Ricoh Americas Exec Sees Opportunity in ‘Chaotic’ Printer/Copier Market

CRN recently interviewed a top Ricoh executive who said he sees “chaos” in the printer market and believes it’s an opportunity for Ricoh to wrest market share from its rivals. The executive appeared to be alluding to Xerox, which has been the subject of major headlines detailing the battle between activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason to scuttle a proposed Fujifijlm purchase of Xerox and the merger of Xerox with Fuji Xerox – a battle which Icahn and Deason were ultimately successful in winning (see Xerox Calls off Deal with Fujifilm, Will Install New Leadership).

Glenn Laverty, senior vice president of Ricoh Americas marketing, and CEO of Ricoh Canada, told CRN: “We’re starting to see classic chaos in the industry and we think we can take advantage of it, both through the differentiation of having both products and services, and being unified in front of the customer associated with our go to market strategy. I think the one thing that will stand the test of time is our approach to the customer experience. We saw last year when we changed our market strategy, a four-point gain in our customer loyalty index which surprised us. It was an indicator to us that we’re headed in the right direction.”

Ricoh Americas CEO Joji Tokunaga told CRN: “What I feel personally is that the product itself, is not that much different to us. Whether it’s an A3 or an A4 and it prints in color or black-and-white. You mentioned Lexmark reinventing its entire fleet. My view is, I don’t think a new product alone is going to have a strong enough pull to differentiate. So our focus is to try to have an alignment between direct sales and our dealers, and try to create a mutually agreeable strategy to drive sales through that.”

Ricoh’s Laverty said one of Ricoh Americas’ key moves was to stop the “insane” strategy of fighting for sales within itself, with Ricoh’s direct-sales team competing for small and mid-size business sales with Ricoh dealers. (See Big Changes Afoot at Ricoh, Calls for Shifting Direct-Sale Customers to Dealers and Ricoh Transfers Nearly 900 Small and Mid-Size Direct Accounts to Local Dealer).

According to Laverty, Ricoh has been turning sales leads directed at its direct-sales force to dealers, and those leads have generated sales about 38 percent of the time, “which has been a tremendous help to partners.”

Ricoh itself has not of course been without its tribulations. Last year, it cut off financial support for its Ricoh India subsidiary, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings, in the wake of a massive accounting scandal at Ricoh India. More recently, it reported a profits’ loss of ¥135.5 billion ($1.2 billion U.S.) siting a slump in its North American business.

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