Print & production potential

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Print & production potential
Print & production potential
Staples' strategy also includes opening Copy & Print Shops, a new retail format, in urban loca­tions. The first opened in January in Manhattan, and Staples plans to open a total of eight Copy & Print Shops near business hubs throughout Manhattan this year.

Office Depot staffs all of its centers with Xerox-certified specialists who have received special training, which translates to “greater recognition and greater recall” for Office Depot's services, Pianin says.

Diversification helps weather recession

Tom Wetjen, VP of worldwide graphic com­munications at Xerox Corp., points out that printing work has attractive margins. “It makes a lot of sense for an office supply superstore to move from just the walk-up business of selling print,” he says.

As with other retailers, office supply super­stores have been hit hard by the current economic downturn. In the fourth quarter of 2007, overall sales in this segment fell 4% for a total of $1.1 billion. Conversely, digital print is growing.

By opening printing centers across the country, Office Depot hopes to do a better job of meet­ing the needs of b-to-b customers, according to Pianin. Customers can place an order in one loca­tion and have it printed in another that might be closer to a business event they are traveling to.

“The amount of lead time customers have [on printing orders] is shrinking,” he says. “Office Depot looks at key geographic areas to deter­mine, strategically, where it can place centers so as to provide as fast a turnaround as possible.”

Print centers are integrated into the company's distribution network, allowing Office Depot to leverage its supply chain and speed up delivery.

High staff turnover and, therefore, how knowl­edgeable the staff is about printing is one of the challenges that office supply superstores face in the printing category compared to independent print shops, says Wetjen. “A printer's capabilities is driven by how skilled of an operator you have,” he explains, noting that at small, independent shops, the owner is often on site.

With more businesses recognizing the benefits of digital print, there's no reason office supply superstores won't continue to build their market share of print sales, Wetjen says. Office Depot is pursuing a significant investment strategy with its print efforts, recently putting in four-color and black-and-white large-format printing presses at its printing centers and hoping to build sales from engineers and architects, as well as other businesses and consumers.

“As Office Depot continues to invest in this area, awareness of its offerings is increasing and the company is getting more of the contract cus­tomers' spend,” says Pianin.

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