Print in the Channel - Issue #5


Issue #5

From G to Z… How Zebra Technologies are building on a legacy to deliver next generation desktop printing with more connectivity, performance and security.



Financing your future Siemens Financial Services

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Better together Diversity is much more than a tick box exercise – and if it is done well, it can ensure all employees reach their potential and improve a business’ bottom line. What’s not to love?

Diversity is viewed by some people as a pejorative term these days – as a box to be ticked for political correctness or (ugh) woke purposes. But that is to fundamentally miss the point of having a diverse workforce – and miss out on the chance of having a better workforce and stronger bottom line as a result. Having a diverse workforce – whether that is through age, gender, ethnicity, nationality or disability – brings many benefits to a business. For instance, a diverse workforce – with the plurality of thinking, as well as different life experiences – can bring in new ideas and different perspectives on issues and problems. This can then translate into product development or sales into new areas or locations that hadn’t been accessed before – which all helps the bottom line. Diversity extends to helping employees with disabilities and neurodiversity. For instance, TD SYNNEX has recently launched its ‘Limitless’ business resource group, which is dedicated to ensuing that all co-workers with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions such as autism feel comfortable and welcome (see news p7). It’s a great initiative, which aims to ensure employees with disabilities have the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers and perform to their best of their abilities. It makes sense all round. Why would a business not help its employees to reach

their potential? People with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions can bring just as much to a role as anyone else. And surely ensuring all employees are working as hard as possible is what all employers want? Employers don’t have to do much to help their employees with disabilities to reach their potential – and it doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Often small adjustments to a person’s working arrangements can make a big difference to them and help them to reach their potential. All this should hopefully provide a good argument for diversity – and I imagine plenty of you are nodding along to this column and already do this. But for those who don’t: there is no reason not to, it isn’t difficult to do, and it could help your business to grow. The channel is always changing, and diversity of the workforce is another evolution that should happen to ensure its prosperity going forward. As always, this issue is packed with features and advice, from print management software to label printers in warehouses and distribution centres. I hope you enjoy the issue. I always like to hear feedback on what is – or isn’t – covered in the magazine, so please drop me a line at – likewise if you want to get involved in editorial in the future.

Dan Parton


Support your Channel Distributors and Resellers by using the new FREE Stock in the Channel functionality: “Authorised Distributors”. Click here to learn more

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News You should know p6 Print Management Software Managing the fleet p12 Q&A Zebra under the stripes p19 Cover Story Zebra from G to Z p24

Ingram Micro: Xvantage – p41

As data becomes more and more valuable to businesses, Print Management Software offers a solution to efficiency, security, and cost reduction. Print Management Software – p12

Ingram Micro have paved the way for the future of Distribution in the IT Channel with the launch of the first AI driven machine learning ecosystem for Channel Partners which they hope is going to change the nature of Distribution from transactions to interactions.

PaaS At your service p27 Label Printers Stick together p33 Postage Labels POD Traceable p35 Interview Steve Pearce p36 Profile Data Direct p38 Xvantage The future of distribution p41 SoHo Printers Choose wisely p48

Cover Story – p24

Zebra Technologies is building on a legacy to deliver next generation desktop printing with

more connectivity, performance, and security.

PaaS – p27

Interview: Steve Pearce – p37

Kyocera’s back with a brand new invention. Something to grab resellers tightly, so profits flow like a harpoon daily and nightly.

After being one of the pioneers of the OPEX movement, there’s a lot of SaaS talk in the print industry.



SoHo Printers– p48

Editorial Dan Parton 07941 979 845 dan@ Elliot Mulley- Goodbarne 07910 441 024 elliot@ Head of Sales Martin Jenner-Hall 07824 552 116 martin@ Publishing Director Justin Penn 07816 573 186 justin@ Written permission from the publisher is required before any part of Print in the Channel can be reproduced. © 2023 In the Channel Media Ltd.

Q&A: Zebra – p19

Finding the right printer for a home office or small office needs careful consideration and there are numerous models on the market that cater to all requirements.

Print in the Channel sat down with Rich Barfield, EMEA Product Marketing Manager, ATS Division and Jack Byrne, EMEA Senior Channel Marketing Manager

Postage Labels – p36

Tracing posted items is becoming increasingly important as customers – and senders – want to ensure their item arrives safely.

Data Direct has met the challenges that the economy has thrown at them – particularly Brexit – and helped to turn them into a positive.

Label Printers – p33

Demand for label printers in warehouses and distribution centres continues to grow, and as the market changes with colour labels and more automation becoming increasingly common, there are new opportunities for resellers to make moves into this market.

