In today’s highly competitive channel environment, two of the greatest challenges resellers face are improving the loyalty of existing customers while increasing their customer base. Colour printer resellers can meet both challenges by working closely with their vendors to deliver the products,

services, and solutions their customers need to be successful.

To effectively leverage existing client relationships, resellers must be able to offer sustained value—added benefits to their customers. We think about three different ways resellers can stay in contact with their customers and sustain these relationships on an ongoing basis.

First and foremost, are you able to offer the support that your customers need? Estimates show that 30 per cent of IT problems are related to printer support, creating an important opportunity for resellers to add value during the post-sale timeframe. The ideal printer vendor will offer tools that resellers can implement to help customers avoid and manage printer-related problems that do occur.

Next, 75 per cent of margin dollars on a network colour printer come from consumables and services after the hardware is sold. Customers will continuously need to replenish their supply of toner/ink, maintenance kits and paper, so resellers must be enabled to deliver supplies when their customers need them. Even better, some vendors provide tools that allow for orders to be automatically placed by customers to resellers when supplies are running low – easing the process for the customer and allowing the reseller to provide prompt delivery.

Finally, being in regular contact with your customers – not just when they need something but on a proactive basis – is key to building a long-term relationship. Again, the printer vendor can help resellers accomplish this by offering tools and content to create customized communications – both through direct mail and through e-mail.

While the graphic arts industry stands at the forefront of in-house colour printing technology, business of all types and sizes are incorporating network colour printers into their technology mix in order to increase competitive advantage, save money and improve productivity. This transition to colour for use in general office, sales, and marketing applications is one area with great potential for growing a client base across specific industries. Warwood Office Equipment, a technology reseller based out of Edmonton, works with a number of vertical markets and has seen this trend in action. President Bruce Van Wassenhove notes that, “with the price for colour hardware dropping so dramatically and the speeds of products improving, many organizations are adopting in-house colour printing to better manage the cost of their office printing and bring added functionality.”

“The barriers just aren’t there anymore.”

Van Wassenhove notes this is especially true in education and finance, where managers have been quick to notice the benefits in-house colour printing brings their organizations, and which are two of Warwood’s largest verticals.

Five main factors are driving the transition to network colour printing: increases in speed, performance, reliability, quality and affordability.

Today’s networked colour printers are boasting output speeds as high as 40 pages per minute and some are capable of producing documents at the highest-resolution possible (1200 x 1200 dpi). Also, unique printing technologies such as solid ink help vendors manufacture printers that start below $1,500, while still providing a high profit margin for resellers. All of these driving factors make purchasing a high performance, network colour printer attractive to customers and resellers alike.

The fact that network colour printing, advanced printer software and reseller-centric tools can both increase a reseller’s current clientele and assist in keeping existing customers loyal underscores its importance. Some printer vendors have experienced year over year growth in the colour printer market, representing a solid opportunity for the reseller community. That kind of growth illustrates the willingness on the part of general businesses today to seriously consider transitioning from monochrome printing to colour and for graphic artists to continue to purchase the latest in colour printing offerings.

Donna Wittman is a vice-president oft Xerox Canada’s channels group. She can be reached at donna.wittman@office.xerox.com

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