Sell Mobile Printing To Multiple Verticals
Experts reveal the markets VARs should be targeting for mobile printing sales growth potential.
What an exciting time to be a VAR selling mobile printing solutions! Whereas many VARs selling other solutions have been forced to look for new markets or niche applications to grow sales, mobile printing VARs have a variety of booming markets to choose from. I talked to five mobile printing experts and got their points of view on some of the hottest markets you might want to consider for your mobile printing solutions.
Ravi Panjwani, director of marketing at Brother International, believes that the field service market is where VARs should be looking. This market is composed of telecommunications, HVAC, construction, home healthcare, facilities maintenance, insurance, and utility companies. The primary mobile printing applications within these markets include service estimates, sales orders, delivery confirmations, invoicing, point of sale receipts, home healthcare reports, and insurance claims.
Panjwani goes on to detail a few of the issues currently facing this market. First, many field service companies, like most other industries, want to do more with a smaller workforce. However, doing so requires higher productivity. Mobile solutions that include mobile printers help to allow field service personnel to spend less time completing service calls. Second, field service companies commonly try to differentiate themselves and gain market share by providing enhanced customer service. Mobile solutions that include mobile printers help improve the customer service experience leading to greater customer retention and acquisition of new customers through referral. Third, record keeping by hand leads to errors and low customer satisfaction.
Marty Johnson, mobile workforce practice leader at Zebra Technologies, has more information for VARs. "In general, automation of the field worker will typically require four major components: a handheld device, application software to reside on the handheld, mobile printers, and back end software." The other items that often are overlooked by the VAR are printer media (off-the-shelf and custom) and service for the printers and handheld terminals/computers.
If you need further convincing, Johnson has some analyst information you might want to note. "Venture Development Corporation [VDC] estimates that the compound annual growth rate [CAGR] of the mobile printer market through 2011 will exceed 10%," says Johnson. "Within the various mobile printing vertical submarkets, the fastest growing 'outside the four walls opportunities' will exist in the field workforce. VDC forecasts that this particular subvertical will have a CAGR through 2011 of 15%."
Don't Miss Retail Mobile Printing Sales Opportunities
Russ Corace, executive VP of Printek, Inc., says that VARs not currently doing so should check out selling mobile printing label solutions for warehouses, retail, and manufacturing. "Warehouse and retail label printing traditionally is one of the largest vertical segments of the mobile printer space. However, desktop label printing in these areas far exceeds the use of mobile printers," explains Corace. "With the trend toward decreasing costs and increasing worker productivity, many organizations are finding that great gains can be made by printing labels at the point of need instead of having to preprint labels or retrieve labels printed at a central station." Therefore, the target market Corace recommends to VARs is the population of users who currently print labels with desktop thermal label printers, but who could benefit from the increased productivity of moving printing off the desk and onto the hip.
Jeff Osborne, VP of branding and communications for O'Neil Product Development, also feels that the retail market has great potential for sales opportunities. "Retailers have embraced bar coding and labeling for 20 years," he says. "This market has been using portable printers since their advent. With that in mind, many printers are reaching end of life, representing a significant sales opportunity for VARs." Osborne says the number of retail labeling applications has expanded, thus increasing demand. Mobile printers are used for high-volume price markdowns, shelf labeling, shelf talkers (larger shelf labels used to call attention to a product), and tags for garment hangers. When pitching mobile printing to a retailer, Osborne has some advice. "Retailers are very price-sensitive and look for technology that can add value in a number of different ways," he says. "In addition, VARs looking to land retail mobile printing sales should be contacting the retailer's IT group."
Public Safety Growth Leads To Mobile Printing Sales
Adam Ortlieb, associate director of marketing at Seiko Instruments, says that his company is seeing impressive growth in the public safety market. His contention is supported by a VDC study, which found that public safety generated approximately 9% of mobile printer revenue in 2006. Double-digit growth is projected through 2010 for overall enterprise mobility solutions in the government sector, including public safety and other federal, state, and local programs. But where, exactly, is the need? "Even in midsize cities, law enforcement agencies can generate tens of thousands of citations per year, resulting in a staggering amount of paperwork to process," says Ortlieb. "Tickets have to be written accurately and legibly, information has to be coordinated among officers, police departments, and courts, and the data has to be archived in an accessible format. Managing all of this manually can be a monumental task which can delay or negate payments to the municipality."
A good solution includes mobile printers (as well as mobile computing devices, such as PDAs or laptops) that allow officers to generate citations or reports. For traffic citations, the printers are mounted in police cruisers and on motorcycles. For parking citations, all of the hardware can be carried.
To justify the investment in a mobile printing solution, VARs should strive to quantify the direct financial impact of the project based on the reduction in data collection errors, missing documentation, and lost payments. A new mobile printing solution also can eliminate a number of manual data processing tasks by clerks at the law enforcement agency and courthouses. "Based on the typical needs of law enforcement agencies, a project in this market can be bundled into a turnkey solution sale, incorporating hardware, software, integration, support services, and consumables," explains Ortlieb. However, there is a catch. "Law enforcement customers want to know that a system has been proven in the field and is endorsed by other law enforcement personnel. Developing reference accounts is vital for success," concludes Ortlieb.