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DEALER SUPPORT FEBRUARY 2021

February 2021

Issue 307

ISSUE 307 RAJ ADVANI PAUL TRAVIS ALEX DUNN

What are the implications of ‘lockdown three’ on the industry?

inspiring success

THE IMPLICATIONS OF LOCDKOWN III Third time around, what is the impact on the industry? RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Keeley Travis’ Paul Travis on facing a difficult period head on STAYING HOME The WFH products in focus this year


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FROM THE EDITOR

DEALER SUPPORT FEBRUARY 2021

A growing light at the end of the tunnel February 2021

Issue 307

ISSUE 307 RAJ ADVANI PAUL TRAVIS ALEX DUNN

Did you know that February 2021 is a perfectly rectangular month on the calendar? (Look it up – it only occurs about once a decade.) This is also the month when Groundhog Day is ironically celebrated (February 2) and, What are the thankfully, the shortest month of the year, which brought us a very cold implications snap with temperatures dropping to the lowest levels in 25 years! of ‘lockdown While all this may have made us actually quite glad to be stuck in the three’ on the warmth of our houses, lockdown three still continues to pull the mood of industry? the nation down. However, as swathes of the population are vaccinated, and the evenings and mornings get lighter as we edge closer to Spring, it does seem that the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine a little bit brighter! So, with looking forward in mind, we start this issue by speaking to Raj Advani who offers some forthright views on the future of the industry. Our BIG ASK assesses the impact that lockdown three has had - and continues to have - on the sector. In the second part of our focus on the Office Power report we discuss the re-evaluation of dealers’ fixed costs, and the ways business models are changing. This month’s DEALER SUCCESS story features Paul Travis who tells us why he never shies away from a challenge. We take a look at why - despite lockdowns and social distancing pushing us further towards digitalisation - there is still a demand for paper products, and Dani Barker emphasises the importance of having an effective online marketing presence, which includes increasing your use of social media to promote your business. Working from home looks set to continue for a whole yet, so we take a close look at the products which are likely to be in demand. (Spoiler Alert! The list includes headsets, cameras, small appliances and ergonomics.) For some light relief, our LIVE IT section invites you to take a well-deserved break and FATHER P. CLIP tells us the tale of going for a hike with a Sir! Our FINAL WORD this month is brought to you by Office Power’s Sabrina Evans who explains that exposing Amazon’s weaknesses could be the key to dealers’ success. As always, don’t forget to chat to us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts and opinions: @dealersupport. inspiring success

THE IMPLICATIONS OF LOCDKOWN III Third time around, what is the impact on the industry? RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Keeley Travis’ Paul Travis on facing a difficult period head on

STAYING HOME The WFH products in focus this year

Ellie Potter Acting editor

ACTING EDITOR Ellie Potter

CREATIVE TEAM Billy Odell

HEAD OF SALES Matthew Moore

DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch

Dealer Support is the leading monthly publication for dealers in the business supplies industry. It provides information on the industry (both in the UK and overseas), information for and about the UK’s independent dealers, as well as information and advice on running a small business. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright of all the material published remains with Intelligent Media Solutions Limited. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, copied, stored in an electronic retrieval or transmitted, save with written permission or in accordance with provision of the copyright designs and patent act of 1988. Printed in the UK by Buxton Press www.buxtonpress.co.uk

All email addresses are formatted firstname.lastname@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Annual subscriptions are available at a cost of £68.00 for UK and overseas by surface mail, £90.00 for airmail. Subscription enquiries should be sent to the address opposite

Intelligent Media Solutions We Work Building, 115 Mare Street, London, E8 4RU Tel: 0203 794 8555 Fax: 0203 794 8554 Email: info@intelligentmedia.co.uk Web: www.dealersupport.co.uk


FEBRUARY 2021

Contents INDUSTRY 06 NEWS AND VIEWS

The latest news and views from the industry

12 NAVIGATING A CHANGING LANDSCAPE Raj Advani on the future of the industry

16 BIG ASK

The impact of ‘lockdown three’ on the sector

20 POST-PANDEMIC: WHAT CHANGES WILL DEALERS MAKE?

20

Office Power assess changes to fixed costs and business models

DEALER SUCCESS 26 RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

How Paul Travis’ work ethic has paid off

LEADERSHIP 30 PAPER CHASE

The changing demand for paper products

26

34 STAYING RELEVANT ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN 2021 Why being online is now non-negotiable

SALES SUCCESS 37 STAYING HOME

As WFH continues demand for certain products grows too

44 LIVE IT

Take a break and enjoy some lighthearted fun

46 FATHER P. CLIP

The good Father discusses ducks and meets a Sir

47 FINAL WORD

Thriving in the age of Amazon

34 “It is not just about being able to get sales back… the impact on the wellbeing of the working population will be the big story that unwinds over the coming months”

18


INDUSTRY

T H E M O N T H T H AT W A S

THE MONTH THAT WAS Superstat and Exertis Supplies announce new agreement

Exertis named UK distributor of Triangle Hi-Fi Exertis has boosted its premium audio offering by becoming distributor to French audio specialists, Triangle Hi-Fi, focusing on the manufacturer’s highly-regarded Borea range of speakers. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Triangle’s philosophy is built around dynamic and vivid sound performance. Its Borea loudspeaker range delivers a class-leading vocal and midrange performance combined

In a joint statement, Superstat and Exertis Supplies have announced an

with punchy and controlled bass. The

exclusive new agreement that gives Superstat dealers a significant advantage

cabinets and driver membranes are inspired

to their Exertis deal.

by previous generations of successful

The agreement is the result of talks between Superstat and Exertis

Triangle products, and the Borea range is

Supplies, which set out to develop a way of providing Superstat dealers a

already the subject of not one, but two, 5-star

transparent, honest and, above all, stable pricing structure that combines a

reviews from market-leading audio reviews

competitive advantage with long-term sustainability.

website, Whathifi.com.

“Dealers tell us they are looking for consistency in their wholesale deal,”

Richard Booth, commercial brand

Alex Dunn, MD of Superstat, said. “They are looking for honesty and integrity

manager, premium audio, Exertis, said:

from their suppliers, and a fair and sustainable deal that won’t change

“We’re thrilled to be appointed distributor

dramatically from one month to the next. This isn’t the result of any hard

for Triangle, and are looking forward to

negotiation, more the genuine desire of both companies to champion the

establishing the brand as a major player

success of dealers.

in the hi-fi speaker market. We believe

“This is the first stage of a series of enhancements to Superstat dealers’

Triangle’s dynamic, precise sound and

trading agreement with Exertis Supplies, which will give group members a

elegant design will make this range extremely

strong and sustainable competitive edge in the market. We are delighted to

appealing to the UK audio market.”

have so much genuine common ground with Exertis Supplies, and to be able to offer tangible benefits to our dealers.” MD of Exertis Supplies, Andrew Beaumont, commented: “In a relatively

Hugo Decelle, CEO, Triangle, added: “We are excited to begin this partnership with Exertis. Its premium audio team has a

short period of time we have developed strong relationships between our

proven track record building market share

two management teams, and it is from this open minded and collaborative

for high-quality audio brands. We look

relationship that this agreement has been forged. We are incredibly excited to

forward to building this partnership together,

be working with Alex and his team, not only to support their dealers with the

and bringing the excellent sound quality

office products of today, but also with an extensive array of the office products

and design of Triangle loudspeakers to UK

of tomorrow.”

consumers.”

[06] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


T H E M O N T H T H AT W A S

Boston firm wins Tesco non-food sustainability award

INDUSTRY

Premier Paper expands in north west Premier has started 2021 with the opening of a new regional distribution centre in the north west. Following on from the opening of two other regional centres in Dartford and Bristol, in 2019 and 2020 respectively, this new 30,000 square foot facility more than doubles Premier’s warehouse capacity in the region and is located at Haydock, near St Helens, less than a mile from Junction 23 of the M6. The proximity of the new branch to the motorway network will enable Premier to offer a fast and efficient service to customers in Liverpool, Manchester,

A Boston business is celebrating after being declared one of Tesco’s most

and all areas across the north west. It will

sustainable suppliers. Dynamic Cassette International (DCI) picked-up the

also play a key role in Premier’s national

Sustainability Award for Best Non-Food Supplier at Tesco’s annual supplier

distribution network, supporting other

conference recently.

