Large vendors often overlook SMEs, but with small businesses contributing over £1.4bn to the national economy, often with ambitious growth plans, its essential that resellers realise their specific business needs and the margins to be made from them.
Our recent research, in conjunction with Ipsos, found that 62 per cent of SMEs in the UK have laser multi-function printers (MFPs), but just half (55 per cent) use them to fax and scan – proving that there is a clear need for resellers to educate the SME market about the productivity potential of their office equipment.
Resellers should aim to target growing SMBs who may have traditionally purchased IT equipment direct from an outlet store. As the SME expands, resellers should explain the benefits of purchasing through the channel, offering advice on products which best suit business needs. For example, rather than investing in a fax machine, scanner and printer as three standalone products, incurring the administrative and service costs of three separate vendors, resellers should advise SMEs to invest in a multi-functional product (a scanner, fax machine and printer in one device). This cuts the costs of contracts, but also simple things such as energy consumption.
It is essential that any reseller targeting the SME market understands the customers which they are targeting. While cutting costs is vital at the lower end of the market, feedback from our customers has shown that for smaller SMEs it is more critical that the product which they invest in is reliable. For example, a small company may only have one printer – if it breaks down, print jobs cannot be re-routed to another device, as they would be in an enterprise environment. In this case, critical print jobs would need to be outsourced to a copy shop until the company’s printer was fixed or replaced, which could prove costly.
Because every penny counts for small businesses, resellers should be on hand to offer advice on reducing the cost of consumables as well as the initial outlay, encouraging better long term budgeting. The channel can also benefit from offering long-term strategic planning advice to SMEs. The majority of SMBs in the UK (94 per cent) have taken some form of measure to reduce costs, but any drop in the volume of printing is due to tactical measures – such as the increase in electronic communication (52 per cent) – rather than strategic changes, such as better office workflow (just 10 per cent). Helping companies unlock their long-term productivity will be a key selling point for resellers. Likewise, selling MFDs encourages repeat business through servicing, helping build long-term relationships with resellers.
Workflow is key to an SME’s success. Smarter printing ensures better workflow processes, cost effectiveness and service for its customers. Vendors who deal with SMBs on a day-to-day basis often ensure that their resellers are trained to find the best solution to fit the customer’s business requirements as well as technology needs. Working with vendors who are dedicated to SMEs and their requirements ensures the best solutions for customers to help them drive their business forward and ensures higher profit margins can be made.
Raj Meghani is head of marketing,PS&SD at Lexmark
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