Recently appointed HP printing boss, Christoph Schell, has hinted at changes to its distribution strategy that could see the vendor's imaging and printing group (IPG) aligned with its personal systems group (PSG).
Schell, who has been in his new post for a month, has already spoken with Ingram Micro, Synnex, Dicker Data and Cellnet. He is currently assessing relative performance. While all four carry PSG products, only Ingram and Synnex currently have access to IPG.
In Europe, where Schell was previously posted, HP categorises distribution partners into two camps - logistics and channel development. He has spoken to local PSG boss, Tony Bill, and Solutions Partner Organisation director, Martin Dare, about the possibility of introducing a similar system for Australia and New Zealand.
If this model was implemented locally, the logistics partner would in effect become a master distributor that other wholesalers would need to source product from.
Ingram Micro, possibly in tandem with Synnex, would be favourite to land this role but Schell said a pure logistics partner like DHL or TNT could also be considered.
"I want to make the indirect model work better because it's cheaper than hiring staff, but we need to further develop the skills within our distributors," he said. "We can do this with money or by changing the structure."
Either way, Schell was keen to see consistency introduced across the HP distribution model so it was perceived as a single company. While a decision would be made within a month, he said any changes would not be implemented until November.
Another focus for Schell would be to reengage the channel in driving its cost-per-page printing model within major accounts. His predecessor, Rebekah O'Flaherty, looked to service top customers through a direct Enterprise Account Program but Schell said this had not been successful in winning business from major competitors like Canon and Xerox. Furthermore, it had alienated some leading HP resellers. "I believe there is a big overlap between direct and indirect business and that's bad because it means we are paying twice," he said. "There are accounts that want the partner back and I don't want to go direct if it hurts our indirect model. We need to be consistent and transparent to partners and customers."
With that in mind, Schell said a revised list of direct accounts would be sent out to IPG partners by the end of the month.
While SMB was the biggest market opportunity, he was alarmed by buying habits in this sector.
"SMB customers are buying from [mass] retailers and we need to find out why resellers are not doing that business," he said. "It's a global trend but it isn't healthy and we are looking into it."
Schell in a nutshell
- 1996- Joined HP Europe imaging and printing group (IPG)
- 1998- Opened IPG Middle East office in Dubai
- 2002- Named general manager of HP Middle East personal systems group (PSG)
- 2005- Made general manager of HP Central Europe, Africa, Middle East and Russia solution partners organisation
- 2006- Replaced Rebekah O'Flaherty as general manager of HP South Pacific imaging, printing and consumer group