Print & production potential

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Print & production potential
Print & production potential

Office supply superstores are fast becoming big players in the printing business. Chantal Todé reports on this trend. 

These days, Office Depot's business customers aren't just ordering paper and pens from the popular office supply superstore. With a growing network of closed-door printing facilities (which are separate, non-retail locations), Office Depot is more often signing up these same customers for print-related services for marketing and other business collateral, creating cross-channel activity where a customer will both order supplies and contract for print jobs.

While sales of office supplies still account for approximately 63% of Office Depot's sales volume, printing “is a growing portion of the business,” says Randy Pianin, SVP of Office Depot's design, print and ship division. In fact, he explains, the company has pinpointed this area as one of its priorities for future growth. It continues to evaluate investment in print distribu­tion centers and has assigned a dedicated sales force for the contract printing business.

“There's an opportunity to gain more share of wallet from our existing customers in the print area,” Pianin explains.

Two years ago, Office Depot operated two regional print distribution centers, which han­dled the overflow from its retail copy centers in addition to bigger contract orders. Over the past couple of years, however, the multichannel office supply merchant has opened eight addi­tional facilities equipped with a variety of digital presses.

This January, Office Depot opened a 5,000square foot print distribution center in Denver. Many of the orders coming into these centers are from Office Depot's online portal.

Print works for several superstores

Office Depot isn't alone in recognizing print as a potential revenue stream. Staples, Office Max, The UPS Store and FedEx Kinko's are all also pursuing contract print strategies to varying degrees, according to industry sources.

Staples, for example, opened its first closed-door digital copy facility in 2004. It now has seven facilities and is scheduled to open an eighth later this year in San Francisco.

The contract copy and print category “is one of the fastest growing segments within our division,” says Lisa Hamblet, VP of b-to-b services at Staples. As a result, “it is a very large initiative for the company and Staples will continue to make investments in it.”

The facilities, on average 15,000 square feet, are equipped with Xerox Nuvera machines for black-and-white copying, Hewlett-Packard wide-format machines and a wide array of finishing machines, Hamblet says. Large orders are out­sourced, but the chain may consider outfitting the centers with printing presses, she adds.

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