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Office Power then and now: what’s changed?

Change is the only real constant in our lives, and the Covid pandemic has brought about seminal disruption to our industry, businesses and lives. Now that things are starting to return to what’s being called ‘the new normal’, we’ve taken the opportunity to step back and look at how we’ve evolved over the years to facilitate dealer growth, and why the Office Power partnership is now more relevant than ever for dealers looking towards a successful future.

WE’VE USED DEALER PARTNER FEEDBACK TO IMPROVE VITAL AREAS

As a dealer ourselves, we know there are areas of the business where we need to be agile to retain loyal customers, bring in new ones and increase growth, and being able to meet the ever-changing customer needs. Last year we developed an award-winning multi-tiered technological system which enables dealer partners to buy from any supplier they like, and manage specials orders with more visibility, control and range. Nick Bugden of Stylus Stationers, a dealer partner since 2015, explains: “This area of the dealer portal has improved beyond recognition, and it enables dealers to have complete control of the specials sourcing process.”

Dealers now have more control over their customer pricing too, using the dynamic pricing tools. These allow them to effortlessly set up multi-layered pricing, automate price adjustments and increase and benchmark their target margins. Nick further explains: “Dynamic pricing is a very powerful tool that allows me to easily set margins for categories or brands of products, plus it allows me to drill down to the lowest level to set margins on specific types of product.”

Last year, we also launched the Partner Success team, providing our dealer partners with dedicated Account Managers. They provide comprehensive support for dealers day-to-day and are their first point of contact for a wide range of requests including marketing support, specific reporting, knowledge and training on a personal basis.

We provide sales and marketing tools to accelerate individual growth strategies

A segmented, targeted and well positioned sales and marketing strategy is becoming increasingly important for dealers navigating the new world. Our dealer partners now choose from a vast selection of filters and alert functionalities to configure CRM system in-line with their business Key Performance Indicators. CRM marketing emails and banners are then created for dealers to use to help achieve those, delivering the right message to the right customers at the right time. Dealers can segment banners down to individual customers and segments on their websites too, meaning they can easily target customers with specific and personalised messaging and offers.

Dealers can better understand customer information too, by accessing a number of reports within their Dealer Portal, the benefits of which Nick highlights: “The availability of high-quality information has always been at the heart of Office Power and the Funnel Report provides quick and easy access to vital customer information.” Covid has highlighted the importance of aligning with customer values, and Office Power dealer partners are supported in doing this.

Dealer websites are better positioned to compete with online giants and cater to the post-Covid customer

A branded website with user-centric functionality is vital for the new world. We’ve introduced new search technology which makes it quicker and easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, and dealer websites are already equipped with functionality which is perfect for flexible working. This includes the ability to set up cost centres and add multiple delivery addresses. Dealers can now also easily create custom pages for specific products and services they provide. With the flexible customer base Covid has brought about, these tools are essential for enabling dealers to rise to the challenge of servicing them effectively.

Covid has also reminded us of the importance of straightforward and open communication. The online Query Management System is a valuable portal for dealers, customers, suppliers and staff to raise, document, progress and control queries through the system in one easy-to-access place. Everyone is on the same level and has full visibility of any issues. As Nick from Stylus states “it makes for more efficient use of time and is a huge improvement over haphazard phone calls and emails.”

The Office Power Dealer Community continues to expand, and becomes more accessible

In 2018, we launched the Office Power Dealer Community online as a way for dealers to easily access training, resources, support and network with eachother.  At the beginning of the crisis, we opened a modified version of our dealer community and learning platform for all dealers to join free. Now, dealers from all parts of the country can communicate, share ideas and information and access valuable webinars, resources and insights from industry leaders.

As part of our Covid support strategy, we opened up a PPE supplier section to help dealers source and share accredited PPE suppliers at the height of the pandemic, and hosted webinars and shared resources too. Dealer partners also benefit from weekly update calls where they can raise updates, queries and any concerns with the senior team, and access any training materials they need to enable them to make the most out of the Office Power technology.

The importance of partnership and understanding our dealer partners on a personal level has always been woven into the fabric of Office Power, but Covid has reminded us of the importance of supporting each other more than ever before. Dealer partner Ken Arkell from Jubilee Office Supplies explains, “It is refreshing to know that we are part of a community, working together towards a better future.”

We’re equipped and flexible enough to handle almost any change

Being able to adapt and change quickly is what enabled us to continue to support dealers effectively in even the most turbulent weeks of the crisis. With the sad loss of Spicers, we were able to move all of our dealer partners’ businesses over to VOW in just a few days and adapt their delivery to drop ship to continue to service customers. Nick from Stylus exclaims “the way that the switch to Vow was handled by the Office Power team was exemplary and with the least possible disruption to business. The amount of work carried out behind the scenes must have been extraordinary.”

We’re more focused on the vision for the future than ever

At the end of 2019, we were asking dealers what their vision was for 2020, but no one could have foreseen how this year would pan out. Covid has unquestionably caused major disruption to our industry – and our lives – but together we’re more focused on the future than ever. The size of Office Power is growing rapidly, and the number of dealer partners is increasing at pace. These numbers are made up of dealers’ need to increase operational efficiency, incorporate the best technology and manage overheads against very volatile revenue. With our support, our dealer partners have been able to embrace the changes that Covid has brought to our industry, and we are continuing to develop our technology, strengthen our community and help our dealer partners provide the best service, stay profitable and succeed in the new world.

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