Adding Value To Your Bar Code Printers
Recent trends in bar code printing include increased demand for higher-resolution units as well as a demand for portable printers.
Business Solutions, January 1998
"Some VARs are lowering their prices in an effort to compete with box-moving distributors," Hsu says. "But the meaning of VAR is 'value added reseller.' VARs shouldn't have to cut their prices in order to win sales."
Adds Kallaher, "End users have so many choices for buying bar-code printers and other AIDC products (label media, software, etc.). So VARs have to show why end users should buy from them, as opposed to a box mover."
What Constitutes Added Value?
According to Kleist, even following up with customers after the sale can prove valuable. "VARs should be checking back with customers to make sure the products meet the customers' expectations," Kleist says. "That helps the VAR build relationships that lead to repeat sales." Hsu, Kleist and Kallaher say there are a number of other services that can help VARs beat box-moving distributors:
- Application knowledge - According to Kleist, resellers should understand the label requirements of different vertical markets and applications. For example, Kleist says suppliers to automotive manufacturers have to ensure bar code labels on their shipments don't fall off or smudge while in transit.
- Integrated system sales - Resellers also should be selling complementary products like handheld data collection devices (handheld computers), bar code scanners, label media and label design software, Kallaher says. He says resellers also should be able to integrate those products to provide users with "system" solutions. "Integration service is a major weakness of most catalog distributors," he adds.
- Responsive service - Hsu says VARs should give their customers a call-back within 24 hours when they have printer problems.
Hsu, Kleist and Kallaher say VARs should be capitalizing on several recent trends in bar-code printing to increase their sales:
- Higher-resolution printing - According to Kallaher, many users only require a minimum resolution of 203 dots per inch (dpi). However, users who print company logos and graphics on bar codes may prefer 300-400 dpi printers. Several printer vendors have responded by releasing higher-resolution printers. "Logos and graphics generally don't look professional if their resolution is below 300 dots per inch," Kallaher adds.
- Multi-technology printing - Many users print shipping manifests and pick lists in addition to labels. Therefore, VARs shouldn't limit their focus to just "dedicated" bar-code printers. "VARs should consider offering laser printers for users that need more than a label printer," Kleist adds.
- A demand for portable printers - Hsu says portable printers have become increasingly popular in applications like vehicle rental. Some rental agencies allow customers to park the vehicle and report to a worker in the lot. Using a portable printer, the worker prints the customer a receipt on the spot, saving the customer time.