Published by: In the Channel Media Ltd Company registration number: 14363401 Registered office address 14-18 Heddon Street, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom, W1B 4DA In conjunction with:

Profile: Data Direct – p38



Demand for subscription-based printing drives growth at Printerbase

A Greater Manchester technology reseller is targeting further growth in its managed print services (MPS) offering after recording a surge in contract sales over the past 12 months. Printerbase, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, reported a 50% increase year-on-year in Brother MPS contracts. This includes the vendor’s new PrintSmart Essential package, a Netflix-style subscription service for print designed for small businesses. The reseller says that it allows their customers to pay a monthly fee for print supplies, installation, supplies recycling and maintenance services. Packages range from £5.78 to £61.37 per month, with plans available for low, medium or high print requirements, or on a pay-as-you-go basis. The packages don’t require customers to undergo credit checks or sign credit agreements, making the benefits of service printing more accessible for smaller companies. The firm is targeting a further 50% growth in sales this 2023, which it forecasts will boost its revenue to £8 million – an increase of 23% year-on-year. “There is significant momentum behind the shift to print-as-a-service, and we expect this to continue as offices strive to find cost- efficiencies in their operations this year,”

said Khalil Hussain, business manager at Printerbase. “More small businesses are making the change as they see the benefits of smaller monthly payment options that free up cash to support other areas of their business. “PrintSmart Essential means they can access a tailor-made Brother system, complete oversight of their print costs, the reassurance of repair and diagnostics support, and time-saving supplies replenishment. “MPS represents an excellent growth opportunity for us, and Brother makes it easy by creating a straightforward service for small businesses.” Chris Grimshaw, business manager – online partners, at Brother UK, added: “More businesses are turning to MPS as the way we work evolves and Printerbase’s success is testament to how simple it is to help customers move to service printing. “Innovations such as PrintSmart Essential are giving resellers an option to provide customers with a more streamlined and cost-efficient solution that meets the needs of businesses with reduced printing requirements. It also gives partners the opportunity to capitalise on the recurring revenues that MPS provides, and its why Brother is throwing its full weight behind MPS and supporting resellers to make the most of the opportunity.”

Khalil Hussain business manager

Chris Grimshaw business manager online partners

OKI Europe forms new partnership for label market

OKI Europe Ltd has announced a key strategic partnership with Kernow Coatings and Baker Materials to further develop and address a range of specialist media requirements across various different and durable label applications. “As a part of OKI’s continued expansion providing solutions for printing labels in house, we are seeing an increased demand for specialist media requirements, particularly in the area of durability,” said Rob Brown, EMEA head of business development, Pro Series, OKI Europe. “As such it is important that we can help customers understand how to source and create durable labels, which might need to withstand a range of conditions such as chemicals, water, abrasion etc.

“The range of synthetic durable media from Kernow Coatings provides outstanding results on OKI printing machines and are the perfect match to suit these high-quality application requirements that customers demand, ranging from beauty and cosmetics, through plant tags to beer bottles and a whole host more, giving businesses the ability to print a huge range of labels in-house and on-demand. “Recognising how important it is to source media in a ‘ready to print’ format, quickly and easily, Baker Materials are now holding stock of the Kernow materials approved to run on the OKI Pro10 series. Using their extensive experience and first-class facilities Bakers are able to offer conversion into a wide range of finished stocks ready to run on the OKI Pro10xx roll to roll label printer.”

Rob Brown EMEA head of business development, Pro Series OKI Europe



Pax8 Partners with Adobe

Cloud commerce marketplace Pax8 has announced that Adobe is available to purchase on the Pax8 platform across Europe, including the UK. Adobe is the world’s leading software company for providing digital marketing and media solutions. Pax8’s partners in the region will now have access to a portfolio of cloud products aimed at small-and medium-sized businesses. “This is a hugely significant moment for Pax8 in the EMEA region,” said Harald Nuij, chief executive officer at Pax8 EMEA. “Adobe’s solutions are the best in the world for empowering creativity and driving brand identity. Adobe’s game-changing innovations will truly diversify what our managed service providers (MSPs) can offer their customers, making them more competitive and allowing them to target new markets.” Brian Green, vice president GTM & sales, EMEA at Adobe, added: “At Adobe, we are

excited to elevate our business with Pax8 to a new level and bring the cloud horsepower and capabilities of Pax8’s marketplace to our partners and customers in Europe. Pax8 will play an important role in the Adobe channel ecosystem and will offer advanced technologies that allow MSPs to buy, sell, and manage Adobe products and solutions easily.” MSPs in Europe are now able to purchase two Adobe solutions through Pax8’s cloud marketplace: Adobe Creative Cloud, which delivers creative apps and services in a single, secure, integrated platform and Adobe Document Cloud, which enables complete, reliable and automated digital document and signature workflows that drive business productivity. As well as the product offering, partners can also take advantage of Pax8’s in-house Adobe expertise to maximise results for their business and their end users.

