For the Australian liquor buying cooperative Independent Liquor Group, solving its printing requirements also requires the cooperation of its 12,000 customers.
ILG wholesales alcohol to independent liquor stores, hotels, restaurants and large clubs in NSW and Queensland, and acts as a conduit for promotions from the liquor companies. Many of its customers work together in groups, to compete more effectively against the larger chains under brands such as Little Bottler and Porters.
According to its general manager of information technology, Roger Miller, ILG is always keen to pass along promotional opportunities from the many companies that it buys from. But he says getting promotional material including posters and fliers out to his customers has been challenging. “There are about 170 ‘Little Bottlers’ out there alone,” Miller says. “What we used to do was go to a (external) printer, with quite a bit of lead time, who would print out posters of various sizes and configurations and send them out to each of the stores.
“But when they got there they threw away two thirds of them because the format didn’t apply for that product in their store. And there was very little flexibility for changing things.” So ILG entered an integrated MPS arrangement with Fuji Xerox, initially for 80 of its Little Bottler stores, that saw it deploy Fuji Xerox’ DocuPrint C3210DX colour laser printers. This immediately delivered a 20 percent cost reduction per printed page. ILG has also partnered with retail promotion specialist SignIQ so that each store can now use its device to design and print the specific marketing material that they want.
“None of them have an IT department, and are quite small stores, so it has been a bit of a learning curve for them,” says Miller says. “What we send them is something akin to a spreadsheet, and the SignIQ software customises it to the particular requirements of the store, and then they print it out and all of the background and graphics are generated locally in their own PC.”
Store owners can also now create their own customised signs for their own promotions, or even for other products that they sell, such as cheese. “It gives them more of an opportunity to concentrate on marketing in their own particular store to their own particular clientele,” Miller says. “A lot of these guys are not graphic designers. Its another service that we can offer our customers to make it a little easier for them to compete with the chains.”
Miller says another benefit is that ILG does not need to send complete artwork images electronically. “It minimises the transmission speeds that are required,” he says. “Perhaps in ten years transmission speeds won’t be a problem, but right now it still is a factor when you are sending graphics around.”