Premier branches throughout the north of

The event, which this year was held virtually, brings together thousands of Tesco suppliers for an update on the grocery market and the supermarket’s future priorities; the culmination of the event is the prestigious supplier awards. DCI, based in Boston, Lincolnshire, was recognised for working with

England and Scotland. This is a significant move which will see Premier further improve its service to the north west with comprehensive stocks

Tesco to cut the packaging on its own-brand remanufactured inkjet cartridges

of paper, display media and packaging

by 30%. The award also acknowledged the success of DCI’s innovative

products held locally for same day or next

programme for collecting used cartridges and refilling them so they can be

day delivery.

used again. Shoppers drop-off used cartridges at dedicated recycling points

“Our Liverpool and Manchester

and, in return, can choose to receive Clubcard points or make a charity

sales teams will continue to operate

donation. The programme operates in 400 stores around the country and, due

independently, based at the new regional

to its success, it is set to expand to more than 300 additional stores.

facility, which is just 20 minutes’ drive

Only 20% of all cartridges sold worldwide are recycled and

from both Liverpool and Manchester

remanufactured; the other 80% often end up being incinerated, or sent to

city centres,” Mike Banks, northern

landfill, increasing plastics’ pollution and creating more waste.

operations director, commented.

DCI has the capacity to produce more than one million remanufactured

“We believe that Premier already

cartridges and 100,000 laser toners per month, and has seen demand for inkjet

offers industry-leading service, but we are

cartridges significantly increase during the latest lockdown as more people are

always looking at how we can do things

working from home and children are being home-schooled.

better as our customer base develops,

Phil Sneath, of DCI, said: “Working with Tesco has allowed us to significantly

and service requirements change. With a

increase the number of cartridges being recycled, and make a significant

vehicle fleet made up of 10 trucks and an

contribution to helping Tesco achieve its ambitious sustainability targets.

articulated lorry, the location will enable

“It’s a great recognition of the hard work of everyone at DCI, and a real cause for celebration, especially when all of us could do with a boost during

us to improve our logistics service across the north west.”

the lockdown.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [07]


INDUSTRY

T H E M O N T H T H AT W A S

NEWS REPORT

The leadership lessons 2020 taught us LOOSENING CONTROL IS NOT LOSING CONTROL

IT’S OKAY TO FAIL

The past year has taught me that I can be flexible. By nature, I

This year has taught me that it’s okay to fail. With COVID-19,

am a big planner, and my style is to have everything organised

I had to become comfortable with failure because it was so

well in advance. This year, all of my best-laid plans have had

inevitable. As a result, we have been a lot more productive.

to change – often at the last minute. Yet, our business has still

Instead of worrying about making something perfect, we got

managed to grow.

things out quicker, even if there was a chance they’d fail.

Vicky Matthews, co-founder, Pink Spaghetti

Marja Verbon, founder, Jump

LEADERS NEED TO SWITCH OFF TOO

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

This year has shown me that I work too hard and long most

I have learned is that authenticity is a strength – not just

of the time. But, with the lockdowns, the extra quiet time and

something nice to say to motivate others. My authenticity

the relaxation of many deadlines has meant that I have had

has been the backbone of my resilience and has helped

the time and energy to think properly, and get more on top of

me to know when to keep going and when to rest. Being

research and strategy than before.

able to speak as honestly as possible with clients has really

Jasmine Birtles, founder and director, MoneyMagpie

empowered me. Ronke Lawal, founder, Ariatu PR

CHANGE CAN BE A GOOD THING This year has taught me how quickly we can adapt to change

DON’T STICK TO THE STATUS QUO

and how, regardless of what is thrown at us, we can keep

I’ve been holding myself back more than I ever realised, trying

going and thrive. My belief is that the biggest constraints

to ‘fit in’ with the way things are usually done. The chaos and

breed the best creativity. The coronavirus pandemic confined

unpredictability of the most worrying year in a generation has

us to our boxes but helped us think ‘outside the box’.

brought with it the freeing ability to do things differently.

Dan Gable, founder and CEO, ShoutOut

Victoria Searl, founder, DataHawks

REMOTE WORKING IS STILL WORKING This year has changed my views on home working and, once the pandemic is over, we will adopt part-time home working permanently. I believe this is achievable two-to-three days a week in the office, in conjunction with working from home. This means future recruits could be based further afield, widening the available talent pool. Russell Horton, CEO, FluidOne

[08] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


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INDUSTRY

VENDOR PROFILE

30 YEARS OLD AND STILL LEARNING Office seating and home office furniture supplier Teknik found itself deluged with frantic customers at the start of the pandemic and, thanks to its emphasis on customer service and good communication, the company ensured that everyone received their orders in good time.

W

hen the first national lockdown

enormously in reducing the volume of emails and

was announced on March 23, 2020,

‘phone calls.

it changed how and where many

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a

people worked at a stroke. It also

while. I was forced by circumstances to stop pondering it

meant a lot of businesses needed

and actually do it so, bizarrely, I am quite grateful for the

home office equipment and supplies as soon as possible – resulting in a deluge of calls from reseller and end-user customers to Teknik for products. At the same time as dealing with new ways of

‘nudge’ as it has been very well-received!” Teknik already had a large range of home office desks and matching ancillary furniture available, having started to focus on the sector about five years ago in

working themselves, Teknik had to focus carefully

order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

on keeping information flowing to customers. “We

This process was accelerated over lockdown. “Rather

thought we were already good at this but learned, very

than suddenly adding a new range as a response to the

quickly, that our systems needed refining – this was

COVID demand, it was a continuation of our planned

a fast and steep learning curve!” says Mark Galliano,

range development,” says Mark.

director of Teknik. “Prior to lockdown, we had already taken steps to

NEED FOR SPEED

move paperless so, thankfully, we had already done

Teknik holds stock and delivers it to end-user customers

some of the work. Developing our customer portal

for dealers. Mark explains that this meant they had the

created a backdrop for other adjustments we needed

systems and logistics in place to address the need to

to make - which has helped both us and our customers

get products quickly to end-users.. “Larger customers

[10] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


VENDOR PROFILE

INDUSTRY

can take advantage of bulk purchasing, which cuts out

IMPORTANCE OF CHAIRS

the double handling of goods going via our warehouses;

The rise in working from home has increased the

customers that do not want to be involved in stocking

importance of workers having the right chair to maintain

themselves can still take advantage of our UK stocks,

their physical wellbeing. Teknik has been involved in

and the broader elements of our ranges, without taking

office seating for more than 30 years, so can provide

the risk and investment involved,” he says.

in-depth advice for something that can be easily

Mark adds that service standards were not

overlooked. “The right chair is incredibly important;

compromised for speed. “Price and product are

each employer has a duty of care for their workers, and

important to get right but, within the market we operate

a key part of this is the chair they sit on,” says Mark.

in, where we offer a drop ship service for our dealers

“Although this may seem to some like a complex issue,

and retailers, they need to be able to trust that we will

it is not; a few rudimentary adjustments on a chair can

represent them well when we interact with their end-

make it perfectly acceptable for most users.

users, so service is critical, and the ability to support the end-users is core to what we do. “Our customer service department is the largest

“For home workers, one could argue that the adjustability of the chair is even more important because, counterintuitively, people who are working

of our administrative teams; we regularly receive

from home tend to be seated for longer periods each

feedback that affirms that we do a good job. We

day. However, in my opinion, one of the most useful

don’t hide behind our warranty; in ongoing trading

things people can do to protect their posture is to

relationships, I have always felt that goodwill was

regularly get up and move about!”

more important than guarantee.” As part of this service offer, Teknik offers a customer

FUTURE

hotline. “We feel that it’s important that we do our best

Looking forward, Mark hopes that if the pandemic

to support retailers and their customers; quite often,

ends there will be a return to something approaching

the teams within a retailer are not specialists, and don’t

normal. “We will retain an element of flexible home

have the technical knowledge to answer product-

working within our teams, but I also yearn for our Teknik

related questions. This means that end-users can be

family to be able to interact together in the office

‘lost’ in the system, and become frustrated.”

again. I miss the informal communication that comes

Going forward, customers will also be able to track their orders through the customer portal; this is currently being beta tested before full roll-out.

from that, and I miss them all! “Additionally, I would like the supply chains to stop being a battle, and costs to normalise - I am optimistic they will. Notwithstanding either of these things, we will

POST-COVID CHANGES

continue to grow our ranges at pace. We have a huge

Mark notes that, since COVID-19, there is a much

number of products lined up and ready to go.

greater understanding of the working from home (WFH)

“I think that 2021 is going to be an exciting year.”

market now among dealers. “Pre-COVID, we needed to persuade many office product dealers that this was a largely untapped sector, and it would be worth their while to explore it, so they to needed to take a leap of faith to try it out,” he says. “That seems to have changed now. Yes, it will level out, and some of the heat will fade, but I believe the WFH market will form part of the

TEKNIKOFFICE.CO.UK

normal offering for our sector in the long-term.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [11]


INDUSTRY

S T R AT E G Y I N T E R V I E W

Navigating Navigating changing aa changing landscape landscape Raj Advani may have stepped down from his role as managing director of Exertis, but he is still very much involved in the business and the sector – and has some forthright views on its future