Harald Nuij chief executive officer Pax8 EMEA

TD SYNNEX supports co-workers with disabilities

TD SYNNEX has launched Limitless, a business resource group (BRG) dedicated to ensuring that co-workers with disabilities and neurodiversity of all kinds feel welcome, comfortable and fully represented within the company’s UK and Ireland operations. The scope of the Limitless BRG covers all visible and hidden disabilities, such as hearing or visual impairments, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy, as well as the broad differences in the types of minds and thinking that are defined by the term neurodiversity, such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism. It has been estimated that 15-20% of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence. “TD SYNNEX is committed to maintaining a culture that celebrates the qualities and contribution that all our co-workers make,” said David Watts, managing director, UK and Ireland, TD SYNNEX. “Our business resource groups are all about recognising that – and giving individuals every chance to express their feelings and views in a safe and open environment. Through Limitless we hope to make a really positive difference for co-workers and increase awareness and sensitivity to disability or neurodiversity right across the UK and Ireland organisation.”

Anna-Marie Constantinou, chair of the Limitless BRG panel and director, Cisco Business Unit, Europe, at TD SYNNEX, added: “At TD SYNNEX, we want to create an environment that welcomes, celebrates and nurtures difference and disability. Where everyone is valued for their individuality and strengths and can flourish by being themselves – authentically and without limits. “Limitless is about making sure that co-workers with any kind of disability or neurodiversity are given the same opportunities and choices and that their individuality is recognised in every aspect of their working life. We want all our co-workers to be treated fairly and equally and to feel that the workplace and environment is adapted to their needs, so that they can make the most of the positives that diversity brings and perform to the very best of their unique abilities.” A series of initial launch presentations and meetings are taking place currently at which TD SYNNEX co-workers are being encouraged to get involved in Limitless. These will presentations are led by members of the Limitless panel, which includes co-workers from HR, sales and business development, operations, and senior management.

David Watts managing director, UK & I TD SYNNEX





Subsequently, Limitless discussion groups will be held approximately every six to eight weeks, with co-workers from all TD SYNNEX UK and Ireland locations invited to take part.

Limitless is the fourth TD SYNNEX BRG to go live in the UK and Ireland. It follows Elevate, which is dedicated to the empowerment of women; SPECTRUM, which provides support for LGBTQ+ co-workers; and Embrace, which celebrates racial, cultural and religious differences.

Information, notices and updates on group activity will be posted on the TD SYNNEX intranet.

Brother UK partners with Planglow to support safe food labelling

Brother UK has partnered with food labelling and plant-based packaging specialist Planglow to support food safety and compliance in catering and hospitality. The new collaboration sees Brother’s range of labelling solutions become fully compatible with Planglow’s LabelLogic Live app. This enables food service users to create, amend, update and print labels with ease, as they move to enhance food safety and compliance. The subscription-based service supports individual cafés, restaurants and delis through to multi-site caterers. Customers can create and roll-out data and templates across their network from head office, without having to monitor for consistency or errors. The platform also allows bespoke food orders to be sent straight from the till to the printer, creating clear, accurate and durable labels for packaging, key for food service operators to achieve best-practice compliance following the introduction of food labelling legislation, Natasha’s Law. It requires clear signposting of any potential allergens in clear and distinct text on pre-packaged for direct sale products. “The new partnership with Planglow will help resellers provide the solutions their customers need to meet the new food safety legislation and take advantage of the efficiencies that come with technology- enabled labelling,” said Aaron Hopkinson, product manager for labelling at Brother UK.

“Planglow adds to a host of specialist partners, from software providers to expert technology resellers, which complement our comprehensive portfolio of print devices. These partnerships deliver the expertise, technology and supporting software that help print partners provide the support commercial kitchens need to label products more productively, accurately and compliantly.” The Planglow software compatibility enhances Brother’s existing line of label printers, which come fitted with wireless cloud printing capability. This allows kitchens to keep food preparation areas clear of wires and technology for safety while maximising worktop space. Brother’s collaboration with the tech provider is one of a series of partnerships recently announced to enhance its specialist labelling offering. “We’re continually working to evolve and improve our range of labelling devices as demand increases for more efficient solutions,” added Aaron. “These include two new RJ mobile printing models with industry leading specifications and our TJ range of rugged desktop devices, designed to help high volume food service operators keep up with fast-paced manufacturing environments. These offer another string to the bow of resellers that are continuing to help their customers navigate changing labelling demands.”

