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Office National makes Epson products more accessible to SMEs

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The Epson brand has been given a boost in the small and medium enterprise (SME) market in South Africa with the conversion of a number of independent office product stores to Office National stores, all of which stock and sell Epson products.

With approximately 17 000 active SME customers (organisations that employ between one and 20 staff members) on its books, Office National is one of Epson’s biggest resellers of equipment and consumables to the SME market.
Office National is also a member of the Epson Channel Partner Programme. The Programme aims to create new business opportunities and support business growth for Epson’s channel partners, as well as to assist and encourage them to achieve goals and targets for the year ahead.
Office National is in the process of accepting applications for the conversion of independent office product resellers to Office National branches and hopes to have a total of 154 outlets up and running throughout South Africa in the coming years.
This move is particularly beneficial to consumers in outlying and rural areas, were vendors such as Epson do not have a physical presence.
There are currently 61 Office National outlets spread across SA, with a total of 73 scheduled by the end of 2008 and around 100 by the end of 2010.
“In today’s cut-throat office product business, independent SME stores can find it difficult to operate competitively if the volumes of stock that they need to buy are not as large as the volumes snapped up by the bigger, more established office product retailers in SA,” says Ryan Bidgood, CEO of Office National.
“Bringing independent office product stores together under one brand,” he says, “increases their bargaining power and ensures that they can get the best possible price when purchasing equipment for resale."
Hans Dummer, regional manager for Epson Southern Africa, adds: “While Epson products are widely available to resellers through our distributors and the retail sector, SMEs have been somewhat limited in their ability to access these products through larger distributors based purely on the smaller volumes that they would typically purchase.
“Office National’s adoption of a ‘dealer group’ structure means that even smaller office products stores will have access to competitive cost prices on Epson products, creating a more competitive environment in both major economic centres and outlying areas around South Africa.
“In addition, Epson has an ongoing strategy to continue the brand’s growth throughout South Africa, particularly in these smaller, outlying areas, and Office National is a great vehicle to help us achieve our growth targets,” he adds.
Unlike a franchise model, Office National outlets are independently owner-run and operate under the Office National brand.
“This gives business owners the motivation to do well in their business, while having cost-effective access to the wide variety of products that Office National stocks,” Bidgood adds.