Dr W Edwards Deming is the genius credited with putting Japan back onto the business map after the economic and public relations disaster called the Second World War. He managed to claw back the country’s credibility after its potential customers had nuclear bombed it, twice. Deming did it with a simple mantra. Put quality and service before costs and your customers will be happy. Fail to do so and your business cannot thrive.
Nottingham-based Artsystems is a leading distributor of sign, design and fine art print hardware and consumables. Its business is thriving and so are its resellers. If Deming were to look at the ArtSystems business model he would surely approve; and at its core is one other attribute that is all too often overlooked in the mad scramble to add every bell and whistle a company can provide – simplicity.
ArtSystems follows an evolutionary business model that supports business for its resellers. Marketing manager John Draycott and his colleague Andrew Hand are proud of the distributor’s portfolio and the fact that, although ArtSystems does not sell directly to graphics professionals, it is very hands-on with both pre- and post-purchase support, offering a complete package that simplifies the sales process for its resellers.
“First,” said John, “we sourced a portfolio of high quality products. For example, regarding hardware ArtSystems is the exclusive UK distributor for HP Latex printers. We also deal with Summa, Canon, Colourtrac Stratasys and MakerBot. We support the Onyx RIP and our man Andrew Edwards is one of the UK’s leading experts on how to use it, plus profiling and colour management.
“On the media/consumable side we distribute HP, Canon Xativa, Hahnemuhle, Innova, JM Textiles, 3P Textiles and Verseidag. That means our portfolio covers everything from entry-level to top-of the range products for printing, cutting, scanning and 3D printing through to vinyls and art canvases and everything in between. We are quite selective about our product range. We will only consider goods that fit in with our current portfolio and work in the sign, display and fine art marketplace.
ArtSystems provides effective solutions, the only question being ‘what is it you want to do?’”
Andrew said: “Second, we have put in place comprehensive sales support. For instance we provide the UK warranty and maintenance package for HP Latex, plus training. We have a fully equipped demonstration suite so potential buyers can come along and find out just what any the systems can do for them.
“We also ensure the hardware is installed correctly,” he continued. “We think of it as an all-in-one installation solution which means everything from delivery to positioning is done properly. We will even supply an electrician if the customer needs to upgrade their wiring to meet the hardware’s needs. It takes pressure off the reseller’s shoulders and ensures the end-user gets a fully professional service, but we always ensure it’s our reseller who gets the credit.”
Added value, enhanced rewards
ArtSystems is able to cater for large corporate organisations and one-man bands. Its network of more than 700 resellers is made up of companies large enough to have their own service fleets or individuals who use eBay. All get treated with the same high degree of consideration – including bespoke packaging and bar-coding if required. In the immense warehouse dedicated to consumables the distributor has stationed a specialist labelling printer that churns out metres of stickers adorned with resellers’ logos, bar-codes and other information. When products arrive with the end-user they are marked up in the retailer’s familiar colours
Some resellers don’t have their own logos so ArtSystems will design one for them at no cost. John explained: “Every initiative we put in place that helps our resellers’ make a sale is a positive step for us. By personalising packaging we ensure the end-user is kept aware of who they are dealing with. If someone bought a roll of vinyl from Perfect Colours, say, then that is who sent it and the packaging agrees. It simplifies the sales process, avoids confusion and everybody’s happy.’
Providing business partners with access to ArtSystems’ new Sales and Marketing Portal has proved a huge success. It is a tremendous online facility offering direct, free access to a wealth of marketing tools, e-templates, product information and more from a single easy to navigate location.
By using it resellers gain instant access to a wide range of professional materials they can use to buoy up their marketing activities. Visitors to the Portal can choose from a broad range of product specific marketing materials such as e-shots, catalogues, A4 adverts, postcards and presentations across a wide selection of the distributor’s product portfolio.
This facility will be expanded to include ever better assets as they become available, but even in its current incarnation it offers a comprehensive selection of extremely well-considered marketing tools.
Andrew said: “We think of the support process as creating a cascade of success that benefits everyone in the sales chain. Ultimately we want the end-user sign and display professional to be successful, so we make sure their machine is installed correctly and they know how to use it. That involves application, information and education. An HP Latex printer, for example, can probably do more than the graphics professional needs straightaway, but as they learn what the machine can do they will develop their skill base too and be able to offer their customers an improved service.”
John concluded: “We need to make sure our resellers have everything they need to supply the correct information, and that they can provide their customers with what they need to succeed and grow their businesses. The more the end-user is able grow their business the more consumables they’ll need. The more applications they become involved with the more solutions they might need to consider, and they’ll turn to the people they trust to help find the tools they’ll need to do the job properly. If we make sure our resellers have been given all the tools they need to do that job then they will, in turn, be ordering more product from us. It is a win, win, win scenario, and that has to be the perfect outcome.”
Somewhere, Dr W Edwards Deming is applauding.
[Images show: (top) Artsystems' new marketing portal; (middle) Litre ink cartridges for the HP Latex wide format printer; and (below) Artsystems' dedicated consumables warehouse.]