Personal view



A clean slate


by Doug Skeggs, Marketing Director, Systemcare


Everyone is now aware of the hygiene and sanitising issues in the office and workplace environment. Catalogues now contain pages of hand wipes and surface cleaners, telephone and keyboard cleaners. For, Systemcare, the swine flu outbreak last year helped to establish our hand gel as a key consumable product in private brand in all channels across OP and B2B retail. And it’s not showing signs of slowing down.


The Jan/San market is developing rapidly throughout the office products distribution channels. With it happening on a global basis, the challenge for us is to stay ahead of the game. While we have successfully marketed private brands of equipment cleaning products, we have found it is very much more difficult with Jan/San cleaning products. Over many years, many different retail brand names have become established as household names in different countries with the users preferring to purchase the local country brands they obtain for their own use for home in the supermarket.


This makes it very difficult to develop a private brand when competing against the global and local retail manufacturers brands which the end-user continually sees on TV and magazine advertising, and most likely already use them in their home. With huge budgets at their disposal, these companies are spending millions of dollars establishing demand with advertising.


Inevitably, this also brings margin pressure as OP dealers are being forced to ensure they are competitive with the local grocery supermarket/cash and carry store who typically discount such high volume products as disinfectants, washing up liquids, wipes and floor cleaners, etc.


It’s an area we have found extremely difficult to be a margin generator when compared with our office equipment cleaning products such as screen cleaners, telephone cleaners, hand wipes, etc.


We have consequently developed our offering to be more attractive and specialised for our private brand customers and the end-user by growing our portfolio; concentrating on the more unique products where the dealer can make more profit and add value. To compete with the global brands and be successful you must offer something unique to enable customers to compete with the large grocery multiple retailers who carry very large ranges of Jan/San items aimed at the users in the home and office.


Channel partners need to be armed with great product and information to differentiate their offering. For example, we have introduced a range of biocide products which can be added to our existing core range. Importantly for our channel partners, by ensuring these are independently tested they don’t have to take our word to prove they work.


In the future, we will see the traditional Jan/San products growing beyond their existing exposure in the OP catalogues. Already many catalogue B2B globals show comprehensive ranges and some have some superb separate Jan/San facility product catalogues.


There are one or two great examples in the German market where we have seen traditional OP dealers with a thicker Jan/San facility catalogue than the stationery offering. Likewise, we’re also starting to see Jan/San and FM companies selling traditional stationery items.


We are seeing this happen across all the countries we operate in and particularly in the USA. For office products manufacturers (and resellers) this is a very positive trend as a new channel opens up.


It’s not a threat, it’s an opportunity for us all.


Doug Skeggs, Marketing Director, Systemcare Products, now an ITW Company.