Category analysis: Security and data protection

People are more concerned about security and data protection than ever, which the OP channel should use to its advantage.

A safe bet

On average, UK retail workers throw away 11 London buses-worth of paper every year, a survey by PHS Datashred suggests. This carries a significant amount of potential for insecure data and security breaches, and should be a well-used marketing plug for those that sell shredders. High profile cases of lost documents are more and more frequently in the news, and related privacy cases such as phone hacking highlight even further how important it is to protect information. 

Maureen Moore, VP Marketing and Communications at Fellowes, says: “There has been a continual increase in awareness of security levels. Consumers are more educated and experienced with shredders, and are becoming aware of the differences between the security levels they are considering during purchase. As we view the customer purchase hierarchy, we believe that the shredder security feature, or cut type, is a very important consideration in their purchase.”  

Over the years the security aspects of shredders have become far more sophisticated – cut types include strip cut, cross cut and micro cut to name a few. Users are now able to load the shredder, lock the compartment and walk away knowing that documents are secure and will be disposed of – this also addresses the issue of time wasting, an important factor for any user. 

“That’s why we’ve extended the auto-feed range in 2012 with the launch of 60, 80, 250 and 500 sheet models,” says Chris Gaskell, European Director of Channel Marketing at ACCO. “They’ve overcome this consumer frustration as they automatically shred documents. The user can lock the 250 and 500 sheet models with a code and walk away.”

There are far more sizes of shredders on the market now, as vendors tune into different customers’ needs. “To the home user buying a shredder is about protecting one’s personal identity and not exposing yourself to ID fraud,” says Gaskell. “But in the business environment it’s about not exposing business to risk of fraudulent activity. It is a different message.”

Security aside, businesses will generally require a more industrial-sized shredder with a large sheet capacity, while the small business or SOHO user will require something smaller and more suited to a home office environment. 

As Fellowes’ Moore says, while shredder size comes first followed by security, purchasers will then consider “the type of features they are interested in to make shredding easy, safe or quiet”

Modern marketing

HSM has created an extremely up-to-date way to showcase the security features of its shredders. At Paperworld 2012 the vendor revealed an Apple iPad app (pictured above) that presents HSM’s range in the form of an electronic product catalogue, including technical specifications and product pictures and videos. 

Angelika Lange, Marketing Manager at HSM, says: “To inform the customer in the best way possible about the security and data protection aspects of shredders, we have found a way to visualise this with an iPad app. This informs the user about security aspects, and an animated video shows exactly how each machine shreds a confidential document into strips and small particles. That provides the customer with a better understanding of the different security levels.”

At the moment HSM is using a field test of the iPad tool in its German salesforce, and employees can display each product’s attributes to customers. 

What the law says

When marketing any data protection product to a business, whether for digital or hard copy data, resellers should highlight the laws that everyone must adhere to. These laws are present and similar all around the world, so appealing to consumers’ need to comply is a universal marketing angle. 

ACCO’s Gaskell says: “In the business environment, data security is more about ensuring you’re not exposing the business to potential legal action where you’ve not managed confidential data. In effect, businesses must ensure they have a process that reflects the Data Protection Act.”

For example, in the UK the Data Protection Act specifies that a business “must take appropriate measures against accidental loss, destruction or damage to personal data and against unauthorised or unlawful processing of the data”. The US Fair & Accurate Credit Transaction Act Disposal rule has a similar specification: companies “must properly dispose of such information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorised access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal”

Why not cash in?

Cash security boxes and safes are almost untapped territory for the office products reseller, and the potential is there. Most office products catalogues will feature some form of traditional cash box and security safe. However, some vendors believe that there is a world of opportunity for resellers to stock more products and take market share from specialist security resellers.

Take cash boxes to begin with. According to Joanne Cooney of manufacturer Block in the US, “at present, there is very little, if any, promotional support by office resellers. This is an enormous opportunity. We have found that promotion, without even lowering the price of the product, can show a 50-100% lift in sales”

Thorsten Koehler, Managing Director of Eurasia Agencies, who represents Block in Europe, sees an even bigger opportunity in Europe. “Cash boxes have always been part of the OP dealer’s offer but only to a small extent,” he says. “I wouldn’t call that a security offering. I do think there is a gap in retail-oriented and government-oriented offerings for security items in our industry. In the US Block’s major business is through the power channel, and you would never get the same coverage with these guys in Europe. People in Europe seem to often go through specialised dealers, as
 well as direct.” 

Sales on the up

Sales of these products have been growing in the last few years, perhaps surprisingly. Cooney says: “We are seeing people gravitating towards our standard cash boxes that offer security but at a lower price point. With weather-related evacuations, people are also looking to have a safe means to have important papers together in a fashion that can be transported easily.”

Sales have also been growing of lower-end safes – an area that OP dealers could look to maximise. Consumers tend to purchase higher-end safes through specialist channels, as OP resellers aren’t so geared towards selling such technical products through catalogues or websites, but there is potential with the lower-end products. 

When asked if there’s further mileage in this category for dealers Daniel Thompson, Sales Director at Phoenix Safe in the UK, says: “Yes, definitely. OP companies currently do very well in fire safes, they always have done, but consumers tend to buy a security safe from a locksmith. But there’s room to move. We run training courses around Europe to help dealers understand different safes on offer. 

“Smaller security safe sales have grown in the past three years. People are looking to keep money out of banks and keep it safe. What they do have they want to protect. The dip in sales is in the high-end fire safes, which is big capital expenditure.”