Aaron Hopkinson product manager Brother UK



Konica Minolta launches enhanced Partner Programme

Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd has launched its enhanced Partner Programme and Partner Portal. The enhancements are designed to recognise, differentiate and reward partners on their product and services specialisms as well as their overall commitment to selling and supporting Konica Minolta’s solutions. “With our channel partners offering a more complex set of print and IT business solutions we recognised that our Partner Programme accreditations and support need to reflect this evolution,” said Cameron Mitchell, business leader for indirect channel at Konica Minolta. “The new and enhanced Partner Programme supports all our partners but specifically recognises those that have invested in specialist areas such as ITS and Professional Print. We are also excited to announce additional support for those partners aligned exclusively to Konica Minolta. We believe that this level of commitment needs to be rewarded and nurtured to further cement our relationship and grow our market share together.” In a shifting market, where some sectors of print are seeing demand contracting and many businesses are shifting towards more agile working, many channel providers are looking to evolve their own offerings to retain their customers and to accompany them on their

journey towards greater digital transformation. The updated Partner Programme and new Partner Portal are designed to support Konica Minolta’s partners as they adapt to this evolving market. “We first launched our Partner Programme four years ago to ensure partners got the support and recognition they deserve,” added Cameron. “This is a further fine tuning of that. We want to shine a light on those that specialise in our IT, professional and office print solutions – both in terms of technology and the Konica Minolta brand – to deliver a unique partner experience which also provides additional benefits in terms of products and support to reflect this. The professional skills of our partners are vital to our channel proposition and having a more nuanced accreditation and rewards scheme is part and parcel of further building this.” “Channel is a key focus for Konica Minolta. We have designed a Partner Programme that we believe will set the benchmark moving forwards. The additional support and rewards reflect our commitment to the channel, our appreciation of professional partners who exclusively specialise with us, and the requirement to support the evolution of the channel. We are very excited to be sharing our new offering at this exciting juncture in the evolving world of channel sales.”

Cameron Mitchell business leader – indirect services Konica Minolta

Sato launches mobile label printer

SATO has launched its PW4NX 4-inch mobile label printer. The PW4NX is designed for mobility, speed, durability and minimal downtime to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) in a range of business-critical mobile labelling applications in logistics, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and food service.

greater productivity. Retailers and warehouse operators prefer to use mobile printing during peak seasons but common challenges like slow output and substandard results may mean they use stationary or desktop printers pushed around on trolleys to ensure print speed and quality. With desktop-level print quality, the PW4NX allows easy mobility for accuracy. It also prints with consistent quality and with a smaller footprint to reduce upfront cost. In terms of upkeep, consumable parts like platen rollers and print heads are replaceable for significant cost savings – about $10,000 if 100 print heads are replaced per year, according to SATO. Remote monitoring of printer usage data helps prevent downtime caused by worn-out parts and batteries needing replacement.

Warehouses are typically staffed by operators that tend to work extended

hours, inevitably resulting in mistakes. For warehousing and retail logistics, printing at the point of application is more accurate and productive and the reason why mobile labelling has grown in popularity in recent years. The PW4NX has six inches per second print speed, which reduces printing time by 32%, according to results from a SATO survey when printing ten million labels per year vs. previous SATO 4” mobile model. This lets workers move on to the next task faster for






Smart battery management also allows those managing large operations to monitor the battery health for individual printers across numerous locations, helping reduce the cost of replacement. The PW4NX has a durable body designed to survive drops of up to 2.14m (seven feet) and its IP54 rating protects it against dust and water splashes in the most demanding working environments. In the warehouse, the PW4NX also has the exceptional vibration resistance needed for mobile printers

mounted on forklifts. “I am excited to add a high- performance mobility option to our product range,” said Goro Yumiba, global operations officer at SATO

Holdings Corporation. “In addition to its best-in-class design, we will make PW4NX the centrepiece of customer-centric solutions with genuine consumables and add-on services like MDM, apps and maintenance support that reduce running costs over the lifetime of the investment.”

Epson introduces new photo printers

Epson has added three new 24-inch models to its existing 44-inch SureColor SC-P8500D large-format printer, designed for high- volume poster production and copy shops. The three new 24-inch (610mm) models - the SureColor SC-P6500E (single roll), SC- P6500D (dual roll with PostScript) and SC- P6500DE (dual roll) and the 44-inch SureColor SC-P8500DL join the 44-inch (1117mm) SureColor SC-P8500D to form the SureColor SC-Px500 Series. Based on Epson’s Micro TFP PrecisionCore technology, all products in the series use the company’s six-colour UltraChrome Pro6 pigment inks, which now include an additional grey ink to broaden the colour gamut. The SC-P8500DL includes 1.6L built-in ink packs for high print runs of large format photos and posters. They deliver exceptional print quality, and feature an extremely compact design, smart features and easy operation. All products also offer the enhanced levels of security and device management required by its target segments.