W

hen Raj Advani moved to Portugal,

CHANGING INDUSTRY

in 2019, he took the decision to step

Of course, COVID-19 has changed things for everyone

down as managing director of Exertis

in the sector over the past year. “One of the big shifts

Supplies, a position he’d held since

we have seen is more people working from home, and

2011 when the company bought out

a lot more of our deliveries are smaller because they’re

Advent Data, which he had founded back in 1990. “I thought the division needed an MD that was there more than my new lifestyle would allow so I became the commercial director and passed on the

going to a homeworker,” says Raj. “So, we are seeing a trend for smaller orders, and a lot more ink cartridges rather than toner cartridges on the EOS side.” Another big shift has been the type of products

MD reigns to Andrew Beaumont, who knows the

customers are purchasing. “We are also seeing a

business very well,” he says. “I have the best of both

greater demand for branded products - I think because

worlds; I have a more relaxed lifestyle, but I am still

the employee is making the decision about what to

very much involved in the business I love and am very

buy. They buy the nice, fancy Rexel stapler rather than

passionate about.”

the cheap, unbranded version because it will go on

It is a business that had to deal with an

their home office desk. In the office they are happy to

unprecedented year in 2020, but it has come through

buy the cheap alternative, but at home they want the

it strongly. “Speaking for Exertis, it is comforting for

best.”

our employees, customers and suppliers to know that

Alongside this, data is becoming increasingly

we are financially secure and have good stock holdings

important in the industry. “Over the past five years we

and distribution network,” he says.

have spent a lot of time, effort and money improving

[12] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


S T R AT E G Y I N T E R V I E W

INDUSTRY

guaranteeing 80% of their spend. That makes the wholesaler king,

I have always believed the customer should be king

not the customer, and I have always believed the customer should be king. “It breeds complacency. The wholesaler doesn’t have to work to get your business – they have

and developing our data and its accuracy,” says Raj. “It

already got it, so they can do

will continue to be a key focus for us.”

what they want with the price,

Focusing on data will help companies to stay ahead

You can listen to more of Raj’s views as a podcast at dealersupport.co.uk

they can limit the range, they can

in this changing industry. “I think consolidation will

change it. I would like to see this change; we are seeing

be a big part of the future, as we have seen over the

some of this since the demise of Spicers, but I would

past few years,” Raj says. “There might be someone to

like to see it accelerated.”

come along and challenge Amazon – there are people who want to try – but we see lots of opportunities to

BROADEN RANGE

evolve our range, and help others do the same.

Raj also thinks dealers should look to broaden their

“The dealer channel is evolving and changing all

range – and not fear moving into selling tech products.

the time. There is more risk now – especially with the

“I speak to many dealers who are a bit scared of selling

COVID situation – and we don’t know when that will

tech products, but it isn’t that difficult,” he says. “There

clear. Good, well-run and well-financed businesses

are some things, like servers, where I wouldn’t advocate

will find a way to survive, but some of the smaller ones

that any of my dealers try to get involved because they

might find it more difficult.”

are complicated but, to me, ‘office products’ aren’t just

Another change is that more dealers, especially

traditional stationery – they are traditional stationery

bigger ones, are holding more stock than in recent

plus other products you use in an office, such as

years. “They can’t get an overnight service at the

laptops, keyboards, mice, printers, headsets, projectors

moment, when they are used to getting a delivery at

and even virtual meeting rooms.

2-3am, so they have changed their model to hold stock.”

“We have 51,000 technology products in our warehouse. We can help dealers to sell the lower-

ADVICE TO DEALERS

tech technology products that don’t need a lot of

In these tough times, Raj’s advice to dealers is to

knowledge and help them move into new channel.”

spread their risk, and not commit too much of their

However, this advice comes with the caveat of

spend to one wholesaler. “To me, that is inherently

COVID-19 – and that nobody knows how long it will

risky,” he warns. “We have been saying for a long time

continue to impact the country. “The UK is on the front

there should be more competition in the distribution

foot with the vaccination programme, so I wouldn’t be

model. Coming from an EOS background, we have

surprised if we see a bit of an economic boost in the

been in a very low margin business with lots of

summer,” he says. Raj reckons that the government will

competitors - you have to fight every day for your

announce new stimulus packages to help businesses

share. Since we entered the office products arena we’ve

get back on their feet and there will be an increase in

seen that it’s a slightly different model where dealers

spending again – but not a great uptick.

seem to give five-year contracts to one wholesaler

“It will be a slow burner,” he says.

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [13]


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INDUSTRY

BIG ASK

What are the implications of ‘lockdown three’ on the industry? Although we are now more used to the idea of lockdown, this third lockdown seems to be taking a heavier toll on the British public. So, how does this dwindling morale impact bottom lines and employees?

ALEX DUNN, MD, SUPERSTAT

in and stay connected to the business world. People

January got off to a flying start

who have used things like online training courses have

and, overall, top line sales have

told us they were able to hit the ground running when

been holding up - albeit thanks

called upon, whereas others have taken a while to get

to COVID products. Hopefully,

back up to speed.

sales of traditional products will

Even those still working are under genuine

start to come back but working

stress, whether from an increased workload, reduced

from home is here to stay and

hours, lack of social interaction or balancing family

that will have a long-term impact on our industry. Dealers are a lot better prepared this time, but what

commitments. Communication has definitely suffered; in the hustle and bustle of running a business it’s easy

seems to have knocked a lot of people for six is schools

to forget just to keep in touch with people who are

being shut again, and this time the workload is a lot

working remotely, or not working at all, and feeling

more demanding; that’s really hard when both parents

isolated.

work. One thing scientists do know is that you can’t

Dealer principals who normally pay themselves

give your full attention to a Zoom and a five-year-old at

through dividends have fallen through a hole in the

the same time! Some working parents would rather be

government’s aid package but, for most dealers, the

furloughed for a few weeks but, for many businesses,

bottom line has been saved by the furlough scheme.

this just isn’t an option.

Whether you think the government acted too quickly,

‘Lockdown three’ has caused a definite slowdown.

or too slowly, I think they have to be commended for

We have also noticed that a lot of businesses have

getting something up-and-running so quickly. It has

stopped doing any digital marketing at a time when

kept a lot of dealers in business.

communication is more important than ever. A lot of

One thing dealers have always shown is that they

dealers are telling us that they have got salespeople on

can innovate and react quickly to a changing situation,

furlough who are looking for ways to keep their hand

and they have proved this yet again.

[16] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


BIG ASK

INDUSTRY

JULIE HAWLEY, MD, OFFICE

while caring for the vulnerable, home schooling, or

FRIENDLY

living with the effects of the pandemic. The seasonal

‘Lockdown three’ has a

effects of a bleak time of the year doesn’t help, nor

very different feel to it this

does the prospect of leading a normal life being just

time with both positive and

out of reach at the moment.

negative effects to consider.

The shape of the industry has been changed

Office Friendly made a

forever, and will continue to evolve as traditional

decision very early on in

supply chain relationships fragment and new

the pandemic to support the full supply chain

relationships form through the necessity to survive.

for the benefit of dealers. The learning curve

Products portfolios have been extended to include

was steep for everyone; government support

new categories, and the obsolete will accelerate as

schemes, protection of the workforce at work

the need or ‘me too’ concept loses out.

or repositioning at home, measuring the drop

We need to give reassurance that the horizon is

in business, sourcing other products like PPE,

coming into focus, and we have to find the resilience

understanding how and why to keep contact with

to work through the next couple of months. Seeing

customers and suppliers… not forgetting how to

spring time as a mood-changer, and using the winter

tackle the actual virus itself!

months for planning, will concentrate the mind on

We have all gone through this learning curve and are in a much better place for it.

the fact that better times are ahead. The hope is that government support packages

Frustrations are mounting, though, with this

will remain in place as business levels recover, and

lockdown. Progress has been made with the virus,

that these packages will assist in the repayment of

technology exists to track and trace it, regulations

loans or deferred payments. Many opportunities

have been formulated for workplaces – yet the

emerged over the last year, and those who are

government struggles to implement many of these

prepared to maximise the effect of these this year

tools to enable us to return to a more normal life

will recover sooner, and grow considerably.

while dealing with the pandemic.

Office Friendly continues to be strong and stable

Mental health issues are commonplace now

in this environment, with a keen focus on ensuring

whether you are a business owner in survival mode

our members are well-supported within the supply

or an employee trying to hold onto your livelihood

chain through these next few months.

