Printer manufacturer QMS has just signed a distribution deal with Mitsui Computer. ARN's Molly Furzer and Paul Zucker met with QMS MD Alastair Watts and Mitsui sales director David Wallis to see how they plan to use the channel.
ARN: How has the sales and distribution model changed for QMS in the last few months and what will Mitsui add to this?
Watts (QMS): QMS Australia has spent the last six months realigning itself in terms of products, internal structure and customer relationships. The new structure of QMS Australia now echoes the successful business partnerships we have established throughout other regions, meaning we are positioned specifically with our resellers in mind. QMS business is reseller business; the company structure, business partners and product portfolio now reflects this.
The addition of Mitsui Computer will add a level of support and stability to our new and existing customer base from a national point of view and will enable QMS to be more flexible to our channels and react quickly to this ever changing reseller market.
ARN: How would you characterise Mitsui as a distributor?
Wallis (Mitsui): Over the past 18 years, we've attempted to provide resellers with what they need - not just in product - but also with services that are "non chargeable". This extends to hotline technical support, a "no questions asked" very fast warranty service and turnaround, assistance in reseller marketing programs, help with demonstration equipment etc.
We've specialised in the general Windows productivity tool market, the high end of the graphics market, the document imaging business, and the open systems business centred around our long-standing relationship with Sun Microsystems. Our resellers are from the broad spectrum of the channel as well as specialist niche resellers. Our product mix includes products from Macromedia, Quark, Power Computing, Sun, Allied Telesyn, CalComp, Agfa, Cornerstone, as well as many other leading brands.
ARN: And how does the QMS range fit in with this?
Wallis: It's just the perfect fit! Both for Mitsui and QMS, but importantly, also for the reseller channel in general. There are two points to raise in this regard: Mitsui's current reseller customer base and markets cover all of the QMS areas of speciality, and secondly, our existing product range is very complementary to the QMS range - in other words, no conflicts! Which'll mean that we'll be able to promote QMS very strongly into the Australian market.
ARN: What attracted you to Mitsui?
Watts: Apart from the obvious reasons of choice for a distributor, the attraction of Mitsui Computer came from many different aspects. Mitsui has been operating a successful channel business for many years and is well respected throughout the reseller market and will be able to carry QMS products to the resellers for today and beyond.
Mitsui sells a number of products that compliment our own range and, just as importantly, our product range doesn't conflict with any of their existing vendors. Also, QMS' own business will be changing in terms of selling a whole range of "different" products in the oncoming years and Mitsui will be able to adapt to this for the future.
But most importantly, Mitsui does not sell ten different printer vendor products and therefore would be focused on the entire range to offer the sales and technical support the channel is looking for.
As far as QMS is concerned, the question of what makes distribution, good distribution, and good distribution into great distribution is focus and service; Mitsui can deliver this to the channel.
ARN: How does the QMS range fit into the marketplace?
Watts: The question is too broad to explain in detail because QMS has a wide product portfolio that encompasses so many different markets. We are specialist in providing our channel with a product line which they can sell with confidence and which fits into most markets from the home office right the way through to the high-end graphical, imaging, print on demand, network printing, high speed, high volume, low speed, low volume, monochrome and colour markets.
QMS has the product to cover most markets and most customer requirements.
ARN: How do you react to the assertion that QMS has been underexposed to date? What will you be doing to change that?
Watts: Since the introduction of QMS into the Australian market some nine years ago, underexposure is not something we have suffered from; however, what I would say is that since our recent company structure change in Europe and here in Australia we have taken our time to ensure the correct changes have been made to drive QMS forward into the future. These are exciting times for QMS from a direction and product point of view and we want the channel to be part of it.
The channel will shortly be seeing a number of incentives and programs that will alert them to the opportunities available in getting behind and selling QMS products - Watch this space!
ARN: What can resellers hang their hats on? Is it quality, total cost of ownership, compatibility, ease of selling?
Watts: I think you've hit the nail on the head there Paul, all of the above! The channel recognises QMS as a quality brand. The products have been positioned in "product families" with an entry level product that will be price driven, such as the recently released Magicolor WX, then either an easy upgrade path or a more superior product in features that the resellers can sell up to, depending on the customer requirement. But a key element of the business for the resellers will be the extended and ongoing business from consumables - they can hang their hats, coats, and gloves on that!
ARN: What does synergy between vendors and distributors mean in this case?
Watts: The synergy aspect between Mitsui and QMS and vice versa is simple, the product fits and the distribution company fits. Both QMS and Mitsui understand the business of distribution and what we can realistically deliver to the channel, without causing conflicts.
All the current vendor products that Mitsui carry today from their graphic, imaging, Windows, Mac and open systems business works well with the QMS line up and they have the focus to take the product to the channel in a manner that will make it easy for resellers, whatever shape or size, to sell QMS.
ARN: How does the new $495 laser printer fit into the lineup and who do you expect to sell and buy it?
Watts: The new Desklaser 600 laser printer is somewhat out of the fold of traditional QMS products but gets us back into the markets which we had great success with, with our PS410 product a few years ago. The Desklaser will be our entry level laser and at $495 we will be back in the "hard end" of the market, but the beauty with this unit is the toner and the ongoing revenues the resellers can expect from the "keyed" consumable. The product will be available in February and is available to all resellers who want it.
ARN: What new QMS technology can we expect to see in the near future?
Watts: The next twelve months will deliver a number of new technologies including high speed inkjets, multifunction devices and "enabling products", including some strategic alliances between other vendors which we'll be offering to the channel. An example of this is our very recent agreement with Pantone to distribute, through Mitsui, their range of software products and colour matching books and our new Q-Doc System for producing collated, stapled and trimmed booklets at speed.