Delivering print speeds up to 18m2/ hr without loss of image quality, and with controls accessible via the front of the printers to simplify the user experience, the SC-Px500 series is designed to boost productivity. The products also feature a printhead that is protected from dust and particulates, reducing maintenance costs, while the six-colour ink set also cuts running costs by using less ink, compared with other eight-colour models. To allow documents to be printed confidentially and securely in busy copy shop and retail environments, the printers offer enhanced IT and security features, which include NFC security protection, plus encrypted PIN and password-controlled access. As ease of use is a key requirement, the SC- Px500 Series printers have been designed to be simple and intuitive to operate, through a customisable 4.3-inch touch panel positioned for easy access, while paper roll loading and unloading is also easy, thanks to an automatic drop-in mechanism. Productivity is further enhanced through the Epson Cloud Solution PORT, which enables printer status to be checked remotely from a smartphone or tablet, while printer use and performance can be monitored via a Production Monitor with real-time updates to ensure high productivity and a rapid resolution of maintenance issues. “With a compact, contemporary design, these 24-inch models are high-quality commercial printers which are perfect for photos and posters,” said Kristin Saus- Opuszynski, manager, product management, Commercial and Industrial products at Epson Europe. “Combined with the 44-inch models, and the new SC-P8500DL, the SC-Px500 Series now offers an ideal solution for anyone in the photo and poster production sector.”

Kristin Saus-Opuszynski, manager, product management, Commercial and Industrial products, Epson Europe

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Managing the fleet

As data becomes more and more valuable to businesses, Print Management Software offers a solution to efficiency, security, and cost reduction.

Printing has been an essential business practice for decades, and it still plays a crucial role in today’s workplaces. In my own time as a hack, the printer has never stopped as I see how articles look on the page, make corrections, and sift through lengthy transcriptions of my latest interview. However, a lack of control and process in print can lead to increased costs, waste, and security risks. To address these challenges, businesses are turning to print management software, which enables rules-based printing and quotas that can be easily rolled out across an organisation, enhancing control while reducing waste and costs. “Print management software can help businesses achieve greater efficiency, enhanced security, better sustainability, and streamlined printing processes,” said Fawaz Naser CEO “By providing tools to monitor and manage print jobs, control access to printers, and encourage responsible printing practices, print management software can help organisations reduce costs, improve security, and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.” “Printing is a fundamental business practice that still has a place in the workplace today,” said George Davies, Product Marketing Manager of Software and Solutions at Sharp

UK. “But a lack of control and process in this area can lead to increased costs, waste and can even be a security risk. This is where the often-overlooked solution of print management software comes in. “Print management software enables the implementation of rules-based printing and quotas which can be easily rolled out across an organisation, enhancing control whilst also reducing waste and cost. This, for example, can include default mono-duplex printing, whereby the auto settings for print jobs are mono and double-sided.” Automation With that control comes an opportunity, especially in this data-heavy age. Being able to automate tasks is a huge trend throughout the technology industry; to the point where even my job can be done by a robot apparently. This automation wrapped in a print management software solution, according to Ian Silvester, director of product management and customer care at EKM, will be able to save end users time and money and change the way reports are handled. “It’s all about efficiency, security, cost reduction, accuracy, reliability, for resellers because the more you can automate through software, in terms of your business

George Davies product marketing manager of software and

solutions Sharp UK

Print management software can help businesses achieve greater “

efficiency, enhanced security, better sustainability, and streamlined printing processes.

Fawaz Naser CEO



using a just in time method, they’ll never gonna run out of stock. With the traditional method, as soon as that light comes on, they’ll have to ring up to restock and potentially have to wait around for the consumables to turn up before they can resume. “With automated print management software, resellers can supply consumables just in time. That works for both parties because the customer will have minimal disruption, and resellers don’t send their working capital out too early.” To the Cloud The drive for data has, in many ways, been synonymous with the increase in Cloud technologies; one of the more pressing issues in the print market. Cloud adoption is driving the modernisation of print infrastructure, and cloud-based print management software is currently in high demand, as Davies says: “This demand aligns with the general shift of businesses moving their data and applications away from traditional on- premise servers to the cloud. “We are seeing heightened awareness and understanding of the benefits of shifting to cloud-based print. These include easier administration, enhanced security, better alignment with broader company cloud-first policies and, of course, reduced costs. If customers don’t have a cloud print solution now, they are certainly looking for one.” Cloud-based print management software can offer greater flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness than traditional on-premise solutions. Businesses can manage their printing activities from anywhere, using any device with an internet connection. This feature is particularly useful in today’s remote work environment, where employees need to access company resources from anywhere. Remote working is a point Naser picked up on, adding that “with the rise of remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, mobile printing has become increasingly important.” Pearce agreed, adding that resellers needed to be clear on whether they were offering a

