Hewlett-Packard will redefine its printing operations to align them with its Internet services in a move the vendor says will create new opportunities within its channel.
Launching two new printers that embody HP's new direction, the company has begun repositioning its strategy to take the printer beyond output and meet its customer's business needs, said HP market development manager, Danielle MacInnis.
"The way the channel has been selling printers in the past is to say, "give me the specs, give me the price and I will pitch the product". Now, [channel players] are trying to get very close to their customers to find out their business needs. Resellers have been crying out for this [repositioning]. The mindset is already there, and we have a more sophisticated customer."
Based on this, HP has structured its printing operations under three pillars. The first takes on the idea of the intersection of devices within the office, so that the printer becomes an appliance which offers new business models to our customers. The second incorporates HP's e-services concept which involves partnerships with printing services such as stamp.com.
"The third pillar revolves around our Internet infrastructure," MacInnis said.
To tie in with this philosophy, HP has released two new printer ranges based on multifunctionality. The Colour LaserJet 4550 family is designed for the SME market, which demands quality and short print-run colour printing. The LaserJet 8150 range is the vendor's highest speed monochrome printer and aimed at the corporate sector.
The new printers feature embedded Web-server technology. While this isolates the technology to one printer, HP has also offered its Web Jet Administration software free to larger customers.
According to the company, the offering will help differentiate HP partners within the channel.
"We are training channel partners on the solution side and trying to build a relationship with those who want to focus on solutions," said HP's marketing development manager of printing solutions and the E-Print business, Annemarie Riga. "And we are not just talking about the printing space," she added. "HP is also guiding partners in its JetCAPS, corporate printing accounting solutions program, whereby resellers also act as distributors for the product."
The new strategy will also help tap into new markets, MacInnis said.
"The channel will provide the hardware and, on the solutions side, they are tapping into markets we haven't been in before."
Resellers could also increase their margins, Riga said. "Margins in the area typically run from 3 to 5 per cent, but by selling solutions, our partners can boost their margins to 10 or 15 per cent."