Ricoh launches new sales support portal and opens up MFP sales to the printer channel as it aims to increase its penetration of corporates and the public sector.
Ricoh is the fastest growing printer company in the UK and Europe. It has only been selling printers through the channel for eight years, but it is already No 4 in colour lasers and No 6 overall.
Now, Ricoh plans to build on that platform by raising awareness of its printers amongst corporates and public sector organisations. To this end, it has launched a new reseller support portal and overhauled its channel structure to attract more corporate resellers, while continuing to promote the Ricoh brand through its Discover Ricoh campaign.
Tried and tested
For IT resellers and their customers, Ricoh printers are an obvious choice. With a 25% share of the MFP market and a 51% share in production print, Ricoh has extensive knowledge of the requirements of public and private sector organisations, from low running costs and reliability to ease of use and productivity.
The insight that Ricoh has gained from manufacturing, selling and servicing MFPs has shaped its printer range. Robust design and long-lasting components, low TEC ratings and high capacity consumables, intuitive interfaces and easy connectivity – all reflct Ricoh’s experience in the B2B market and underline its printers’ suitability for the most demanding users.
No doubt, other manufacturers make similar claims about their devices, but Ricoh is in the enviable position of being able to back up its assertions with hard facts. Last year, as part of a strategy to raise awareness of its printer range and to demonstrate the confience it has in its products, Ricoh launched the Ricoh Pledge.
Now extended for another year, this gives any buyer of a mid-range Ricoh printer who isn’t completely satisfid with the product, the opportunity to get their money back within 30 days of purchase. Ricoh makes this incredibly easy to do: the customer just has to tell Ricoh they aren’t happy and it will arrange collection from the customer’s premises and refund the money in full.
Since the Ricoh Pledge was introduced nine months ago, less than 0.5% of customers have taken Ricoh up on its offer and asked for their money back – and some of these only did so because they bought the wrong type of machine in the fist place i.e. buying a printer when they wanted a fax.
To celebrate such high customer satisfaction levels, Ricoh has launched a new end user promotion for this quarter – the 99% incentive.
Giving businesses and consumers yet another reason to buy its printers, every month until the end of September Ricoh is randomly selecting 33 newly registered customers and reimbursing them the cost of their printer.
Sales support portal
As well as generating interest for resellers through its Discover Ricoh campaign and associated promotions like the 99% incentive, Ricoh is enhancing its channel support.
One of the most important developments, according to Steven Hastings, Ricoh IT Distribution Channel Director, Indirect Sales, is the launch of a brand new sales support portal attached to the Ricoh Print and AV blog (www. ricohprintersandav.uk).
“This tells IT resellers, AV resellers and corporate resellers everything they need to know about our products: what they are; what the incentives are; where they can get them from; and the best way to access my team,” he said.
Hastings added that the need for a single portal offering access to all the information a reseller might need became critical after Ricoh signifiantly increased its online and social media marketing activities.
“We have really upped our social media presence in the last couple of years, but I don’t think either end users or resellers want one URL to collect cash back, another URL to learn about a different incentive and yet another URL for warranties. Instead, we want to have once central point where customers can fid details on products and incentives and where resellers can access a channel-only sales support portal providing access to marketing collateral, details of our distributors, news of what we are up to and links to support staff,” he said.
The dedicated resource includes information on printers, AV products and specifi MFPs that are available to the printer channel.
The launch of the portal coincides with Ricoh’s decision to simplify its accredited reseller structure and move from three tiers to two – Accredited Reseller and Reseller Plus.
“Accredited Resellers essentially get access to everything via the blog – all sales support material and all collateral – and have the
opportunity to formalise their target and rebate structure against the units of revenue they do in a quarter,” explained Hastings. “We also have a separate Reseller Plus accreditation for IT resellers interested in formalising a relationship with us on the MFP side as well. They have an MFP target, as well as a printer target and rebate structure.
“Of course, if an Accredited Reseller has a one-off opportunity to sell the MFP range, we won’t say no. But for those resellers who want to formalise a partnership and work with us more closely as an MFP reseller and a printer reseller, there is Reseller Plus accreditation.”
Hastings says that this year Ricoh has a target to increase the number of resellers that actively use the new sales support portal to around 1,500.
“We had about 1,000 signed up to our previous portal and they will automatically be signed over to the new one. We will contact them and they can choose a log-in. On top of those existing resellers, we are looking for an additional 500 resellers to sign up,” he said.
He adds that Ricoh is hoping to take on a much smaller number of Accredited Reseller and Reseller Plus partners.
“Realistically, we are looking for about 50 Accredited Resellers, with a specifi rebate programme and more direct support from a reseller manager; and about 30 Reseller Plus partners to sell MFPs and printers. We want to give them a very supportive partnership and we recognise that we can’t do that for 1,500.”
To this end, Ricoh has taken on two full time sales support agents, in addition to its existing national and regional public sector and e-tail/retail managers.
“They will be available all day, every day, on the phone and in front of their email, answering any question those 1,500 resellers want to ask,” said Hastings.
Hastings is confient that these changes, from the new sales support portal to end user incentives like the 99% campaign, will help increase the visibility and accessibility of Ricoh printers/MFPs and the Ricoh brand, for corporates, public sector organisations and resellers alike
“We need to make sure that our products are as visible and as accessible as they possibly can be. In the past they might not have been, but this is changing. The end user blog we have built up and the amount of traffci it now gets has made Ricoh much easier for end users to find. Meanwhile, the amount of information that we have put together on the reseller sales support portal should also make it easier for our partners to find the help and support they need. It is all part of the Discover Ricoh campaign.”