Hugh Davies, Epson Europe regional manager* for product management and business systems, has been with the company for almost exactly the same length of time as the company has partnered with Kemtek as its Southern African distributor. We spoke to him about the relationship between the two enterprises, and how its strength has helped grow the on-demand label printing sector.
It all starts with people
Davies describes the ongoing relationship with Kemtek as extremely fruitful, and attributes this to the people involved. He highlights the synergies between Kemtek and Epson and explains that they are based on a shared proactive approach to providing solutions, rather than merely distributing devices.
The strength of Kemtek’s relationships with its reseller network and with end users, in combination with changes in the business landscape, have created opportunities to transition customers to on-demand label printers. These opportunities have been driven by Kemtek’s ability to leverage the trust they have built up into cross-selling opportunities.
On-demand is in demand
The attributes of on-demand label printing (especially flexibility, versatility, output quality and responsiveness) make this technology applicable to both nationwide chains, and small, medium and micro enterprises. This has created demand at both ends of the enterprise scale, from “side hustle” online businesses all the way up to retailers with vast footprints and hundreds of stores.
Green is the new black
Another value that Epson and Kemtek share is a sincere commitment to sustainability. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that finding greener ways to do business is in the DNA of each company. For Epson, this is evident at every stage of the process, beginning with the use of the recyclable and recycled materials they use to manufacture their devices.
Energy efficiency is a key consideration, as is the downstream impact of Epson label printer usage: non-toxic inks and a reduction in waste production help end users to augment their own sustainability credentials.
The future of labelling
Davies accurately describes demand for label printers as a barometer of the overall performance of the economy. This insight has held true throughout the systemic changes that resulted from the pandemic. Whether customers shop online or in brick-and-mortar stores, items need to be labelled to facilitate inventory control, price checks and shipping.
On-demand label printers enabled business continuity through lockdowns when traditional converters were unable to operate. Now that Covid-19 is largely behind us, they are also playing a role in attracting customers back to malls and to hospitality venues and events by delivering more engaging colour labels, shelf talkers and tickets.
The breadth and depth of Kemtek’s customer base – which covers a great many sectors and is served by an array of world-class printing and auto ID solutions – naturally creates opportunities in related sectors. As companies place an increasing emphasis on traceability and compliance, there is a growing role for labelling solutions at every stage of every value chain, from agriculture to automotive and manufacturing.
In this context, the advantages of on-demand label printing are readily apparent. Epson has been at the forefront of innovations across all sectors, such as ensuring that all Epson ColorWorks printers are GHS-compliant (for use in labelling hazardous chemicals).
Spreading the word
In Hugh’s experience, the best way to sell an on-demand label printer is to let a customer see it in action, and to let them have a hands-on experience with it. Trade shows and conventions are therefore particularly valuable opportunities, and Davies acknowledges Kemtek’s ability to identify must-attend events, and to encourage key decision makers to attend.
Epson ColorWorks printers are functional products; PowerPoint presentations and online research simply don’t do them justice. Events like the Kemtek Indaba offer opportunities to show what these machines are capable of, while the Kemtek Centre of Excellence (and Epson’s own demonstration facilities) encourage direct contact with customers, and between customers and label printers.
Immense growth potential
Changes in consumer behaviour – and the way that companies are actively seeking to anticipate and address these – are driving demand for labelling innovation. This has created both device and consumables sales opportunities for Kemtek’s reseller network, and both Epson and Kemtek are actively supporting focused resellers as they unlock new revenue streams.
The benefits of on-demand label printing
One of the most important innovations in labelling – and the one which is best aligned to changes in business requirements – is on-demand printing. While the cost-per-label cannot match what is achievable on immensely long runs of identical labels, there are multiple other benefits in scenarios where flexibility and customisation are vital.
On-demand label printing can help companies avoid invisible costs such as wastage and the impact on brands of substandard labels. The precision, colour register and overall quality that can be achieved with Epson ColorWorks printers eliminate these issues, as do innovations such as larger-capacity ink cartridges.
Ultimately, Davies believes that the success of on-demand label printing solutions – in terms of best fit with end users – depends on a thorough and honest needs analysis. Given Kemtek’s track record of trust-based relationship building, this is a step that will be easy to achieve across a very wide range of industries, thereby exposing more companies to the proven benefits of on-demand label printing.
* For the “CISMETA” region: Commonwealth of Independent States, Middle East, Turkey and Africa
Kemtek is celebrating 35 years of successful evolution thanks to an ongoing drive to deliver the best possible outcomes to our customers. The company has grown from being an equipment supplier into a trusted solutions partner. Working with global partners, including world-class, innovative OEMs, Kemtek has pivoted its business to focus on seven key areas: auto ID technology, labelling solutions, digital print technology, large-format printing technology, additive manufacturing technology, 3D printing technology and renewable resources technology.
Kemtek is deeply committed to achieving ambitious transformation targets through providing an inclusive environment for all team members. The company continuously strives to improve its B-BBEE contributor level, and on an individual level provides ongoing upskilling and educational opportunities for all Kemtek employees.
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