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [17]


INDUSTRY

BIG ASK

TIM BEAUMONT, GROUP MD,

packaging supplies and adapting services to cater

NEMO AND OFFICE CLUB

for the huge increase in homeworkers. However, the

The first lockdown took us into

one thing business dislikes is uncertainty; lockdown

the unknown; it was a shock,

three has brought uncertainty.

and businesses instinctively

We still hold regular group online meetings

switched to emergency mode,

with members to share experiences and support;

setting about re-structuring

the retail sector, in particular, is finding it incredibly

the way they operate. The

difficult to plan their next move. After being shut

expectation was that it would only be for a relatively

down for so much of 2020, they are having to cope

short period, but in that time they developed new,

with almost zero income, unsold seasonal stock and

smarter ways of working; meetings switched to

the uncertainty of what our high streets will look like

online; costs were stripped out (and not missed)

when we do re-open.

and dealers proactively demonstrated the personal support they offered to customers. As a group we dedicated time and resource

The true impact of the third lockdown is not going to be felt immediately. It is not just about being able to get sales back to where they were pre-

to supporting dealers with sourcing new product

COVID, the impact on the wellbeing of the working

ranges, deciphering government guidelines and

population will be the big story that unwinds over

providing new marketing tools for a new way of

the coming months. There will be people who have

working so that, by ‘lockdown two’, businesses were

not worked for 12 months facing the anxiety of

much more prepared and seemed to take it very

going back to work; there will be those that have

much in their stride, managing a balance of reduced

had to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic, who

costs and seeking out sale opportunities.

are mentally exhausted from the strain and, sadly,

Maybe it was the thought of Christmas, and a hope that the end of 2020 would instigate the beginning of a rapid recovery, but the second

there will be those who find themselves without work when the furlough scheme comes to an end. Looking further ahead there is every reason

lockdown was filled with optimism whereas

to remain optimistic about a fast and successful

‘lockdown three’, in the heart of winter, has come as

bounce back; the resilience shown by dealers, and

a real hammer blow to hopes of a quick exit.

their ability to adapt, has been quite spectacular –

Most businesses can adapt to change, and our

and although it might not seem it right now, that

industry has shown that extremely well with the

experience, and enforced scrutiny of their own

seamless change of supply to PPE, infection control,

businesses, will stand them in good stead for a

social-distancing signage, increased demand for

return to more prosperous times.

[18] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


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INDUSTRY

REDUCING FIXED COSTS

Will dealers reduce their fixed costs, and change their business models, post-pandemic? In order to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, Office Power conducted a research programme which included webinars, an in-depth economic analysis and an industry survey. Two aspects of the research focused on whether dealers will reduce fixed costs, and change their business models, as a result of the pandemic

O

ffice Power wanted to progress its

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT

quantitative research and utilise

REDUCTIONS IN YOUR FIXED COSTS POST-

dealer opinions; it conducted an

FURLOUGHING?

in-depth survey of more than 100

As the government furlough period is currently

dealers with an average turnover of

expected to finish at the end of April, it was very

about £1m from across the UK. A variety of questions were posed to help uncover

interesting to note that 35% of dealer respondents stated that they would not be likely to consider

motivations, insights and future thinking; these

reducing their fixed costs upon the scheme ending.

included multiple choice, rating scale, Likert scale and

This will clearly depend on individual circumstances

open-ended questions. They were specifically designed

and, as new government support schemes are regularly

to help understand how COVID-19 has impacted dealer

being announced, this may enable some businesses

businesses so far, and what dealers are planning to do

not to make permanent cuts in costs.

to survive.

Not focusing on fixed costs while facing continued

Respondents were asked six key questions to assess

reduction in revenue is exceptionally risky. Business

their views on how the office supplies industry would be

survival will be difficult if costs are not optimised and

impacted by the pandemic and what was necessary to

revenues continue to run at 30% down, or lower. Given

maintain business performance. Two of the questions

the ongoing uncertainty - with different restrictions and

asked to dealers looked at reducing fixed costs and

rules developing all the time - it is likely that revenue

changing business models. Here’s how dealers answered.

will not recover quickly.

[20] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


measures developing all the time, it is likely that revenue will not recover quickly.

REVENUE COGS

GES SS MODEL GROSS PROFIT

GROSS MARGIN %

100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

£1,000,000

£900,000

£800,000

£700,000

£600,000

£500,000

£670,000

£603,000

£536,000

£469,000

£402,000

£355,000

£330,000

£297,000

£264,000

£231,000

£198,000

£165,000

33%

33%

33%

33%

33%

33%

£280,000

£280,000

£280,000

W LIKELY ARE YOU SIGNIFICANT CHANGES SS MODEL IN ORDER TO ADE?

at ey then hanging

is increasingly looking uncertain, planning now for the new post eraGis Fvital toDensure survival. R Efurlough DUCIN IXE COS TS INDUSTRY

FIXED OVERHEAD

£280,000

£280,000

£280,000

NET PROFIT

£50,000

£17,000

-£16,000

FIXED OVERHEAD REDUCTION B/E

QUESTION 6: HOW LIKELY A THE FOLLOWING CHANGES -£49,000 -£115,000 “It’s not enough to-£82,000 just wait and see”

18%then went on to 29% 41% may The survey explore how dealers think about changing their model, posing the question on how likely they were to change 10 key elements of Figure 10: An example P&L demonstrating how revenue decline leads to insolvency their model.

Figure 11: : The likelihood that dealers will change their business model to survive

6%

There which order o a stron

How likely are you to make the following changes?

Most businesses will move into a loss-making position Reduce fixed costs if their revenue only declines by 15% and they don’t optimise their cost base Review my product mix

very or model to successfully hat 19% of s, as can be hat:

Negotiate my Cost of Goods (COGs)

18 Review the suppliers I work with

working will

ompetitors future

all y recover ning all of

Change my delivery methods

king

s sity

Review my e-commerce platform

Make some staff redundant

Extremely unlikely

Very unlikely

Downsize my office and/or warehouse

Review my back-end system

Unlikely 0

1

2

3

4

5

Very likely Extremely unlikely

Extremely likely

Extremely likely

Figure 12: The relative likelihood of changes respondents felt they’d make

20

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [21]

www.officepower.net

Re

Re

Ne

Re

In mos overhe chang smalle are als earlier dealer all resp in the impac it to th traditio

Pass some costs onto my customers

s in the e impact on ms

In sum were e chang to cha have a office

So, the but no seen t tenden


INDUSTRY

REDUCING FIXED COSTS

Figure 10 shows an example dealer with £1m revenue

very, or extremely, likely to change their business model

annually. If this example dealer’s revenue comes back

to enable their business to continue to trade successfully

to 100%, with an average GM of around 33%, and

in the future. An interesting point here is that 19% of

average fixed overhead of 28%, there is a net profit

dealers were unlikely to make any changes, as can be

of about £50k. At 90% of revenue the dealer remains

seen in Figure 11. This is surprising given that:

profitable; however, if the revenue drops to 80% and

• Nearly 90% of dealers believe home working will

the business hasn’t made any changes to their fixed overheads, it will go into an annual loss of £16k. If, as the survey respondents have indicated, their revenue will drop to at least 70% or lower, we are looking at some difficult numbers. Most dealers who are planning further cost reductions are looking at reducing their premises and

become far more prevalent in future • All dealers felt that the recent changes in the wholesaler market will have a negative impact on their key services and commercial terms • More than 80% of dealers felt that online competitors will pose a much greater threat in the future • At the time of the survey, some two-thirds of all

staff costs. Significant adjustments in either of these

respondents felt their revenue will only recover to

areas will require a change to the traditional dealer

70% (or less) post-furlough – meaning all of these

model in order to have a viable business on an ongoing

businesses will be loss-making.

basis. An uncomfortable reality is that, given that the

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING

recovery is increasingly looking uncertain, planning now

CHANGES?

for the new post-furlough era is vital to ensure survival.

The survey then went on to explore how dealers may think about changing their model, posing the question

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MAKE OTHER

on how likely they were to change 10 key elements of

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO YOUR BUSINESS

their model.

MODEL IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO TRADE?

In summary, there are no areas where respondents

Continuing this focus on how dealers look at their

were either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to make changes

businesses, the survey asked about how far dealers

– which can be interpreted as a resistance to change,

would go in changing aspects of their business models.

despite the worries the majority of dealers have about

More than 80% of dealers responded that they are

[22] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

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INDUSTRY

REDUCING FIXED COSTS

supplies industry. There were four main areas of their business models which dealers felt they might change

servicing a fragmented customer base will rise. • Reviewing their e-commerce platform – despite

(in descending order of priority) – although respondents

eight-out-of-10 respondents expressing concern at

didn’t have a strong view on any of these areas:

the increased threat of online competition.

