What You Need To Know To Boost Your Receipt Printer Sales
Vendors tell you how to maintain – or even increase – your sales in spite of retailer spending cutbacks.
Business Solutions, March 2009
Take Advantage Of Vendor Resources
First, make sure you’re partnering with the best vendors and distributors. “A good vendor should know its advantages over its competitors and be willing to share that information with the reseller, particularly if that reseller can provide details on the specific application it is working on,” says Kyle Turner, senior vice president of corporate development for CognitiveTPG. “Many suppliers of peripheral devices are willing to offer extended levels of sales, marketing, and technical support even if the customers don’t buy direct. In some instances, pricing support is also available if the VAR is quoting on a budgeted opportunity of reasonable volume.”
Make full use of your vendors’ and distributors’ expertise and resources to complement your own. “In a recent discussion regarding a hybrid printer opportunity, we learned that the VAR was trying to sell a product to the customer that was ‘over-featured’ for the application,” explains Turner. “Once the VAR shared with us information on the application, such as the type of printing, forms used, printing volumes, and current hardware being used, we were able to work with the VAR and direct him to a different product that was better suited for the customer and application. The new product recommendation also created significantly more margin opportunity for the VAR than the original requested product.”
Sell Value, Not Features
These days, it’s no longer possible to walk into a customer’s site with a prepackaged sales pitch and walk out with a sale. “VARs need to understand what that customer does, how they do it, and what technologies they currently have in place,” says Barry Wise, senior marketing consultant, Epson America, Inc. “You need to be able to talk intelligently about how products and services will benefit that specific retailer. In order to be successful, you need to know how the retailer functions, then offer products and services that complement the way that particular retailer does business.”
This means being able to make the case for how your solution will benefit an end user’s bottom line – in real, concrete terms. “Many VARs sell on price,” Turner notes. “The VAR that can sell value will enjoy the smallest drop in margins during these tough economic times. There are many receipt printers on the market, with surprising variations in price, feature sets, and reliability. The VAR that can understand the needs of the end user and make sure that they aren’t paying for features they don’t need, missing features they do need, or sacrificing reliability for purchase price – this is the most common – will be able to return a proposal, rather than just a quote.”
All VARs should be looking closely at the age of currently installed printers and making the case for how an upgrade could benefit the customer’s bottom line. “Chances are, there are significant savings and ROI associated with an upgrade,” Wise notes. “For example, a VAR may be able to replace printers on a legacy system without refreshing the entire POS, while providing the end user with greater speed and functionality. In addition, retailers that update their printers can realize significant energy savings, which aligns with many retailers’ green store initiatives and saves money overall.” Furthermore, VARs should be able to demonstrate how replacing printers can lead to faster ROI by factoring in the maintenance costs associated with existing printers. “It can make economic sense to upgrade, but VARs will need to educate their customers about how and why it does,” Wise notes.
Christophe Naasz, director, business development, Star Micronics America, Inc., suggests that rather than waiting for your customers’ existing printers to break, be proactive and look for ways to suggest upgrades that bring value. “You should always be looking at whether the current printer color matches the POS system, whether you could increase the speed of the printer, whether you could you mount the printer to the wall or on the side to save counter space, and the like,” he suggests.
Take Advantage Of New Trends
One way to stay in the black is to make sure you’re aware of and ready to support new markets and applications for printers, such as labels in the retail and fast-food markets. “Prepackaged deli food, pizza hospitality, and other retail environments are beginning to use more and more labels,” Turner notes. “In many cases, the end user is forced to purchase the label printer from one source and the POS printer from another. In other instances, the media comes from a third source. Working with a manufacturer that supports product lines in all categories can prove very advantageous. In this scenario, a VAR can leverage its POS printer purchase history to get a discount on label printers and media while it tries to service this space. This approach not only picks up more revenue but if media supplies are included in the opportunity, a sale could turn into a long stream of revenue. With the right supply partner, this market can be tested with no risk.”
Wise adds that ‘restick’ labeling, or using individual, movable, restickable labeling on food and beverage items, is a trend with growing momentum. “Individual item labeling minimizes errors and food waste, while enhancing customer service and improving food handling from order to delivery,” he says. “For example, if a sandwich is labeled with ingredients as well as the customer’s name, it reduces the chance that the wrong sandwich is given to the customer. Orders are more accurate and more personable, which translates into less overall food waste and increased repeat customer business.
Show retailers how using your printers to create customized, dynamic marketing can save them advertising dollars, and you could be well on your way to a new sale. Naasz points out that many printer vendors provide utilities at no cost that VARs can use to develop, in minutes, coupons that can be triggered when specific products are purchased, helping your customers deliver their marketing messages via receipt printers. “Not only can you sell printers, you can also charge for professional services,” says Naasz. Adds Wise,“Cutting functions can make a big impact, as well. For example, some printers offer partial and complete cut options, in which a coupon can be attached loosely to the bottom of a receipt. Retailers like POS technologies that provide options for communicating messages to customers, and sometimes these features are not spotlighted enough.”
Don’t Overlook Recurring Revenue Opportunities
Providing recurring services is still a good source of additional revenue, as all end users will continue to use consumables and require tech support. According to Turner, tech support is the easiest service offering to enter. “A VAR with any type of relationship with a hardware provider is likely privy to technical support beyond that which an end user can get,” he says. “With the product manufacturer supporting the VAR, the VAR can offer support to its customers with little risk. This support can be offered as a differentiating service or as a secondary revenue stream.”
Wise suggests visiting customer sites and offering to clean and service printers or perform other preventative maintenance can give you a leg up. “This is a great strategy, because it accomplishes two things: it shows the customer that the VAR is dedicated and builds on the existing relationship,” he maintains. “It also allows the VAR to experience the retailer’s environment, which helps the VAR make educated recommendations for new products and services.”
Naasz agrees that offering ongoing service is a great way to keep an open communications channel with your customers. “You can provide updates on new technology or software,” he suggests. “You can offer to clean up their POS system – their hard drive and software or their printers and scanners. Propose adding logos or coupons on their receipts, or propose printer options like splash-proof covers or vertical stands. Exchange their printer for a faster one [thermal vs. impact] or one with a different interface [USB or Ethernet].”
Finally, Wise advises making creative marketing efforts to ensure that when your customers do need new products, they think of you. “Some of the more successful VARs are putting together meetings or mini expos where they discuss a series of topics to introduce new technologies and educate about current trends,” he says. “VARs need to position themselves as true partners by cultivating their existing relationships so that when it is time to buy, they are top-of-mind with their customers.”