Country Business Manager
Commercial & Industrial Large Format Series IPG, HP India Sales
Tell us about various business groups under IPG?
The Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) has three main verticals:
Within the graphics art business falls:
Define the channel community for sign and display business? What is DPN?
The engagement is at two levels. At the top, we have value partners which are one in every region or take care of multiple regions. They deal in machines ranging from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.2-3 crore. The second channel is those customers who have bought our machines to sell our print pages and we call them as printer buyers or print buyers. Launched a year back, DPN (Digital Print Network) is a network of all our customers who have bought our printers and sold prints to end-customers.
We said that if you have bought our printers and are using the original ink and are under a service contract, you become a part of our DPN automatically. In true sense, we started branding them and making them aware on how they should position themselves, probably three months back. For us, the business does not stop at selling the hardware. It basically continues to the next level, who sell the prints because it is the hardware and ink business both. If they sell more prints, they will buy more equipment which will make my hardware channel happier.
What are the current market trends? We are again seeing slowdown globally. Does that mean slowdown to hit India soon?
Though the industry was little downside in 2008-09, still those were the best years, as a big spend was seen in the outdoor media and our customers did very well in terms of selling pages to our customers or selling square feet. We have been experiencing a slowdown since 2010 end and that continued in 2011 with the print volumes at all our channel and customers (DPN) dropping significantly.
The market trends in the last one year, i.e. 2011, have not been very upbeat because the major customers who buy our prints have been from the telecom sector and telecom sector has been hit very badly in 2011 and probably this would continue to do so in 2012 also. We had predicted this. Thus, we started working with our channel partners to see that how can we change our customer segmentation and came up with the new applications and new market segment. So through this DPN, we are working with the members or so-called channel partners to make sure that we are able to reach all new customers.
Though the people are predicting about consolidation, we will have to see how it goes.
What special are you doing for your value partners?
Their role is basically to search more customers or select more DPN members. So, we constantly educate them on the product lines and educate them about various applications on the existing product line. We have just finished the event called e-book called the master class. Basically, that talked about the forthcoming products and soon-to-be-launched applications. Being the evangelist, we train everybody to speak the same language. The better the support and quality of prints, the more DPN come on board, the more the DPN means more business for our value partners. So, we are basically trying to bond all the elements and link one to other.
Are you adding new business verticals?
Initiatives like "Wall art" and "Vehicle graphics" have helped partners to touch newer segments. Newer segments like consumer itself where key graphics are made for consumers so they can have their vehicles change their colours whenever they want instead of going for painting. So, these are few new initiatives that we have done and we basically train our DPN members, we made them aware that this is our new application. Some of them have adapted it and some of them probably will adapt in 2012. The new applications help you touch newer market. So, this is the process and it has to go from awareness to training, to basically making the end-customer also aware. So, that is how it has come up.
It is not adding vertical, but is enhancing options for the consumers. If we say that the telecom is a little bit down, then we have the banking and media as big segments. The next important thing is to ensure that our channel is able to cater to our newly evolved market. So, it is relatively a new market for them because still they have been catering to the commercial market where you have a corporate, you have one procurement guide. Here, it is the individual consumer which they are talking about.
When you conduct road shows, do you take value partners along?
Yes, it is always hand-in-hand with the value partners. We can say it is channelized through them.
How do you make DPN feel special?
Currently, we have about 215 DPN members across the country. We actually segregate them as DPN for outdoor, DPN for indoor. So, any print buyer can go to the website and see the toll-free number, email ID, etc. We give brochures to all our print buyers which means business for our DPN members.
We ensure that whatever the business is being generated in the market, our channel partner gets maximum share out of it. So, we are basically gearing them up to be different from other channel partners, who are not part of the digital print network. So, our first initiative is to differentiate a DPN member from a non-DPN member, which is taken care of by training. We train them on how to approach the customer differently. They should be seen by the end-customer as DPN, who would be able to deliver quality, consistent and durable printing with the fastest turnaround time.
At the time of rechristening them as DPN, we conducted the first level of training or certification programme. To increase the walk-in, we have given them a certain kind of look to the staff and ambience to the offices. Towards the same, we did a 6-city road show and talked about the initiatives like wallpaper and vehicle graphics. Last but not the least, we are planning to have a two-day summit in February to talk in depth about the newer application.
Dot Digital (Value Partner)
Since the establishment of Dot Digital three years ago, they have been associated with HP in all possible ways.
"I have got the best possible support from HP and its next level of channel partners in making my venture a success. I am a value partner who has bought their printers and is making a profitable business with that. I print on HP's machines the demands by various customers. Billboards, Signage, Retail, Vehicle wraps, Building wraps and Wallpapers are the most promising business verticals in India as of now," says Suresh Shetty, Proprietor, Dot Digital (Value Partner)
Being a value partner, Dot Digital sells the Scitex range of prints, solvent and UV range as well as the commercial series which includes their entry-level flat beds and also their Inkjet and eco solvent range, thereby giving all printing solutions under one roof
Arun & Rajive Pvt. Ltd. (DPN Partner)
They have bought HP printers and are running a decent profitable business with these.
"For the last three and a half years, I have been printing on HP's machines, which are in demand by various customers. HP really helps in creating new avenues like Wall and Floor Decals, Ceiling graphics and upcoming trend in ceiling decor, Wallpapers, Photo publishing, Print on Demand and Vehicle Wraps," says Siddharth Malhotra, Proprietor, Arun & Rajive Pvt. Ltd. (DPN Partner)
They are using HP Indigo 5500 Press for photo publishing, book printing and printing of marketing collaterals. They are a new entrant in the Scitex Base Latex Technology with the first in India to have HP Scitex LX850 Printer (for large format prints) installed.
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