• reducing fixed costs (not staff-related);

• Reduce staff costs – when these costs make up

• reviewing the product range;

the majority of their fixed overhead cost and will,

• negotiating a reduction in cost of goods;

therefore, have the quickest and biggest impact on

• reviewing their suppliers.

returning to profitability. • Reviewing their back-end system – even though

In most dealer businesses 70% or more of overhead

many systems have inherent inefficiencies, resulting

costs relate to people and, therefore, changes to

in unnecessary administrative costs.

other, non-staff related, costs will have a smaller impact on reducing losses. The other three areas

Hopefully, it is not the case, but these results do indeed

are also not surprising given the reasons discussed

seem to indicate that a significant number of dealers,

earlier in this report, and the historic strength of the

although likely to make changes, aren’t yet thinking

dealer community at being able to adapt. However, all

about the areas which are most necessary to change

respondents acknowledge that the recent changes in

given the ongoing uncertainty of the market.

the wholesaler landscape will have a negative impact

It is critical that dealers start to make practical

on the dealer community; how realistic is it to think

plans to understand their potential ongoing business

that it will be possible to apply the dealer’s traditional

performance and make the changes which will be

strength to recover from the current crisis? So, there

required to secure business continuity. Dealers have

is an awareness that change is necessary, but this is

survived many, many of challenges through the years; is

not as prevalent as expected and could be seen to

this just another one, or is it more significant than those

indicate a resistance to change and/or a tendency to

that have come before?

want to ‘wait and see’. This is backed up by the surprising results around

To download the full report ‘The changing dealer:

the areas which dealers are unlikely to change.

resilience in the face of adversity’ please visit

• Delivery methods – even though the cost of

WWW.OFFICEPOWER.NET/RESILIENCE

[24] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


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DEALER SUCCESS

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Paul Travis never shies away from a challenge – be it ironman triathlons or steering a business through a global pandemic – and his work ethic has paid off in the past year

W

hen the weather is

have built up distance since, doing the

freezing cold, and

sprints, Olympics and middle-distance

it is early morning,

length triathlons; I thought I would now

it takes a certain

go up to the full distance.”

dedication to haul

Paul had intended to undertake

yourself out of a warm, comfortable

the ironman challenge for charity last

bed, put on some trainers, and go

summer but, of course, it was cancelled

out for a run - but Paul Travis, sales

due to the pandemic. While he is still

director at Keeley Travis, has this in

doing all the training required, it is

spades as he trains for an ironman

not certain that it will happen this year

triathlon.

either, but he is hopeful.

An ironman triathlon, for the

The cause is a worthy one. Paul is

uninitiated, involves a 2.4-mile swim,

raising money for Marcus Allen and his

followed by a 112-mile bike ride,

family; Marcus is a boy with AADC,

finished off with a full 26.2-mile

a rare genetic condition that affects

marathon.

the nervous system, which means he

“I used to do quite a bit of running

requires a lot of support. Paul is raising

but I think it was a midlife crisis – I

money to help ensure Marcus can

turned 40 and decided to do triathlons,”

access pioneering treatment; he has

he laughs. “After I did my first one, I was

already raised more than £1,000 and is

hooked – it was a really good feeling. I

hoping to finish with more than £2,000.

[26] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

DEALER SUCCESS

DEDICATION It is this same dedication that Paul puts into his business life too. “I am ridiculously competitive, and have this burning desire to keep pushing myself,” he says. “You have to have some element of that in business.” As sales director he has helped to lead Keeley Travis’ fightback against the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months - and has seen the company secure some of the biggest contracts in its history. “In terms of volume we have probably doubled what we did last year in managed print sales,” he says. “You might call it luck, but I believe you create your own luck. We had a large client that made acquisitions, so they had more sites. Other businesses have renewed contracts with us, and we have dealt with some internet companies and bakeries that are booming and have acquired more printers. There have been a few industries that have really grown in this pandemic, and have needed the printer infrastructure to suit.” Keeley Travis’ preferred partner for managed print services is KonicaMinolta, although other brands’ machines are sold through the usual channels. “They were probably one of the only manufacturers that would take on a smaller dealer at the time,” says Paul. “They worked with us – they provided other local companies to help us with the service and maintenance, and supported us and enabled us to grow that side. They always give us good prices and support.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [27]


DEALER SUCCESS

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

Keeley Travis will continue to operate regardless, because of the other services we offer

they have an empty office, they will

BRINGING CHANGE FORWARD

upgrade their furniture.

Another effect of the pandemic is

“We had already put plans in place

that it has forced Keeley Travis to

to become non-wholesaler reliant, and

reassess how it sells to clients. “We

we have worked hard over the last five-

have probably focused too much on

to-10 years to ensure that, if we do get

selling through the traditional models

a doomsday scenario with the likes of

– face-to-face selling and the like; one

Spicers, Keeley Travis will continue to

of the weaknesses of the business has

operate regardless, because of the other

been its online presence, and that is

VINDICATED STRATEGY

services we offer. It has been a challenge

something we are working hard to

The contract wins also vindicate

this past year, but I am proud of what

address,” Paul says.

Keeley Travis’ strategy to diversify its

we have done. The staff have adapted

product and service range over the

well to flexible and homeworking where

supplies, which is an evolution store,

past few years. “We took the hit on

they have needed to.”

and we are going to start offering that

the traditional OP sales, but we have

This is a turnaround from the start

“We have just launched beebusiness

out to our clients as a ‘one-price-fits-all’

had some really good business on the

of the pandemic, when Keeley Travis

– no bespoke pricing, just discounting

contractual side, and there have been

furloughed many of its staff and tried

across the board.”

opportunities on the remote working

to reduce costs wherever they could. “It

side too, such as telecoms packages. I

became clear after about three weeks

Travis is a key part of Paul’s plans to

wouldn’t have liked to have just had

that if we operate with the mindset

continue Keeley Travis’ growth in the

an office products business in this

that we are going to survive then, at

coming years, along with plans to focus

pandemic.

best, you will survive. So we decided

on the contract services side of the

“It has been a nice mix of different

to continue to strive for growth and

business – and he plans to recruit more

areas where we have been able to assist

be more active. We brought most of

people to do this.

businesses. We have been surprised

our salespeople off furlough and have

by some of the furniture projects

operated with a full sales team for most

to date, and Paul’s ‘burning desire to

that have happened. I think some

of the year. You have got to keep on

keep pushing himself ’, who would bet

companies have decided that, while

selling – if you don’t, you’re doomed.”

against them succeeding?

[28] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

The digital development of Keeley

With the company’s track record


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WHY GET INVOLVED Join the market leader in document scanning solutions PFU EMEA LTD* to understand the key business drivers around scanning and the paper-to-digital conversation in our fast-changing workplace. They’ll be sharing their recent findings from their Organisational Intelligence report that will give you the detail you need to help you capture business from new and existing clients, looking at where customers are on their transformational journey, what their concerns and challenges might be and the importance they place on scanning and information capture. They will explain how their award winning scanners and software provide quick, easy and cost-effective solutions for your customers.

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Webinars brought to you by Dealer Support www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [29]


LEADERSHIP

[30] FEBRUARY 2021

F U T U R E O F PA P E R

www.dealersupport.co.uk


F U T U R E O F PA P E R

LEADERSHIP

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of how people work; one that has, perhaps, been under-appreciated is how paper, and paper products are consumed, and how customer demands have altered

W

hile there have been

people work in an office or home

ambitions to create

environment. Of course, the COVID-19

a ‘paperless office’

pandemic has meant that many more

for many years

people are now working remotely, and

now, paper remains

this has changed demand for paper

a mainstay of the office, and a regular order to office products suppliers from

products. “There has been a significant

customers across the range of business

increase in demand for multi-purpose,

sectors is still the norm.

multi-functional sheets, with brands

Although the use of paper may have

such as Multicopy, Navigator and Pro-

declined in some ways in recent years

Design proving increasingly popular,”

– for instance, many documents are

says Brad. “This is understandable,

now stored electronically, rather than

as they are incredibly versatile sheets

physically, in filing cabinets – it still

that are perfect for a wide variety

plays a vital role in sharing information

of end-use applications including

in a physical and personal format.

reports, artwork, proofing notes and

“Generally speaking, people still prefer reading printed literature in comparison to virtual or screen-based

There has been a significant increase in demand for multipurpose, multifunctional sheets

schoolwork, whether full colour or black and white prints. “The above brands are well-

office papers that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

printing,” explains Brad Goldsmith,

established, and recognised in the

marketing services manager at Premier

market by consumers and end-users.

at paper, packaging and visual

Paper Group. “Studies suggest that

Furthermore, they are incredibly

communications specialist Antalis,

reading from screens is around 20-

reliable, with Pro-Design boasting

agrees. “The ‘new normal’ under

30% less effective than reading from

a 99.99% jam-free guarantee. This

COVID has put greater emphasis on

printed literature, although this could

level of reliability has been a big draw

paper, particularly if you look at our

be subjective. However, excessive screen

for customers due to the time and,

home working and schooling balancing

time is shown to impact concentration

therefore, cost savings associated with

act,” he says. “Paper is fulfilling a wider

levels and eye fatigue. Uncoated papers,

experiencing fewer jams, reprints and

range of tasks, often on a home inkjet

with a high whiteness and opacity,

machine breaks.

printer, not the centralised office or

are perfect for reading printed text;

“As many companies and schools

Paul Savill, product manager

classroom printer.

they’re free from glare and the contrast

continue to work and study from

between the print and the paper is

home, expect to see these same

unknown. However, it would appear

much easier on the eyes.”

trends develop further - a continued

that our home working/schooling is set

demand for versatile, reliable brands of

to last until Easter.”