requirements, the more profit you will make. “For instance, to get a printer metre reading for a fleet of printers we’d have to individually call hundreds of customers and ask for it. When you automate that to software, it obviously reduces the effort it takes to do that from a reseller end. From the customer perspective, when you’re looking at the end users, using print queue management software allows them to track who’s printing, what they’ve been printing, where they printed it and massively reduce wastage.” In time gone by, one of the key selling points for print management software was the control that could be imposed with its use, as Steve Peace, group head of marketing at Kyocera pointed out. “I think the biggest difference really is that in the past the key USP of this software was to stop people printing, limit the amount of pages people can print, and stop printing in colour. Ironically we’re now trying to offer a gateway to enable print. “The total cost of ownership for printing has never been cheaper, so the focus has moved on to energy saving, and power management. I think data is a big thing, if resellers are clever with the data, they can prove where their customers gain value from their products. “Moving forward, rather than stopping people from printing, the data should be used to understand how users are printing, how secure is the print? Is there a copy left on the device? As security becomes more important, businesses will be able to detect whether there are any GDPR implications, turning secure printing into a USP.” “With this automation, resellers will be saving customers an awful lot of time,” said Silvester. “But also they will be improving their customer satisfaction with these efficiencies. “If resellers set up consumable replenishment

Ian Silvester director of product management and customer care EKM Global

With this

automation, resellers will be saving customers an awful lot of time... But also they will be improving their customer satisfaction with these efficiencies.




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cloud native or a premise-based solution. “The important thing is having the flexibility to offer a cloud native product, but also understand the benefits and the pros and cons of hosting a once premise based product in the cloud environment. “Broadly speaking, I think the biggest change I’ve seen in the last a period has been the desire for our end users to have a cloud hosted version. Probably boosted by COVID, we’ve seen a real acceptance of the benefits of a cloud hosted offering, and these are SaaS-based propositions, and I think we’ve seen the print management software naturally fall into a cloud offering. “When we talk about ‘aaS’ the print industry has been doing that for a long time. The natural way for resellers to go on to sell software is as a service, and cloud is the vehicle to do that and, frankly, it’s what our customers are asking for.” Selling Software With an appetite for cloud services and a distributed workforce, software that helps businesses have sight of how these solutions are being used sounds like an easy sale. Davies said that “context is key”, with Naser adding that resellers should be open to a conversation with customers before forcing solutions on them. “Resellers should follow a consultative sales approach when selling print management software to customers,” said Naser. “This involves understanding the customer’s needs and pain points, identifying

the features and benefits of the software that address those needs, and presenting a tailored solution that meets the customer’s specific requirements.” But those requirements are ever changing. As Pearce points out, one of the key benefits of cloud technology is that it is “scalable”. That always has connotations with getting bigger, but working habits change. “By having a cloud based system where you can simply bolt devices on, or bolt users on, and take them off, rather than buying these cumbersome upfront contracts is definitely the way that I would go.” With chat of bolt ons, Silvester also said that he sees print becoming amalgamated with other consumables purchasers need, such as coffee, adding that, with the use of print management software, print can be one of the less demanding utilities in the office. “IT departments see print as a necessary evil. They want to have a printer, press a button and it to just work. “In order to do that, we can use data to save time and prevent problems before they arise. We used to do preventative maintenance on all equipment, where if we’d send somebody out to fix a machine, that engineer would also look at all the machines in that location and if some of them needed preemptive maintenance, we do that as well. “That increases the mean time between engineer visits, and then that data is reported back to the print software where they can measure the time between fixes on devices with engineers.”

Steve Pearce group head of marketing Kyocera Document Solutions UK


IT departments see print as a necessary evil. They want to have a printer, press a button and it to just work. “ ”


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The animal beneath the stripes Print in the Channel sat down with Rich Barfield, EMEA product marketing manager, ATS Division and Jack Byrne, EMEA senior channel marketing manager, to check up on Zebra Technologies and hear their plans for the year ahead.

