progression for businesses, each vertical market – from education to healthcare and retail – still has its own diverse set of challenges. From both a manufacturer and a dealer perspective, understanding these industry-specific challenges and the ways to help solve them is the key to successfully gaining and retaining business, profitability, and ensuring customers are pleased.
A thoughtful and tailored approach for vertical markets starts with knowledge. Dealers should understand the ins and outs of a specific vertical and have solutions to address its particular needs or pain points. Being well-informed about a given market can provide insight into bringing the right tools to help solve those customers’ unique concerns.
Tools to retain business
Partners that arm their dealers with a broad array of solutions, in-depth training programs and demand generation tools best position dealers for success with various markets and, in turn, help to improve profitability for stakeholders. Partnering with an OEM manufacturer that has proven support and office equipment solutions can make all the difference when it comes to success with vertical markets. With the current supply and demand landscape, it’s critical now more than ever to fortify partnerships with those that are able to deliver products as well as a solid vision and plan to continue business growth in the following years. Even though the industry as a whole has felt the effects of supply chain disruptions, dealers can provide support for their customers to capture business and help them plan ahead.
Feedback and insight from dealers, as well as industry trends, show that in any vertical market, corporations and organizations in today’s landscape are typically looking for business print solutions that are reliable, cost-effective, mindful of waste, and versatile.
Reliable products that can get the job done with minimal management and intervention are critically important to streamline operations for any business. Ideally, business print solutions that are designed with fewer replacement parts, resulting in fewer potential failure points, can be highly beneficial for organizations. In contrast, more parts mean more service may be required and can result in downtime, which businesses want to avoid. With the supply chain constraints today, and in the foreseeable future, businesses that are dependent on these printing solutions can enjoy peace of mind based on the product’s proven reliability.
With constrained budgets, businesses across many vertical markets require cost-effective printing technology that does not compromise speed, reliability or professional output. Additionally, the impact on the environment is a growing area of focus. Companies are evaluating the effect their business has on the environment and assessing proven office technologies that can help reduce energy consumption and consumables waste. More and more, businesses are looking for products that have environmental benefits and are economically viable and reliable. Dealers that offer printing solutions, such as MFPs with the lowest power consumption in their class to desktop MFPs with supersized ink tanks and high-yield replacement ink bottles, can better guide clients to achieving these goals.
Business printing behavior has certainly changed with more businesses reassessing their current approach to office printing to accommodate workers’ print needs, whether they are working remotely or in the office. To better balance in-office, hybrid and remote work environments, companies need print solutions that can integrate and accommodate workers regardless of location.
In addition to business printing solutions that are reliable, affordable, mindful of footprint and waste, and versatile across the board, each market has its own specific printing needs that oftentimes require tailored feature sets or capabilities – such as configuration and management for printer fleets, compact space-saving footprints or finishing equipment.
Understanding the requirements of vertical markets to meet customer needs
• Educational institutions require powerful yet simple printers that offer cost-effective color in a low-maintenance package. Reducing operational costs is also top of mind for educational institutions – from the K-12 level through to higher education.
Office equipment and computers consume 23% of electricity usage for K-12 buildings and energy costs account for only 2%-4% of school district expenditures. Colleges and universities in the U.S. spend an average of $1.10 per square foot on electricity, annually. Energy costs are one of the few expenses that can be decreased without negatively impacting students. Dealers should offer a broad portfolio of solutions that provide power consumption benefits, which can open up new business opportunities for educational institutions. Even in the digital age, high-quality color printed materials are important learning tools for K-12 students. With a keen eye on expenditure, replacement ink costs are often under scrutiny – from at-home users and education administrators and educators. The ability to provide solutions that lower these costs can give dealers an edge.
• Houses of worship are well-known for printing high volumes. Studies show that 75% of congregations use brochures and flyers and 65% use newsletters. Similar to educational institutions, congregations are working with lean resources and require tools to help them best operate at a low cost. The cost of replacement ink is frequently an area of concern.
For churches and archdiocese schools, “Desktop printers are [relatively inexpensive] because the money is in the toner or ink,” said Ed Reigadas with Simpli Smart Office, Inc., a dealer focused on houses of worship in the Archdiocese of New York. “But the problem is that [schools are] paying for a ton of toner cartridges, and we could see that was a poor use of their funds.”
Across verticals that place the utmost importance on ROI and affordability, dealers need to be able to offer hardware with significant ink cost savings.
• With retail and hospitality, storefronts and restaurants are still required to comply with both local and state guidelines to ensure both patron and employee health and safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) considerations for restaurants and bars continue to require businesses to print and display signs to explain preventative and protective measures. Although some have converted to QR code menus, some establishments still offer single-use menus. It’s important that these printed materials display professional quality now that 85% of consumers equate the quality of a company’s printed materials with the quality of its services.
After having a color printer on site in her restaurant, Francesca Gundogar with GG’s Bistro said, “We no longer have to send everything out to a print shop. Now, when I have an idea for a drink or salad special, I can print it almost immediately, then start taking orders. I’m so happy to have it. It’s helping us get through a tough time.”
Another challenge in retail and hospitality environments is real estate – or lack thereof. Businesses fortunate enough to have a back office often have closet-sized spaces, and those without a back office use under-counter or counter space for printing space. These markets require printing solutions that have a small footprint and can accommodate small office spaces or fit easily on a small counter area.
Expanding your solutions portfolio to open new business opportunities
It is very important for dealers to understand the markets they want to penetrate, but it’s equally important to have a portfolio of office equipment solutions that can cater to the specific needs of each market. Dealers should also look to diversify and consider categories such as wide-format, scan, projection, and label printing that offer the opportunity to capture more share of wallet with existing clients and support expansion into complementary and adjacent markets.
The disruptions of the past few years have led to a renewed interest in process improvements as businesses rethink practices to overcome the challenges of today with an eye on the future. Dealers broadening their portfolio of solutions, including those with low maintenance and intervention requirements, compelling TCO and outstanding service efficiency, are infinitely more valuable to customers as they plan for the future.
Joseph Contreras is Commercial Marketing Executive, Office Solutions, for Epson America Inc. He oversees portfolio management, strategic partnerships, software integration and support, and sales and marketing programs for Enterprise inkjet printing solutions.