This remains important whether

“How long this will last for is, as yet,

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [31]


LEADERSHIP

F U T U R E O F PA P E R

RECYCLED REQUIREMENT Paul adds that there is also a growing requirement for recycled and/or sustainable papers. “Whether it be part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, or the personal preference of a more environmentally conscious

Future buying decisions and demand will, undoubtedly, be driven by environmental considerations

home-user, the two often are thrown together for consideration,” he says. “Office papers are well represented,

Pro-Design continue to be popular

online shopping, takeaway and home

with certifications such as FSC, PEFC

choices among paper users due to their

delivery – which brings the issue

and the EU Ecolabel, what is less clear,

outstanding environmental credentials,

of waste into focus. “The increased

perhaps, to the buyer is what this

recyclability and their direct support

online consumption, coupled home

actually means and how to compare

of the Woodland Trust and the carbon

working, has thrown a spotlight on

their respective merits.

capture programme,” he says.

the growing problem of packaging waste, particularly plastics in food

“Future buying decisions and demand will, undoubtedly, be driven by

CHANGING HABITS

packaging,” says Liz. “Environmental

environmental considerations and the

However, as Dr Liz Wilks, EU director,

credentials and content have become

challenge will be to educate buyers and

sustainability and stakeholder, at

an even more hot topic in the paper

end-users to assist them in making well-

APP, notes, individual home working

and packaging industry.

informed and balanced choices based

employees have their own tastes,

on their particular needs and wants.

which isn’t always for recycled. “Office

can take positives out of the pandemic,

papers take a different form [at home];

such as appreciating what we do have,

CO2 neutral papers, now available, the

consumers prefer more virgin fibre

becoming more aware of our natural

paper industry certainly has a stronger

products than recycled – this is also

environment and taking care with our

environmental focus than ever before.”

the case for tissue paper – and more

packaging and recycling.

“With carbon offsetting schemes, and

Brad agrees that CSR and

premium than economy as they are

“As we begin 2021 I hope that we

“The things I will take away into

sustainability continue to be big

not purchased en masse, as well as the

2021 is that, sometimes, less can be

issues for individual consumers and

higher grades consumed,” she says.

more. The way we view ‘the office’

companies alike. “Products such as

The pandemic has also changed

Woodland Trust Printer Paper and

consumer habits - as with increased

[32] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

has changed forever, and paper still has its place.”


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LEADERSHIP

SOCIAL MEDIA

Staying relevant on social media in 2021 Dani Barker, founder of Social Source, explains why transitioning your business online, and building your brand’s presence on social media, has now become a non-negotiable through the mental ‘spam’ filter they’ve created in their subconscious minds so

comes at a great cost. Planning and producing content,

that your message actually gets heard.

managing platforms, nurturing

But how? Here are the three essential

communities, running paid campaigns

components to becominig and staying

and analysing data all make a dent

relevant on social media in 2021 and

in your marketing budget whether

beyond.

you bring these processes in-house or outsource them. You’re spreading your

SHOWING UP IN THE RIGHT

time, energy and budget too thin. However, there is a more efficient

ust being online

PLACES

isn’t enough.

It’s a common misconception that, in

(and less stressful) way to do things.

Success will require

order to be successful on social media,

You see, one of the key components

you to become

you need to be posting content on every

of becoming – and, more importantly

and stay relevant

single one of the platforms available.

- staying relevant on social media is

in order to build a truly future-proof

There’s a lot to choose from nowadays;

knowing where you need to be focusing

brand and business in the virtual world.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,

your efforts. Instead of trying to show

TikTok, Clubhouse, podcasting, blogging,

up everywhere, be more selective in

Because people’s most precious

Pinterest, Snapchat - and who knows

which platforms you choose to build

and finite resources are their time

what will be next. I’m not surprised that

your presence on. Ask yourself what

and attention. Every day they get

so many business owners and marketing

social media platforms are your ideal

bombarded with thousands upon

teams find it exhausting just to think

clients and customers most likely to

thousands of social media posts and

about. Not to mention creating content in

spend their time on? Start by narrowing

advertisements. You need to be able

so many different mediums, and posting

this down to just three platforms and

to cut through the noise and pass

consistently in so many different places,

focus on consistently publishing content

J

Why is relevancy so important?

[34] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


SOCIAL MEDIA

LEADERSHIP

there before committing to using any

picture projects you’re working on

SHOWING UP AT THE RIGHT

more. As soon as you sacrifice the

and highlighting the impact your

TIME

consistency or quality of your content

business is making on the world.

We’ve covered the where and the what, which leaves just the third and final

in order to manage more pages, your brand’s relevancy will plummet as your

What is not valuable content? Posts that

component to becoming and staying

audience can no longer depend on you

read just like plain adverts do not have

relevant - when you show up on social

to show up.

any value for your audience. The truth

media. Your content needs to be

is, most of your followers aren’t ready

relevant to the here and now in order to

SHOWING UP WITH VALUABLE

to buy yet and these robotic, and overly

make the most impact. For example, it’s

CONTENT

corporate, self-promotion posts are only

no good selling Christmas cards in the

Now that you’ve picked which social

going to push them further away.

summer.

media platforms you’d like to use to

You need to think of yourself as the

Ask yourself what problems are your

grow your brand, and ensured that

guide in your customer’s journey. This

clients and customers facing now? And

these align with your customers’ habits,

means that it’s your responsibility to

what problems are they going to need to

it’s time to think about what exactly

help them along the way by educating

solve as the year goes on? Your audience

you’re going to post about. By far one

them on the problem they’re facing

will engage much more with content

of the biggest mistakes I see companies

and how to solve it. Selling solutions to

that is ‘in-season’ because they are able

making across virtually every sector

people’s problems is very different from

to take action on your advice and offers

is that their content lacks value.

selling products and services.

immediately before their attention is

Without value, you cannot hope to gain relevancy.

Use your social media posts to share tips, real-life stories and

stolen by something or someone else. Let’s bring it all together. In order

support whilst making sure that you’re

to become and stay relevant on social

regard to social media content?

spending time connecting with your

media in 2021, and beyond, you need

Valuable content fulfils one or more of

followers so that you get to know them

to make sure that you are showing up

the following criteria:

as humans, not just ‘leads’. You can do

on the right platforms, with the right

• it’s entertaining, e.g. memes,

this simply by spending a little time

content, at the right time.

So, what does ‘value’ mean with

challenges, and video diaries;

every day replying to their comments

When you achieve this consistently,

and answering their messages. First

you’ll position your brand at the top of

your audience needs to get to know

your clients’ and customers’ minds, thus

you, then they get to like you and build

becoming the ‘go-to’ for when they’re

e.g. sharing stories from your team,

trust in your brand and, eventually,

ready to invest in your solution to their

clients or customers, what big-

they invest in what you have to offer.

problems.

• it’s educational, e.g. tutorials, ‘howto’s’, FAQs and infographics; • it’s inspirational or empowering,

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [35]


S TAY I N G H O M E

SALES SUCCESS

The COVID-19 pandemic saw the number of people working from home rocket overnight last March – as did orders for all manner of home office equipment – and, with the latest lockdown still ongoing, demand for products is still high hen the third

as a short-term solution, we are seeing

on. These products are vital to ensure

national lockdown

many home workers investing in

the physical and mental wellbeing of

was announced by

upgrading their home working spaces

staff while working from home.

the government

with modern, fresh products. There

on January 4 the

is a real opportunity for resellers to

home shredding, as many businesses

tentative moves by some businesses to

overdrive the sales of WFH products

are now equipping their staff with

bring more employees back into the

before offices re-open fully, and we see

shredders to ensure they focus on

office were reversed overnight.

stationery cupboards being filled again.”

GDPR compliance when disposing of

W

With ongoing uncertainty about

At the start of the first lockdown

“We have also seen an uptick in

work documents at home.”

when current restrictions will be lifted,

demand focused on basic products,

it seems likely that working from home

such as laptop risers, keyboards, mouses

HIGH END ERGONOMIC

(WFH) will continue to be the norm

and headsets; many professionals had

SOLUTIONS

for many office workers for the first half

never worked from home before the

Jeremy Cooper, marketing manager

of 2021 at least. Staff seem to echo this

start of the pandemic, so they needed to

at Fellowes, has also seen an increase

sentiment, with 60% of respondents in

start from scratch to set up their home

in enquiries for higher end solutions

a GFK survey, sponsored by ACCO,

working spaces.

during this lockdown. “Especially

reporting that they expect remote work

“These staple products have

laptop risers, sit-stand desk convertors,

to continue in 2021, says Elisabete

been the best sellers throughout the

wrist supports, monitor arms and

Wells, ACCO’s regional marketing

pandemic,” explains Elisabete. “As

personal shredders to securely destroy

director, UK and Ireland.

time goes on, and WFH continues as

confidential paperwork,” he says.