Q: Who are Zebra Technologies? And do you only sell desktop printers? Rich Barfield (RB): At its heart Zebra is a specialist barcode technology company, with a long legacy in this industry that dates back over 50 years. In fact, the company was founded some years before the first barcode was used commercially, in 1974 on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. Zebra has a rich history of innovations and market firsts. For example, the first handheld laser scanner in 1979, the first barcode printer in 1982, the first laser-scannable 2D barcode in 1991, and the first wearable computer in 1997. It’s a long list, all of which has helped us become a market leader in thermal barcode print, labelling and scanning technology which, alongside our mobile computing portfolio, are still at the core of our business. Barcode hardware and technology is still our primary focus. Despite that, the last decade has seen significant growth and diversification with the addition of newer technologies to complement our core offerings including wearables, machine vision, even robotics.

every task and budget in three other key categories of print hardware. Starting with industrial printers. These are the 24/7 workhorses, rugged in their design and created for the high-volume demands. The ZT600 series are the premium, feature- rich models, with the ZT400 series being the sweet spot balance of capability vs. budget. In the last year, we’ve refreshed our value- tier offerings and the ZT111 entry model and the ZT231 are proving to be very popular superstars with a lot of customers. Within this category you’ll also find the 24/7/365 workhorses; our print engines. We have a superb network of over 300 print engine specialist partners across the EMEA region who depend on our ZE511 and ZE521 print engines as the beating heart of high- volume, fully automated print and apply solutions, that ensures your online purchases arrive at your front door. The next category is mobile print, which does what it says on the tin; printers you take with you. With these devices you will find USB charging, for on-the-go and in-cab power up, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, as well as Radio frequency identification (RFID), Linerless and Healthcare, and Rugged versions. Finally, there are our card printers, that print everything from ID badges to loyalty and debit cards. There are also specialty ribbons that can be used for incorporating card security features, such as colour-shifting or 3D effects. RFID and smart card encoding are also available, which proved of specific interest through the pandemic when contactless access control became critically important. Q: What solutions does Zebra provide beyond hardware? RB: Beyond the hardware we have Zebra Certified Supplies, which enhances our labelling capability for our customers. Printing

Rich Barfield EMEA product marketing manager, ATS Division Zebra Technologies

We design,

produce and rigorously pre-test our own line of thermal printing supplies to ensure consistent, optimised performance in your Zebra printer

Q: OK, so it sounds like there’s a lot more to Zebra than desktop printers. What else does Zebra have to offer in the print and labelling space? RB : Zebra offers arguably the most comprehensive portfolio. If you’ve already read our cover article, then you’ll appreciate that we can provide a printer for just about





supplies can impact everything from printhead lifespan to operational efficiency. That’s why we design, produce and rigorously pre-test our own line of thermal printing supplies to ensure consistent, optimised performance in your Zebra printer – and peace of mind for you. We have an expansive suite of supplies products that incorporate receipt papers, ribbons, tags, labels, RFID, wristbands and we have just launched a new category called Environmental Sensors, with temperature monitoring being the initial line of products. Our stocked offering of printing supplies now features over 650 SKUs, all ready to order off the shelf, with a minimum order quantity of just one box. That’s a killer USP. As proud as we are of our hardware legacy, we also recognise the benefits of enabling our partners and customers with software solutions that add value. It’s hard to believe, but Link-OS and Print DNA are celebrating 10 years since they were introduced to the Zebra portfolio. Link-OS is our one-of-a-kind printer operating system, providing a common platform for our Print DNA ecosystem of dedicated print applications to run. Applications such as PrintSecure, which empower customers to easily configure their printers to use secure connections, block unwanted access and ensure their data and infrastructure are protected. Printer Emulations, on-printer apps that allow Print DNA capable printers to use a variety of printer command languages, enabling a seamless drop-in of new, smarter Zebra printers to mixed fleets. Or Printer Profile Manager Enterprise, our full featured remote printer management solution. These applications and many others have all supported our transition towards becoming a solution provider, aligning with the direction of Zebra over the past decade. Q: How has Zebra made that transition to a solution provider? RB: Ever since our acquisition of the Motorola Solutions Enterprise business in 2014, we have continued to develop and evolve into a solutions provider. Today we are recognised as an industry leader in enterprise mobile computing, barcode scanning, specialty printing, RFID readers and RFID printing, workforce management and indoor location services. Part of that transition has been aided by an active programme of acquisitions and alliances. Since Motorola, we’ve continued to strategically enhance our capability and

