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The label printing world is a fairly specialist one, and for that reason the pressure is on the vendors that operate in that market to come up with innovations that can make life easier for partners.
Brother stood back and looked at what it could do to make changes and realised that it had always been at the forefront of the market from a technology point of view, so it needed to look at other angles of the partner and customer relationship.
This led to the decision to launch a hardware-as-a-service option and offer partners the chance to pitch a Managed Label Service (MLS) to customers.
“At this point in time, it was about enhancing our value proposition. If people enjoy working with us, what is it that we can grow on in terms of that relationship, other than just the hardware, what is a commercial relationship?” said Ged Cairns, head of auto ID business unit at Brother UK.
He added that the acceptance of a subscription model was already there in other parts of the business so it was not too much of a leap to extend that concept to the label printers themselves, offering software and services that would be delivered in a monthly plan.
“Brother being a strong managed print services organisation – that seems to be on a roll with us. We are attracting more and more new business, so there seems to be a propensity within our customer base and our reseller base to think of hardware as a service,” he added.
Cairns said that the initial response from partners had been positive and the business had seen requests coming in from customers that wanted demonstrations.
“We have been strong in all our market research. I spoke to some influences in our market who were very savvy and quite entrepreneurial, and they all gave me the advice that if you did this, then it will be something that the market would respond [to] very positively,” he said.
He added that as customers reacted and recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to offer more flexibility with the as-a-service approach was one that would appeal to many users.
There is also a sense that the market opportunities are going to expand, with Natasha’s Law coming into effect later this year, forcing companies to label their products for allergens to help those at risk avoid potentially fatal consequences.
“With the allergen information labelling programme that’s going to be required for pre-packed food that’s coming into hospitality establishments, we’re getting inquiries daily for those kinds of solutions and we are placing those through channel partners,” he said.
At the same time, the pandemic has forced many businesses online and seen an increase in the goods and services that are couriered around the country. Those developments have also helped those resellers that cover label printing.
“The world would not survive without the barcode anymore. It’s used by all the courier drivers to ensure the right parcel goes to the right place at the right time. So it becomes far more important and integral to supply chain than ever before,” added Cairns.