“Some companies have already

the standard, we are seeing customers

“Out of this assortment, monitor

announced that remote and ‘hybrid’

upgrading their setups. Resellers have

arms is the one line above all others

working models will become standard

seen growth in health and wellness-

to give a clear indication of the shift

practice, post-pandemic, meaning the

related categories and products

towards more permanent home

home office will still be very relevant

designed to make working from home

working, being the product of choice for

in the mid-to long-term,” she says.

more comfortable, such as backrests,

people who work with two screens and

“Since WFH is no longer being viewed

footrests, trackballs, air purifiers, and so

need to make the most of their desk

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [37]


SALES SUCCESS

S TAY I N G H O M E

space, and keep organised.” But there is scope for more investment in home offices, Jeremy

finishes, woods and colours available –

office chairs as people are realising

all designed to complement the home

that a lower quality chair can lead to

environment.”

fatigue, greater discomfort and less productivity.”

adds. A study commissioned by

Simon adds that, while ergonomic

Fellowes, entitled New Way of Working,

IMPORTANCE OF POSTURE

interviewed 7,000 employees across

Marianne adds that, as permanency

chairs are more expensive than standard

Europe to understand the detrimental

becomes the norm, and health

office chairs, people are thinking of

impact that imposed home working has

matters more than ever, Data Direct

them as a long-term investment for

had on their mental health and physical

has introduced a range of sit-stand

their health, as they lower the risk of

wellbeing. It found that only 49% have

desks with optional positioning to

injury and strain, and let employees

a proper home workstation, with 10%

improve posture while working long

focus without distraction and

admitting to working from their sofas,

hours. “Employers have a duty of care

discomfort.

5% from their beds and 3% on the

in protecting the health, safety and

floor. In addition, 45% of workers have

wellbeing of their employees working

of office furniture, we believe that we

never completed a home workstation

from home, and dealers should be

have a responsibility try and educate

risk assessment. “This can only further

able to work with their customers in

people on the benefits of home working

support the need for employers to invest

providing optimum solutions,” she says.

solutions to ensure that the space people

in the most appropriate equipment for

Simon Howarth, marketing and

“As a specialist UK manufacturer

dedicate for their home office also

design manager at DAMS, agrees.

has everything they need to function

“During the first lockdown we saw a

optimally during the working day,” he

towards more high-end homeworking

huge surge in sales of our budget office

says. “If you need a space big enough

products and equipment, according to

chairs to people’s homes as people

for a printer and a laptop, make sure

sales director Marianne Chamberlain.

wanted an office chair instead of sitting

the desk you have is sufficient to house

“We made available homeworking

at the dining room table, or front room

both comfortably, so that you are not

desks from the start, all produced in

sofa,” he says. “Many people didn’t

cramped while working. We’ve also seen

the UK by our sister company, ddb

pay attention to the importance of the

a big increase in sales of our dedicated

Ltd (Draft Design Build). These desks

right chair and, instead of getting an

home workstations for use in open or

were produced as a response to a new

ergonomic chair, they just went for the

in limited spaces, as more people want

and growing demand from dealers

cheapest option.

to ensure the space looks and feels as

their staff,” says Jeremy. Data Direct has also noted a move

and their end-user customers for

“However, during the latter part

practical solutions at home. Our range

of 2020 and this year, we have seen

is significant once you consider the

an increase in sales of our ergonomic

[38] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

professional as possible, and to keep everything organised and tidy.” Max Vialou-Clark, managing


Home office organisation with

Ensure your customers have everything they need to create a stress free, organised home office with ACCO, Post it and Dymo! VOW Wholesale has a large selection of marketing tools available to help you promote organisation in any office, including the home office.

in partnership with

Tel: 0844 980 8000 Web: www.vowwholesale.co.uk


SALES SUCCESS

S TAY I N G H O M E

director of AJ Products (UK) Ltd,

to enhance their workspaces, according

more productive and reduce the impact

has also seen “huge and continuous”

to Sam Rylands, marketing manager

of their work on their home life.”

demand for office chairs and small

at Durable UK. “According to the

office desks since the beginning of the

Fraunhofer Institute, 10% of productive

manager at ExaClair, notes that a recent

first lockdown. “This has led many

work time is lost through searching for

IPSOS survey indicates that writing

office furniture manufacturers to design

equipment and paperwork so the ‘Clean

instruments and notebooks remain

furniture exclusively for the home office

Desk Principle’ is really important when

the most popular items, with around

environment,” he says. “Active office

working from home,” he says.

a third of those working from home

furniture - such as balance balls, wobble

“Desktop drawer boxes have

stools and small sit-stand desks - has

been in high demand to help manage

also seen a rise in interest.”

paperwork and files without the

Lawrence Savage, marketing

also seeking filing and organisation products.

need for conventional and, let’s face

SUSTAINABLE SOURCING

home office equipment to grow as more

it, outdated filing cabinets that are

There is also a trend among home

people make working from home a

impractical for home working.”

workers to purchase desktop accessories

He expects the trend for ergonomic

permanent part of their lives. “Many

Demand has also been high for

that are manufactured from sustainable

firms are expecting remote working to

cable management boxes, and clips

sources as the ecological awareness

continue well into 2021, while others

that keep workspaces tidy, Sam adds.

of end-users increases. The ability

are talking about reducing their office

“They’re in high demand, especially

to create a versatile home office

space, or even closing their offices

where workers are sharing their

environment, which easily integrates

permanently,” he says. “Perhaps the

workspace with home living (for

into their surroundings, is a trend that

most likely scenario will see employees

example, a kitchen table) to maintain

is set to continue influencing future

splitting their time between office and

a work-life balance, or to stop children

product design, Lawrence adds. “The

home working, creating a need for a

grabbing/tripping over wires.

IPSOS survey also reveals that 43%

flexible home office set up that can be

“Cable management solutions that

of UK home-based workers prefer a

can bundle cables together, and hide

nature-inspired environment, which

them in discreet boxes to keep them

incorporates themes of wood and

ENHANCING WORKSPACE

tidy, yet accessible have, therefore,

vegetation textures.”

As well as furniture, home office

been highly sought after. Both product

workers have been investing in products

categories help to make the worker

used one–to-two days a week.”

[40] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

In response, Exacompta has developed a range that includes


SALES SUCCESS

S TAY I N G H O M E

various filing and desktop accessories

of product rocket in the past 12 months,”

temperature increase,” she adds. Other

made from wood residue, or recycled

says Sam Mason from Deflecto.

product lines that are popular include

cardboard. This is covered with a paper

Lawrence agrees. “Products which

headsets. “Background noise is still an

coated with vegetable oil, providing

are treated with antimicrobial additives

issue at home (kids, partners, etc.) so

excellent water resistance, while

to protect against bacteria, viruses,

noise-cancelling and sound quality is as

also ensuring durability and ease of

mould and fungi continue to be in

important as ever.”

recyclability.

high demand.”

Lawrence expects that consumer

Deflecto has expanded its range to

With online meetings via platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams

preferences for innovative products -

include a protective surface covering

now becoming a standard for

which form part of a circular economy

designed with the same bacteria-killing

homeworkers, Mandalin says that

- are set to continue growing as they

abilities as its other products, which can

quality webcams have also become

become increasingly aware of future

be used on handrails, door handles and,

more popular. “Video quality is

ecological impacts. “Additionally, there

for larger surface areas, has launched a

important to maintain high standards

is a rising fashion for the Scandinavian

330mm width version, perfect for desks.

of interaction as it is the only means

‘Hygge’ style for creating an office

Sam adds that Deflecto will be

to visually interact with most people.”

‘cocoon’, which incorporates fresh pastel

expanding its antimicrobial product

Likewise, speakers are important to

colours that can inspire imagination,

range this year, with 10 products already

ensure the quality of sound. “Built-in

calmness and clarity of thought. Thus,

set for launch. “We believe antimicrobial

speakers allows user to take off the

recommending office stationery in these

products will be an area of growth for the

headset for a moment but still maintain

on-trend colours is ideal.

foreseeable future,” he says.

good audio quality.” She adds that keyboards, and

ANTIMICROBIAL SOLUTIONS

VIDEO NICETIES

ergonomic mice that provide a

Deflecto had been working on a range

Mandalin Farmer, product marketing

comfortable and safe wrist position,

of office desktop products with built-in

manager at VOW Wholesale, agrees

have also been popular, as have inkjet

antimicrobial protection prior to the

that desktop accessories are increasingly

printers and supplies. “Work and school

outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

in demand, especially those that blend

printing simply moved from the office/

that kill 99.9% harmful bacteria from

in with the home environment as WFH

schools to the home,” she says.

the surface of the products including

is seen as a more permanent move.

a waste bin, self-stacking letter tray,

“The later winter lockdowns required a

evolve, but don’t expect demand to

magazine file, pen tidy and landscape

new requirement for small appliances,

dramatically slip, especially in the first

and portrait wall pockets.

such as desk lamps/heaters, but this

half of the year – home working is here

may reduce as daylight hours and the

to stay!”

