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Realising the true value of print

On 6th November it was ‘World Paper Free day’ and while many businesses aspire to paperless offices, printing still remains an important part of business processes. And in front offices up and down the country, ‘managed print services’ (MPS) have become one of the most widely accepted and effective means for large and, increasingly, small and medium sized enterprises to:
• Reduce print costs (typically saving around 30%)
• Improve productivity
• Support environmental responsibilities
• Enhance document security
So, looking through the warehouse door, how much of the concept of MPS has rubbed off and been applied to back office print services? And I’m talking here about the machines that faithfully pump out barcode labels, the ones that keep your goods moving through the supply chain.
I’m constantly amazed when I go onto sites how many logistics operations happily have MPS contracts in place for their front office functions but have neither considered it for their back office operations nor even known that such parallel services exist.
What MPS has achieved, I’m pleased to say, is to educate front office decision makers in recognising print as an integral business process rather than a critical, yet unmeasured business function, although there’s still some way to go in educating them in the value and importance of print services to their overall business!
Like with all good solutions, MPS providers are constantly looking at ways to take cost out of the system and, in many respects, MPS has become a commodity driven purely on price. I read an article recently on front office MPS and the value of print and it reflected on how selling on price had always been a challenge. It suggested that for repeat business to be generated, providers should establish or add value and posed that one way they could achieve it was by extending their services.
Not rocket science, I’m sure you’ll agree but what did strike a real chord with me was when the article pointed out that as print services suppliers, the value of printing itself should not be understated.
And I think that’s key for not just MPS providers but also for customers. We don’t call it mission critical printing for nothing and anyone involved in the logistics business should understand the real value of their printing, be it barcode labels, invoices, delivery notes or picking lists. Warehouses can’t afford downtime and although not all of it is attributable to barcode printers and scanners, they’re certainly one area where you can mitigate risk through reliable maintenance, repair and replacement services.
Warehouse printers are the unsung heroes of the supply chain yet they’re often treated like the bridesmaid to the big-budget IT bride, but you certainly notice their absence when they’re not working. Without them, you can’t get goods out the door, and potentially, you risk both your business reputation and the chance of chargebacks.
MPS has had a massive impact in front offices as organisations shift from capital expenditure to the more predictable operational expenses. It has to be the next logical step for logistics operators, the chance to save costs but, equally importantly, keep those printers running. At Datatrade, we support both new and legacy printers from suppliers like Zebra and Printronix and the table I’ve posted shows indicative savings that can be achieved through MPS although pricing does vary.


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