Articles Automated Supplies Management

Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Louella Fernandes

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Automated supplies management: Improving SMB Productivity


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Automated supplies replenishment can provide the ideal opportunity for SMBs to minimise downtime and reduce the administrative burden of manual supplies management. Managed Supplies Service offerings such as Xerox Supplies Services (XSS) enable SMBs to improve efficiencies and channel partners to build longer term customer relationships.

Many SMBs (small and medium businesses) still depend on printing to some extent. A recent Quocirca study1 revealed that overall, 75% of SMBs across Europe believed printing to be critical or very important to their business activities. More of this printing is in colour, which continues to grow in popularity as SMBs can now affordably produce professional colour documents in-house without compromising on quality. This growth in colour printing has implications on supplies expenditure – over half of SMBs agreed that colour costs (both consumables and running costs) were on the increase.

Clearly this reliance on print comes at a cost. Printer downtime due to device failure or depletion of supplies can have a significant impact on business continuity. All too often, printers can place a huge administrative and support burden on SMB resources that are already stretched. On average, SMBs say that they are devoting approximately 12% of their IT resources to print management with almost a third expect the burden to rise, particularly smaller SMBs. One area ripe for efficiency improvement is supplies management which is typically characterised by ad-hoc manual purchasing processes which can be a huge administrative burden, diverting staff from their core business activities.

SMBs are certainly keen to drive improvements in this area. Quocirca’s research reveals that almost 60% of SMBs considered automated supplies replenishment to be important or very important capabilities for their print environment regardless of whether they use MPS or not.

 

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Some larger SMBs are already evaluating a managed print service (MPS) as a way to tackle the spiralling costs and inefficiencies associated with unmanaged printing. For SMBs not quite ready to sign up for an MPS contract, the emergence of new managed supplies services that offer automated supplies management are bridging the gap.

One such offering is Xerox Supplies Service (XSS). XSS enables SMBs to purchase supplies through their chosen supplier without the need for a contract. The free cloud-based service enables channel partners to remotely track all of their customers’ supplies levels and automatically replenish supplies in advance

SMBs can reap a range of benefits. Productivity is improved as XSS eliminates the administrative burden of ad-hoc manual supplies ordering as well as the stockpiling of supplies. This allows staff free to focus on core business activities. Meanwhile, uptime and availability of devices can be maximised through remote monitoring, which can also help track usage and help SMBs tackle escalating costs.

Additionally, the use of Xerox replacement toner and cartridges ensures high quality printing whilst offering savings of up to 25% on supplies for major printer brands. The use of Xerox supplies also minimises the risk involved in using cheaper third party compatibles as Xerox states that its supplies adhere to stringent quality assurance measures.

With many SMBs still reliant on printing, yet not have the dedicated resources to devote to print management tasks, it is vital that they start evaluating services such as XSS. Xerox has developed a simple, contract-free programme that addresses the productivity challenges SMBs face in ensuring supplies are readily available before they diminish. Not only will customers reduce their administrative burden and have the assurance of never running out of supplies, they can also benefit from better cost control and improved business productivity.  Equally, automated services such as XSS provide the first step to a broader MPS should this be required in the future.

References

1 Quocirca Report: The MPS Opportunity for SMBs

 

 

 


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About the Author

With 25 years’ experience in the print industry, Louella Fernandes is a respected and globally recognised analyst focusing on the evolution of print in the digital age. Louella is currently Associate Director for Print Services and Solutions at Quocirca.



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