Back in 2019, Sharp foresaw a very positive potential for growth in 2020. It was particularly anticipating how its newly launched suite of office technology products would take the market by storm. However, in all this, the team at Sharp, like all other businesses out there, hadn’t anticipated COVID-19 and how it would make quick work of disrupting day-to-day business operations. To this end, it became necessary to adopt new plans and think out of the box in an effort to counter the adverse consequences of the pandemic in the business world. COVID-19 effectively put a stop to Sharp’s A3 printer sales, but there was also a silver lining in the gloomy horizon. 

The pandemic went on to usher in new and innovative work from home business opportunities. It, as well, gave rise to the proliferation of Sharp’s other product offerings. This includes its Windows Collaboration Display, home office technology like its Remote Workforce Bundles, its Synappx Smart Office solutions and even the new A4 printer. Moreover, it is now taking the necessary steps to enable its dealers to be in a good position of exploiting these non-conventional revenue generation avenues to recover and fast-track growth. In the first place, Sharp has achieved considerable success with its new suite of printers. With very encouraging sales results, it decided to expand its printer line. This capability to introduce such office technology proved to be a gamechanger, and this “unhoped-for” occurrence played a critical role in business success at the end of 2020. 

What is the importance of printers in a hybrid working environment?

The printing industry including managed print services was hard hit when it came to adapting to the new normal of doing business brought about by the pandemic and its dire repercussions. However, due to the non-practicability of A3 units, printers will definitely be in hot demand in the office technology sector. Since the onset of COVID-19, it has quickly become self-evident that the hybrid working environment is here to stay. In this state of affairs, printers will definitely be an integral component of both the in-office and home office technology environment.

To which end, Sharp is already hard at work to help its dealers to make a shift towards this opening, despite the new challenges it has brought to the fore. The last of which includes a totally different business model, with different support needs and different compensation structure. Printers are now a key part of Sharp’s post-COVID-19 business strategy. It has already unveiled several new products that have performed encouragingly on the market.

What is the importance of product diversification during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thanks to the pandemic, many businesses from a cross-section of industries have learned the hard way their usual product lines are hitting a dead end, especially with the lockdowns imposed all over the globe. With a good number of core business functions being disrupted and likely to stay that way in the foreseeable future, diversification is certainly what the doctor ordered. Taking the case study of Sharp, it didn’t take long for it to diversify its product lines to meet the increasing demand for remote working. The company now boasts of alternative product ranges which have cushioned it from the demise of its document side business. 

For instance, Sharp capitalized on the work from home trend to introduce its innovative Remote Work Technology Bundles. At the onset of COVID-19, many businesses allowed their staff to take their existing office technology equipment home. Some had desktops, other laptops and perhaps printers. Nevertheless, due to a number of factors, this trend alarmed IT managers. This terror was mostly attributable to the lack of control over the exact equipment utilized, lack of management capabilities and even the right cybersecurity solutions. Sharp’s Remote Work Technology Bundles were specifically designed to address all these shortcomings. As such, they enable IT managers to figure out what equipment is being used, how it is protected against data breaches and how it is maintained. Today, IT managers can load software and even print configured devices and more.

What can dealers do to make sure they are maximizing their opportunities for growth under the current COVID-19 pandemic conditions?

First of all, to stay adrift, dealers must adopt newer avenues of revenue generation including leveraging on the power of social media marketing. Social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn are particularly popular in the context of communication and socializing. While it might not be practical to close sales on, say TikTok, it still can prove to be an effective platform to reach out to prospects and conduct lead generation. In the trying times we live in; remote conversations can be a godsend for dealers. After all, it is all about building relationships in a remote way. Dealers ought to embrace social media since the sales process post-COVID-19, particularly for office technology, will happen in a hybrid manner. Lastly, product diversification cannot be overemphasized. Dealers who are faring relatively well in these uncertain times have expanded their product offerings. To bridge the revenue gap, these savvy dealers are pushing other technology products to their existing clientele base, some even branching to managed IT solutions like managed print services and so on. 

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