Staples has launched a formal managed print services (MPS) solution in the US via the Technology Solutions arm of its Staples Advantage B2B division.
The office supplies giant has been developing its MPS programme for the last couple of years, ramping up expenditure on resources in the last 12 months or so.
It says that companies will be able to achieve print-related cost savings of between 15-30% by switching to its managed solution in comparison to a traditional non-managed print environment.
“With organisations spending nearly 10% of their annual budgets on printed materials and services, and the growing priority to improve all facets of modern print management, it is critical for companies to enhance processes and drive visibility into spending within this category,” said Christopher Dwyer, Senior Analyst for the Aberdeen Group.
It’s no surprise that Staples has joined a growing number of MPS providers. It could be argued that it is a bit late to the party. One reason that Staples hasn’t entered the MPS space earlier is no doubt because it has developed its own solution rather than partner with an established player such as one of the OEMs (as Office Depot did in Europe in April last year with Xerox).
Speaking to OPI, Ed Ludwigson, General Manager for Staples Technology Solutions, confirmed that while Staples has partnered with certain – unnamed – third-party companies, the core fleet management, consumables replenishment and billing software has been developed internally.
As well as investments in IT, Staples has been recruiting MPS team members, both in terms of sales and operational people. Although Ludwigson declined to reveal how many staff had been taken on, he admitted that MPS represented a “significant investment”
Staples has been working with several customers and in specific regions over the last few months to develop and fine tune its MPS solution. This has been possible, in part, to existing relationships it has from its Technology Solutions division and Ludwigson says it is not now a question of having to go out looking for the first MPS customer.
“A position to win”
The basic components of the Staples offering are familiar: TCO assessment of the current print fleet including indirect costs; a consultative approach with customers to come up with a solution that best fits their needs; a contract that includes hardware, supplies and service bundled into a single monthly bill.
Ludwigson points out that solutions can include optimising a customer’s current print fleet and are not necessarily about “rip and replace”. Where capital investment is required, Staples is offering both short- and long-term financing solutions.
Another key point is that any solution is brand neutral. “We can even offer multi-brand solutions, if necessary,” added Ludwigson. “We have deep relationships that cover all manufacturers and brands. Couple that with our supply chain and e-commerce capabilities and we believe that puts us in a position to win in MPS.”
A nice idea that Staples has incorporated into the programme is the donation of “gently used” equipment which is no longer required by MPS customers. The initiative, called PrintStart, involves Staples working with Small Business Development Centers across the US.
Staples will be targeting medium to larger enterprises, from about 200 seats up to companies with thousands of employees. It obviously has a large, existing client base to target and Ludwigson says that it will also be going after new accounts.
Initially, the programme will only be available in the US. Ludwigson confirmed that he was talking to colleagues in other countries and regions, but didn’t give an idea as to when, or if, MPS would be introduced elsewhere.
“Staples’ goal is to offer complete solutions for your office, and printing is a big component of what that is today,” concluded Ludwigson. “Print environments are becoming more complex and we see the development of an MPS solution as a natural evolution for us.”