offerings. For example, we expanded our rugged tablets provision with the acquisition of Xplore in 2018. Retail is one of our core verticals that we serve and the addition of Reflexis Systems in 2020 has accelerated our value to that sector, with intelligent workforce management and execution solutions. Our acquisition of Temptime and their expertise in time-temperature monitoring solutions has laid the foundations for our new Environmental Sensors division. And, of course, Fetch Robotics in 2021 and Matrox Imaging in 2022 are the drivers behind our diversification into the autonomous mobile robots (AMR) sector and Machine Vision. As much as I would like to pat ourselves on the back, we’ve not achieved this development and growth in isolation. I referenced alliances as well as acquisitions being part of the strategy, and perhaps the biggest alliance has been from our channel. Q: How important is the channel for Zebra Technologies? Jack Byrne, EMEA senior channel marketing manager (JB): Our channel is at the heart of our business. We are a channel centric company, with over 10,000 channel partners serving more than 190 countries worldwide. Zebra’s success is in partnership with many of our fantastic partners who serve our customers supplying end-to-end solutions across all our portfolio. PartnerConnect, which is seven years old this month, is recognised as an industry-leading partner program. Q: What exactly is PartnerConnect? JB: When you join PartnerConnect as a reseller, you’re able to bring your customers the industry’s widest portfolio of products dedicated to enhanced productivity, optimised operations and empowered workers. At the same time, you gain access to new resources that help you build a stronger pipeline and close more deals. You establish credibility that helps you get in the door, and you have new ways to build your team’s technical expertise, so you can support customers effectively pre- and post-sale. Zebra rewards your investment in expertise with unique programme specialisations focused on key technologies, services and vertical markets. You’ll gain access to additional benefits like bigger discounts, rebates, a customisable partner logo and more.

Jack Byrne EMEA senior channel marketing manager Zebra Technologies

When you join PartnerConnect as a reseller, you’re able to bring your customers the industry’s widest portfolio of products dedicated

to enhanced productivity, optimised operations and empowered workers.




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Q: How has Zebra business been through the last few years, with the pandemic? RB: Prior to 2020, we had significant strength and stability. Being in such a good position heading into that storm really helped us weather the problems tech providers who had the sucker punch that followed the pandemic with the chip shortages had to deal with. As well as a great culture we have a very agile organisation at Zebra, both of which were pivotal to us being able to continue supporting our channel. Pre-pandemic we were very aligned and engaged with our channel, with lots of events and face-to-face networking activities. Our agility meant we were able to switch stance, to offer more webinars remotely, virtual events and Zoom meetings, all of which were invaluable in keeping our channel informed, educated and, in some instances, even entertained. I think it worked. Our channel paid us back by delivering business through a difficult time – desktop print was certainly a highlight for us through the pandemic. A knock-on effect that we benefited from was with so many people furloughed or working from home, the reliance on the supply chain, online retail and logistics deliveries rapidly escalated. As everyone needed and wanted more “stuff” delivered to their front door, that all meant more boxes to ship and track. More boxes equal more labels, more labels equal more desktop printers and our channel was ready to oblige. Q: So what’s next for Zebra? RB: I think if I must sum up what’s next in one word, that would be maturity. The last 50 years or so has been a journey. I can just about remember the days before the barcode was a mainstay. Reaping the overtime that came with the evening and weekend stock-takes

with pen and paper. How far we have grown in such a comparatively short space of time. Yet we still see significant inefficiencies. We still see too many people using pen and paper, or redundant processes and equipment, where an investment in the right partner, the right tech, the right solution would swiftly return dividends. We’ve seen and modelled this in our own Warehouse Vision Study when our insights showed that 71% of decision-makers are accelerating the timelines of their modernisation projects, or plan to within a year. And more recently with The Modern Store by Zebra framework for retail, which aims to deliver more engaged associates, optimised inventory, and an elevated customer experience as the core outcomes. We’ve seen, lived and breathed this too within Zebra. From our own humble beginnings, leading the charge to digitise the tracking of asset and inventory, to the modern day, with our central EMEA distribution hub in Heerenveen. Across the whole site you will find examples of Zebra technology and solutions including wearable mobile computers, heads-up-display glasses, RFID printers, fixed industrial scanning all working together to deliver the most efficient process, orchestrated via the help of location and

We still see too many people using pen and paper, or redundant processes and equipment, where an investment in the right partner, the right tech, the right solution would swiftly return dividends

workforce management solutions. It’s not just the technology, or the

processes, or the data, insights and actions that are maturing. We’re finding the channel is maturing also. We see as much diversity in the complexity, capability, service and solutions offerings in our channel as we do in our own technology portfolio. Q: How can I get involved? JB: Customers’ expectation of a purchasing journey is changing, and we are seeing a trend of customers expecting to be able to purchase in different ways. As we look to develop our omnichannel experience, we are always keen to hear from different resellers and learn about different sales channels that exist. Reselling Zebra products and solutions offers you a great opportunity to be on board with our market-leading product and supplies portfolio and best-in-class services.

The Modern Store by Zebra

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