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 user 2004-01-19 at 4:33:00 pm Views: 64
  • #4730
    Headline: Inkjet supplies – can other retailers compete against the office product superstores?

    If you have turned on the TV, listened to the radio or looked at a newspaper in the past week most likely you have run across advertisements from one -if not all-of the office product superstores.

    These advertisements focus on multiple areas including: product selections, in-stock guarantees, recycling efforts and low prices. With large ad budgets, office product superstores have launched their aggressive push to be-all-to-end-all for inkjet supplies, posing the looming question; can other retailers compete in the inkjet supplies marketplace?

    Over the past two years marketing inkjet supplies has evolved into a tough market because retailers enjoy the high margins inkjet supplies return. Today more emphasis is placed on product selections, promotions, merchandising and the correct “supplies” positioning statement. As a matter of fact Staples has positioned its cartridge in-stock guarantee to resemble the Boy Scout oath. Who can compete with the Boy Scouts? A Boy Scout can always be trusted and they will never let you down. Staples has created a strong positioning statement within the supplies marketplace, and you will find Staples in-stock “oath” on all marketing collateral.

    Staples has thus far created one of the strongest “supplies” guarantee declarations, which states if Staples does not have your desired cartridge in-stock the product will be delivered free and the customer will receive a certificate for a ten dollar discount, or can use that ten dollars towards a compatible or remanufactured cartridge available for immediate purchase. This “supplies” position from Staples has set the standard for other retailers to follow. Since Staples took the lead in establishing a strong marketing positioning it will take getting back to the retail basics and intuitive thinking to win over a “Boy Scout”. Office Depot has met Staples marketing challenge head on by continuing to promise everyday low prices, express checkout, and guaranteed in-stock supplies

    If Office Depot does not have a product in-stock then the retailer will ship the product for free directly to the customer, and this is nice, but Staples offers a $10 discount. Offering everyday low prices is not enough today, that has been done by Wal-Mart and they have cornered the market on low prices. Office Depot wins with its “Ink Depot” station within the retail stores. Office Depot provides direct customer service in locating the correct cartridge for a printer. Providing customer service is a basic function that has been lost with the rise of the superstore, and this will create some competition for a “Boy Scout”.

    The big question remains; can other retailers compete in the inkjet supplies marketplace? The answer is yes, but a retailer must recognize they are not in the same market as an office product superstore, and they can not be everything to all customers. Retailers must also acknowledge a need for a supplies mission statement, without this you are lost in a large sea. This statement should be promoted and familiar to customers, “We have the ink for your printer today!” Offering every inkjet cartridge a manufacturer provides is not smart; shelf space is just too limited. It is best to focus on the top selling SKUs and mix the product selection with bundled items that save customers money, time and frustration.

    If a retailer can provide a “supplies” mission statement, offer a well thought-out product selection, and throw in a little bit of the “Boy Scout” can-do attitude with customer service, then success can be reached in selling inkjet supplies.