Why now is the time for dealers to embrace technology
Tech is a huge opportunity staring dealers in the face, but as a channel we seem reluctant to venture into the world of technology. In fact many dealers would rather it not be there. I know this because I recently conducted an independent survey of a number of dealers and asked what their response would be to a customer that asked to buy a laptop. All replied they would send them to PC World, lucky old PC World!
We have to be honest as an industry and say that files and paper are not going to be our bread and butter products in the years to come, and tech products are. You only have to look around your own work place to see it happening: Meeting minutes taken on tablets, emails read from your phone, customer service carried out over Twitter. We’ve stopped printing because it’s all online, we invoice by email, and we use Facebook to communicate internally and externally. All highlighting the fact that we are using traditional office supplies less and less.
Tech is an opportunity tapping dealers on the shoulder shouting “I’m here, your customers want me.” It is the single biggest opportunity that the OP market has even seen and dealers can have a piece of the action if they are prepared to think slightly differently.
In the world of tech everything is different, the products, the distribution, but so are the margins. Many place tech on a pedestal of being a league above, a space for only big players to compete in, but there is one thing that doesn’t change, one thing dealers are really good at… service!
The tech that your customers require, and may even be asking you for now, are an existing part of your business make up – being attentive, being local and responding swiftly with top notch after sales care. These are the qualities of smaller locally focused businesses. Yes, price is always a part of the equation, but when you have formulated a relationship with your customers built on respect and trust it is not easily broken, even from the likes of mega multinationals… but only if what they are looking to purchase is part of your offering.
I think it is time to face reality, it’s an undoubted certainty that the OP industry as we know isn’t going to stay the same and is already shifting. Embracing technology as a sales stream in which you can deliver real value to customers by capitalising on those strongly forged relationships, can only but help to ensure the future success of your business.
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Social Media Surgeries
Superstat are offering one-to-one social media surgeries at their conference on the 20th June at the Oxford Belfry Hotel. Designed to give dealers the tools and confidence to manage their own online presence.
Be it setting up on twitter, learning about social networking or understanding the type of content that will engage their audience, Superstat’s marketing team are hosting a stand to offer advice, guidance and practical help.
Dealers can book in for these one-to-one sessions, where they can raise any queries or even get set-up on a social media site. After the session, they will also have access to guides with tips and tutorials relevant to the office supplies industry.
Marketing Director, Karly Hayley, comments: “The Social Media Surgery is a free-to-access service for those attending the conference, where following feedback from our dealers we’ll be on-hand to assist in building and developing their social strategies to harness the power of social media as a marketing, promotional and branding tool.”
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Cadabra Goes Live
As seen in the Trade Press:
Dealer Group Superstat has gone “live” with Cadabra, the biggest initiative in their 20 year history.
Fully backed by Spicers, Cadabra was announced by Superstat late last year with the objective of delivering substantial, sustainable growth for dealers.
The first dealers to go live are TJ Ryan based in Purfleet and QED based in Buxton, Derbyshire. Both dealers are fully operational on the Oasis system and orders are being taken and processed by Cadabra.
The investment in systems and support to get to the launch stage has been extensive and the group has been working intensively with ex Spicers UK Supply Chain Director Vida Barr-Jones and her team from Barr-Jones Associates as project consultants for the set-up of the project for the last 4 months.
Superstat’s Managing Director Chris Collinson commented:
“The planning and implementation that has taken place behind the scenes is immense, this is a huge project and we wanted to get it right. Vida and her team have expertise in
programme management, systems and logistics that we have been able to utilise to make sure our offering to dealers is first class.”
Superstat are keen to point out that this is a joint venture between the group and Spicers who have worked closely together over the past 20 years, both parties see this as a natural progression of their relationship.
Chris Collinson explains:
“We have a 5 year agreement with Spicers to support this project. Our experience of growing dealers combined with Spicers logistics and product expertise means that we can offer the dealer and consumer a relevant, competitive and exciting new proposition that puts the dealer in a position of strength where they can take advantage of the economies of scale normally associated with multinationals.”
