Just as traditional OP dealers have extended their offering to encompass print and associated services, is there an opportunity for traditional print and IT resellers to diversify into new areas?
Many OEMs that dealers partner with on print also manufacture a wide range of ancillary products, from AV equipment and display screens to phone systems and laptops. As the print market shrinks and demand for managed services increases, a growing number are encouraging channel partners to take on these products and diversify their offering. But how easy is it to do?
Mark Smyth, Operations Director at Vision Plc, says that where long, successful client relationships exist, customers are very happy to extend their requirements to Vision as a trusted partner.
“We have established a significant client base with specialist strength and depth in several key vertical markets and transitioned to a provider of business solutions that include Managed Print and Document Solutions, Unified Communications, IT Services and Offices Supplies,” he said.
“We have placed great emphasis on taking care of our clients with solid account management. When client satisfaction and confidence levels are high, there is always a willingness for clients to purchase more and more from a single trusted provider and partner.”
Growth in education
Lex Business Equipment Ltd is also enjoying sales success outside its core customer offering, and now offers a full range of IT products, including interactive whiteboards, large format displays and laptop and desktop computers.
Sales Director Sam Elphick said: “Our close relationship with our clients enables us to actively promote the other divisions of our business and, over time, when our clients are ready to procure such products, we are considered for a quotation.
“As an accredited Dell reseller, we only supply the equipment. We don’t offer a complete managed IT solution, but that works well with the majority of our clients as they have their own IT departments.” He added that because Lex is able to buy Dell products quite competitively and provides high levels of customer service (prompt and promised delivery timescales etc.), sales have been quite good. “Throughout the year we have supplied a number of public sector customers as we are able to bid for special pricing on their behalf. In the New Year, we plan to focus more on providing AV equipment and Apple products to the education sector,” he said.
“The development of AV devices, such as interactive whiteboards, and their compatibility with Apple products means they are now massively desired. This area is going to grow even more than it did in 2015, and this will be an area we focus on to capture a greater chunk of spend.”
Principal, too, has a diverse portfolio that goes far beyond traditional print services and MPS, including a wide variety of cloud services, such as back-up, storage, hosting and cloud printing, which it offers in addition to on-premise IT solutions and IT consulting.
Commercial & Marketing Director Tony Wills said: “We know from experience that offering a hybrid IT solution is critical if you are to be a credible IT provider. We also sell and support a complete range of IT hardware, as well as AV products, such as interactive screen technology.
“Over the last five years we have seen these non-print solutions grow to more than 20% of our total business and this is set to rise to 40% within the next fie years. This is in parallel with continued growth in our traditional print business.” Principal made the decision to diversify 15 years ago when it moved into IT services, but, according to Wills, it is really in the last fie years that the firm has invested significant resources to expand and enhance its IT product and services offering.
“This has played a major part in our growth over this time and has proved to be a very popular move with many customers. As a result we are now seeing them procure a much broader array of products and services from Principal. Our aim is to continue to expand both our resources and portfolio in non-print activities, while still ensuring that we are at the forefront of delivering world class MPS solutions,” he said.