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 user 2007-01-29 at 9:59:00 am Views: 97
  • #17287

    Ricoh turns to Northamber
    Ricoh wants to recuit 100 VARs by the end of the year Jan 2007
    has signed a distribution agreement with Northamber to help it reach
    its target of recruiting 100 IT VARS by the end of the
    year.Historically, Ricoh’s route to market has been through its stable
    of copier dealers, but the vendor has been tasked with growing its
    share of the UK printer market and claimed IT VARs are essential in
    helping it increase printer sales.Chas Moloney, associate director,
    marketing, at Ricoh, told CRN: “Northamber had a gap in its portfolio
    for one more printer vendor and we were looking for a distributor, so
    it is a good match. Northamber will be involved recruiting resellers;
    it is very much a partnership between us and Northamber.“Ricoh has made
    it difficult for IT VARs to obtain Ricoh printers so the signing of
    Northamber should address this and make us easier to do business with
    for the IT channel.”Henry Matthews, managing director at Northamber,
    said: “There is no doubt that print offers some fantastic opportunities
    for the IT channel, but it is still a tough market to crack. Ricoh has
    demonstrated its intent to establish itself as a major player in this
    market and we are confident that its track record will help to
    distinguish Ricoh from the competition.Louella Fernandes, principal
    analyst at Quocirca, said: “Northamber has relationships with thousands
    of IT resellers, which should help Rioch extend its potential well
    beyond the copier market. However, it will need to make sure its
    offering is compelling enough to displace incumbent suppliers who have
    a stronger brand awareness in the office printing space.“Ricoh also
    needs to offer channel support, such as the total cost of ownership
    tools and supplies management services that are offered by many of its
    competitors.”Martin Ebbage, sales director at rival printer vendor Oki,
    said: “It takes years of development and activity to get a viable
    reseller channel established. Ricoh has a good name in the market, but
    it will have to work on its proposition to the channel. It is a crowded
    market and it will come down to the strength of Ricoh’s products and
    its channel offering.”

    Ricoh UK hopes to score with GelSprinter

    UK’s plans to grow its share of the printer market by working directly
    with resellers have been put on hold following a delay in the launch of
    its GelSprinter printers in the UK. Laura Hailstone reports from
    Ricoh’s dealer conference in MadridAt the beginning of the year, CRN
    exclusively revealed that Ricoh UK wanted to work directly with IT
    resellers for the first time to expand into new sectors and increase
    its share of the printer market The vendor revealed that it had
    embarked upon a six-month trial with its super-distributor Computer
    Connections InternationaL  to help it target resellers. Previously,
    Ricoh’s route to market in the UK had been 70 per cent through its
    copier dealers and 30 per cent direct.In July, Ricoh appointed a
    business-to-business  telemarketing firm, Tangible Results, to target
    4,000 UK resellers . The vendor was looking to recruit 100 IT resellers
    to sell its entire range of printers, including its new low-cost
    desktop printers – the GelSprinters. The printers were due for launch
    in the UK in April, but have since suffered a delay.Speaking to CRN at
    Ricoh’s 2006 dealer conference in Madrid, Paul Cheetham, director of
    dealer sales at Ricoh UK, said: “The global production of the
    GelSprinters has been swallowed up by the Japanese domestic market:
    10,000 GelSprinters were sold in the first month in Japan. Ricoh is
    ramping up production in China to meet global demand, but at the moment
    we are queuing up with other countries for our supply. We are waiting
    until there are enough GelSprinters to meet demand.”Cheetham added that
    he hoped Ricoh UK will receive its quota of GelSprinters by December or
    January, but he is uncertain because of the strong demand for the
    printers in Japan.“In Japan, Ricoh is the equivalent of how [dominant]
    Hewlett-Packard [HP] is in the UK,” he said. “Japan is a guaranteed
    market for Ricoh printers, especia lly with Christmas approaching, so
    for us to announce a launch date is impossible.“We had one firm
    interested in buying 10,000 units, but we can’t pursue that until we
    know when they will be ready to deliver. To get the printer from the
    factory to us could take two months. Our initial allocation was 250,
    which we re ceived and they all went. We are confident that in two or
    three months, these products will be available in the UK. The good
    thing is that we are starting to build relationships with IT resellers,
    so we are doing a lot of the legwork in preparation for the official
    launch.”Ricoh has given itself until the end of 2007 to reach its
    target of recruiting 100 IT resellers.Sofia Dahlqvist, Ricoh’s dealer
    channel marketing manager, said: “The telemarketing campaign went well.
    From the 4,000 resellers that were targeted, 500 showed an interest in
    Ricoh and we are now communicating with them. A lot of resellers didn’t
    realise Ricoh makes printers, so it was a really good exercise in
    creating awareness of the Ricoh brand and product range.”Although Ricoh
    hasn’t signed any resellers yet, Cheetham believes it will happen
    suddenly.“It’s not going to be a gradual process of recruiting IT
    resellers,” he said. “We think it will be a ‘big-bang’ effect at some
    stage. The critical success factor will be the launch of the
    GelSprinters. What’s great is the amount of what I call the ‘welcome
    mat’ reaction we’re getting. Gaining an appointment with an IT reseller
    is one of the easiest things in our business at the moment.”This is
    good news for Richard Allison, Ricoh’s regional sales manager for new
    business, who has been given the task of growing Ricoh’s UK printer
    business.“If there are businesses up and down the country who trust
    Ricoh to put a £5,000 or £10,000 multi-functional device [MFD] in their
    office, on their network, then they will trust us to put a £500 printer
    into their office,” he said. “If they trust us for their high-value
    items, then they will trust us for their low-value items.“My plan is to
    establish relationships with key IT VARs and develop relationships with
    key distributors.”One such distributor is Northamber, which Allison
    revealed Ricoh is in talks with.“Things are looking positive, but it
    isn’t a done deal yet,” he said. “Northamber is an old established
    company that doesn’t take out new partnerships very often. It won’t
    just jump into bed with any print manufacturer.”Philip Grote, research
    analyst at Current Analysis, said that putting the recruitment of
    resellers on pause could be dangerous for Ricoh because it gives
    competitors more time to push their products.“Ricoh needs to go full
    steam ahead and get some contracts signed,” he said. “The Northamber
    deal will give the company access to a large IT reseller base because
    it is more business focused than CCI, but that is only the first
    step.“Ricoh needs to ramp up its channel support programme and give
    VARs the right tools to sell. Total cost-of-ownership tools that show
    cost savings to the client, as well as service programmes that allow
    VARs to lock-in consumables revenue after the hardware is sold, are
    some of the things manufactures are doing to get resellers’ attention.
    Ricoh needs be ready for that.”Grote added that Ricoh’s GelSprinters
    will be competing against HP’s new ink-based print technology –
    Edgeline – which is due for release next spring.Katie Palmer, MFD
    product manager for HP’s Imaging and Printing Group, said: “The
    development of this technology combines the benefits of ink and laser.
    It will arm channel partners with a market-leading technology that has
    some of the best printing speeds, operating costs and reliability in
    its class. This is a very compelling proposition for workgroup printing
    in the enterprise. The products will provide text and graphics print
    quality using specially formulated HP Vivera inks.”Andrew Aikman, sales
    director at Ricoh dealer Capital Solutions, said: “Ricoh UK hasn’t been
    setting the heather on fire with printer sales, but to be fair neither
    have we. So it makes sense for Ricoh to look at a different route to
    market for its printers.“If IT VARs do well with the GelSprinters in
    the small office/home office market and can help to grow Ricoh’s brand,
    then that can only be a good thing for Ricoh’s traditional dealers.”