Spicers CEO Alan Ball commented:
“The first two Cadabra dealers going “live” is a landmark for the industry and marks a new dawn in the way that dealers run their business. Superstat has had our full backing from the start and we are pleased to be part of such an exciting development for the dealer
HP Paper Exclusive
In a unique arrangement, Superstat has entered into a major collaboration with Spicers, PaperlinX, International Paper and HP to deliver an exceptional service for their members. They can now purchase HP paper by the box from Spicers or by the pallet (40 boxes +) from PaperlinX all at a preferential price.
The arrangement includes the full HP range of papers which includes: HP Office; HP Everyday; HP Printing and HP Colour Laser.
This collaboration has been entered into to drive efficiencies within the supply chain and thus deliver benefits to our Dealers. Superstat have also had this arrangement backed by International Paper who make the paper and HP the brand owners, where this agreement is an ongoing long term initiative.back to top
NVQ Success for Kyle Spellman
As seen in the Trade Press:
The Office Supplies Supermarket, the online brand of Superstat is celebrating the success of their Customer Service Representative Kyle Spellman who has been awarded NVQ level 3 in Customer Service.
Kyle joined the company 2 years ago as an apprentice and has worked within the business while studying for the qualification.
General Manager Frank Cassidy commented: “At interview Kyle stood out as someone who really wanted to get on in life. Kyle has worked hard and progressed from an apprentice and become an invaluable member of our team. We are really proud of him and his achievements; he has a great future with the company.”
Group Marketing Director Karly Haley commented: “We have uncovered some real talent in Kyle from the Progressions UK Apprentice Programme and there are many more young people out there that don’t want to take the traditional educational route and want to work while they learn. Kyle is at the front end of our customer service team taking calls from business customers, identifying sales opportunities and training new recruits in the role. As a business we are very proud of Kyle’s achievements and would encourage other businesses to take a serious look at taking an apprentice on.”back to top
Superstat Sign New Print Services Supplier
The Superstat Group is delighted to announce the addition of Wright Printing Services (WPS), a trade division of the Paragon Group, to their approved supplier portfolio. Superstat dealers will benefit from an extensive portfolio of print products and services offered by WPS, as well as the customer service and support that has become synonymous with the respected trade printer.
Dealers who are already providing printed services for their customers, will also benefit from the partnership through the wide scope of products available from WPS, with the reassurance that they are working with a supplier that has proven experience and understanding of servicing the trade print market.
Tim Webster, WPS Business Development Manager comments: “With previous experience of both the print and office supplies industry we were in an ideal position to offer a trade print solution to Superstat Group members and I am delighted to announce that we have become the preferred print partner and supplier to the network. We have the scale and capability to manage requirements from businesses both large and small and look forward to assisting members with their print requirements.”
Richard Lockley, Commercial Manager at the Superstat Group added “As a growing business we are always evolving and offering a greater portfolio of products to our dealers. This partnership with WPS will allow us to bridge the gap to members who require trade print services and want to use a company they can rely on. We are very much looking forward to working with WPS and to delivering more of what our members want.”back to top
Superstat Break Sales Records
The Superstat Group sales on Newell Rubbermaid products via Spicers has broken records by achieving the biggest spend ever in January 2013; a 12% increase on January 2012 which in itself was an exceptional month.
Graeme Hargreaves, Commercial Director at The Superstat Group comments on the achievement: "Over the last few years we've put an incredible amount of work into our approved supplier programme, from developing measurable marketing plans through to working with the business development teams in order to really sell in the programme. It's a two-way process, and these results are a direct result of the strong relationships we have with our suppliers and their long term support of our initiatives."back to top
Royal Mail Ink Colour requirements change for the UK.
Royal Mail have announced that users of “Smart” franking machines will in future use blue ink instead of red Ink, there is to be an orderly organic migration from red ink to blue ink and suppliers and end users are to exhaust their current stocks of red ink before starting to sell/use the new blue inks so there is no need to discard red ink cartridges held by users. Transition commences forthwith and red inks will be replaced with blue inks as soon as is practical or stock levels dictate.