“We have seen demand for this type

[42] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk

“These trends will change and


THE independent event for UK dealers PUT THIS IN YOUR DIARY! Thursday 21st October 2021 Ricoh Arena, Coventry

IMPROVISE ADAPT OVERCOME


SALES SUCCESS

TEABREAK

LIVE IT Life hack Dropped something on your new, white top? Grab a lemon! Combine lemon juice and salt, apply to your stain, and let sit for half an hour. Rinse with warm water and wash as per usual. This cleaner is safe to use on even delicate or vintage fabrics.

CAPTION FUN

TWEET CAPTIONS TO @DEALERSUPPORT

THUMBS UP A cheesy gift As reported by BBC News, a nurse said she was “lost for words” after school pupils clubbed together to buy pizza for staff at their local critical care unit. Tina Waltho tweeted a photo of pizza boxes which she said turned up this week at the Royal Stoke University Hospital. A bit of investigating revealed they were a gift from a group of sixth form students. The tweet prompted a huge outpouring of praise on social media. “At a time when healthcare staff feel so low and deflated, responses like this remind us that we are supported,” critical care nurse Tina said.

Quote of the month “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey –

[44] FEBRUARY 2021

www.dealersupport.co.uk


TEABREAK

Did you know? The largest known living organism is an aspen grove. Pando (Latin for ‘I spread out’) is a group of genetically identical ‘quaking aspens’ in Utah which have an interconnected root system. It’s an estimated 80,000 years old, and takes up more than 100 acres.

PUB QUIZ

SALES SUCCESS

?

1. Who plays Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders? 2. How many legs does a lobster have?

Snow in the Sahara Snow has fallen in the Sahara desert after temperatures dropped to -3C,

4. What are the four Little Women sisters called? 5. In which century did Leonardo da Vinci paint The Last Supper? Answers: 1. Cillian Murphy 2. Eight 3. The Bible 4. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy 5. Fifteenth century

Knock me down with a feather

3. What’s the bestselling book of all time?

What a wonderful world

Sky News has reported. Did the elephants come in two-by-two?

Karim Bouchetata recorded the

BBC News has reported that scientists are using pictures from an Earth-

rare event in Ain Sefra, Algeria, with

observation satellite orbiting 600km (372 miles) above the planet’s surface

thawing ice creating beautiful patterns

to count African elephants from space. The breakthrough could allow up to

on the sand. The Sahara, which covers

5,000sq km of elephant habitat to be surveyed on a single cloud-free day.

most of northern Africa, has gone

All the laborious elephant counting is done via machine learning - a

through shifts in temperature over

computer algorithm trained to identify elephants in a variety of backdrops.

the past few hundred thousand years

“We just present examples to the algorithm and tell it, ‘This is an elephant;

- but snow and ice are still very rare.

this is not an elephant,’” Dr Olga Isupova, of the University of Bath,

The town, in the Naama province,

explained. This approach could vastly improve the monitoring of threatened

has experienced snow only three

elephant populations in habitats that span international borders, where it

other times in 42 years - in 1979,

can be difficult to obtain permission for aircraft surveys.

2017 and 2018.

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [45]


SALES SUCCESS

F A T H E R P. C L I P

Bringing hope, peace and unity to the good brethren of the business supplies community

The good Father meets a Sir, discusses ducks and takes a hike! e have a tradition in Clip Office. Every February we all go on a big walk up stationery hill and talk about how we are going to make improvements to our current systems and discuss new ideas for growing the business. This year we brought along one of the top brass in Office Standoffish - as you know, we’ve been a member of this buying and marketing group for a long time now and words can’t express how much they’ve done for us over the years. His name is Sir Roger Drakebody, and he didn’t realise that when he got off his plane he would have to quarantine for two weeks in a hostel for the homeless. We thought he knew that already, and had planned in the diary that we would speak to him two weeks from his landing at Ballycrossmecraic

W

[46] FEBRUARY 2021 www.dealersupport.co.uk

Unintentional Airport, so we were surprised at his apparent annoyance when we saw him. I have to admit that his spirits were low when we picked him up, but once we had given him some food and water, and he was given internet access and electricity, he soon perked up and was ready to roll. At the top of the hill Mrs O’ Reilly, who looks after our IT, HR, GDPR, BBC and ITV, kicked off the proceedings with what she thought were some meaningful topics for discussion. She thought that this year we should major with one product, Toilet Duck. She said that it covered every angle as far as cleanliness and sanitation were concerned, and that it also mentioned the name of an animal which everyone in the office products industry loved. Sir Roger was keen on this and said that he loved to feed the ducks on

his estate, but he warned us never to give them bread as it was bad for their digestion. This was duly minuted, and everyone took a mental note to buy some dried fruit and seeds. Next on the agenda was an idea from our warehouse manager and head of Toilet Duck stocks, Colin Culdesac. He suggested that, instead of damages and deliveries being a problem, we should turn it into a positive and organise a competition amongst the customers to see who got the most damaged goods. Customers could send in a photograph when they got their delivery and, at the end of each month, we could send them out a prize. All in all, it was very productive - and even Sir Roger left the meeting with his spirits high! It was only when he found out that he had to quarantine again at the other end that he began to feel a little down in the dumps again...


FINAL WORD

SALES SUCCESS

Jack of all trades?

HOW DEALERS CAN THRIVE IN THE AGE OF AMAZON Sabrina Evans, marketing executive at Office Power, discusses how dealers can take advantage of Amazon’s weaknesses mazon has been surfing the swell of success since the early 2010s, and now this behemoth is widely recognised as the most influential e-tailer on the planet. Unlike many businesses that saw the pandemic cripple their livelihoods, COVID has proved just another rung on Amazon’s ladder to success. It may seem like Amazon has it all, but no business is bulletproof. Where there are strengths, there are weaknesses. And where there are weaknesses, there are opportunities for the well-versed, well-equipped and innovative independent dealers in this market. Ask anyone to list the qualities which draw them to Amazon, and ease of use will likely be near the top, but Amazon’s ability to control and personalise customer experience through multiple resellers is pretty limited. This leaves a significant opening for dealers to benefit, provided they have the tools to do so. By using ecommerce technology - which enables

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a smartly segmented, expertly targeted and well-positioned approach to increase sales - dealers can tailor their customer journey and better align themselves to meet customer needs. Additionally, what Amazon resellers may enjoy in presence, they lack in back-end tech, relying on generalised algorithms which better fit a reactive – not proactive – sales strategy. If dealers use a flexible CRM system designed specifically for our industry, with an array of tools to help pinpoint where they can sell more, score bigger orders and build lucrative customer relationships, they’re winning in an area which Amazon has, seemingly, neglected. Ultimately, Amazon thrives on the demand for efficiency which our instant gratification culture creates and, though they can provide a range of products with fast and cheap delivery, customer support is very limited. Connecting with customers, understanding their needs, getting problems resolved quickly – and helping to avoid them in the first place – are understated qualities which almost every dealer possesses. Add to this the fact that Amazon’s

Sabrina Evans

depth of product knowledge, and ability to draw on local brand presence, doesn’t come close to rivalling that of an independent office supplies dealer, and we can conclude one thing; Amazon may be the Jack of all trades, but it’s the master of none. By establishing the perfect blend of technology, advanced ecommerce capabilities and friendly, knowledgebased service, dealers can begin to move out of the shadow which Amazon has cast over our industry for some time. The opportunity is there if dealers choose to take it.

Read the full article here: www.officepower.net/amazon

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2021 [47]


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EVERY KIND OF CUSTOMER Sustainable, straightforward, long-lasting products trusted by customers at home and in the workplace for over 100 years; BANKERS BOX® is better in every way. A household name, and a family business since 1917, built on enduring values and manufactured with advanced techniques. Backed by engaging omni-channel marketing, effective customer support and a range intended to make category management simple. They’re much more than just boxes – they’re made for life.

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IT PREDICTIONS FOR 2020 What to expect for the year ahead

PHIL JONES Brother UK’s MD talks learning and leadership

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MARKETING Why now is the time

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2020 VISION

2020 VISION New products and categories

More Shredding. Zero Jamming.

February 2020

TRANSFORMING THE CHANNEL

PHIL JONES

OEMS AND MPS

IT PREDICTIONS

2020 VISION

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Next Generation Shredders

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Fellowes new LX Series micro-cut shredders are thoughtfully designed with patented IntelliBar™ responsive technology.

TRANSFORMING THE CHANNEL IN 2020 Predictions from Phil Jones

Shred 100% jam free Shred with maximum micro-cut security S hred more, empty less with a waste bin capacity of up to 150% more sheets Shred with optimal efficiency The next level of performance and robust quality from the global leader in shredders.

DELIVERING WHAT’S BEEN PROMISED Steve McKeever’s advice for dealers BREAKING INTO EDUCATION Making your way in a lucrative sector

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