The following known Manufacturers models are identified and affected by this transition:
DM400-1000 (Mega Range)
ALL IS series machines (IS240 -IS480)
Frama and Francotyp Postalia models concerned are still to be confirmed by these manufacturers, the advice from Royal Mail is that Francotyp Postalia and Frama users who reclaim VAT on postage by way of a VAT invoice from Royal Mail will most probably be affected by this transition to blue ink and will need to use blue ink in future subject to the previous provisions.
Please note there is a small chance when customers (PITNEY BOWES MODELS ONLY) change from red to blue ink, their print head may faildue to normal wear and tear on the machines print head and this would have occurred with a replacement cartridge from any source, please note that Pitney Bowes classify the print head as a consumable item. – Our own testing has shown that this will normally ONLY OCCUR when the print head has reached its natural end of life and this failure would have most likely have occurred even if the change of colour had not taken place. As such in these instances we WILL NOT be issuing free replacement print heads as this is not due to a cartridge or ink induced fault as covered by our warranties but due to normal wear and tear on the machine .We will of course be able to supply printheads that you can sell to your customers in this eventuality becoming reality.
Totalpostblue ink cartridges already exist and are fully compliant with Royal Mail ink specifications so changes will be minimal with the following codes being applicable to blue ink cartridges in future:
Pricing and Part Numbers
Totalpost Blue ink cartridges will not carry any additional cost surcharges compared against equivalent red cartridges.
Part numbers for the affected cartridges are as follows
10244-801 IS330-480 (Standard Capacity)
10260-801 IS420-480 (High Capacity)
If you have any further questions regarding this transition to Blue ink, please raise them via your normal contact who is John Dennison, who will be happy to provide all possible assistance to make this transition as simple as possible for you and your customers.back to top
Superstat Sign Evolution Deal
The Superstat Group have signed a deal with e-commerce solutions provider Evolution, in order to enhance their ecommerce portfolio. Sitting alongside the Group's entry-level online ordering solution - OPO - and the tier 2 solution - Orderstore/zone - the Evolution software partnership will give those members who have made the decision to use Evolution, preferential rates when ordered as a Superstat member.
Andy Whyte, Sales & Marketing Director at Evolution Software adds:
"At Evolution we're all about providing the very best in eCommerce to our customers by giving them the tools to win, maintain and maximise even the most complicated accounts. We recognise that Superstat are no different in that they also set out to help their members achieve growth by offering a great set of tools and services.
We hope the Evolution eCommerce platform will be another great tool that the Superstat members can use to help them keep moving their businesses forward."
Richard Lockley, Commercial Manager, comments on the recent partnership: "Having a well developed eCommerce programme that caters for a variety of different dealers of dealer is one of the things that really sets us apart as a dealer group so adding Evolution to our portfolio is a logical addition. We recognise that it makes sense for two forward thinking companies to work together, having a wider variety of online tools can only benefit our members.back to top
Superstat Dealer Scoops Recycling Award
Superstat dealer, Aston & James, has scooped the 2012 Superstat Recycling Award, and not for the first time ... this is the third year in a row they have picked up the award!
The Recycling Award, which is run in conjunction with ERS Europe Ltd and Superstat, rewards the organisation who collects the most used ink cartridges over the course of the year. Aston & James topped the leader board, collecting a massive 9,940 units, the proceeds from which they've donated to the Blue Cross charity, which helps animals in their local area.
Darren Aston, MD of Aston & James comments on retaining the award... " I am extremely proud of my team for a third year running. It's great for the environment, our customers benefit as it removes the headache of moving their used toners on, our drivers are already on site so it costs nothing and our nominated beneficiary has been the Blue Cross for recycling toners. Our customer service team and drivers have been fantastic in removing the used toners. We will continue to do our bit for the environment we have our eyes firmly fixed on smashing 10,000 recycled units this year!”back to top