November 7, 2013
Ricoh has recognised the potential of Africa’s emerging market and is planning to expand business operations in the area, reports ITWeb, with the OEM currently operating from one base in South Africa but looking to focus on other African countries such as Angola.
Jacques van Wyk, Executive General Manager of Indirect Channel Operations at Ricoh SA, highlighted the significance of the company’s recently signed two-year distribution agreement with Rectron, a consumer electronics distributor, for its consumer, SOHO and small business printers, MFPs, consumables and solutions; commenting: “This signals growth for our South African IT distribution channel and a broadening of Rectron South Africa’s printer portfolio. Ricoh SA will extend the channel business into other African countries, using South Africa as the base of operations.”
To prepare for its African expansion, Wyk explained, Ricoh has considered a number of factors, such as “establishing operating companies in African regions to expand the brand’s presence on the continent, and tapping into our print and production, office automation equipment, cloud-based solutions capabilities and other services”.
The study of printer market trends in order to gauge where the market is heading has also been undertaken by Ricoh, with Richard Allison, who is responsible for the OEM’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions, explaining: “Our research indicates that, unlike Europe, pricier colour printing costs are driving Africa to remain a predominantly monochromatic (black and white) printing market, with colour cartridge refilling very low in comparison to countries like Russia and the Ukraine in Eastern Europe.”
Allison added that the market’s biggest growth point is its steadily growing page volume, which is in direct contrast to the declining page volumes seen in Europe. Device intake is also “growing significantly” in the African market, “meaning that functionality has converged and people can print from any device”; with Allison noting that the market is “not copy quality conscious”.
Challenges the region has presented to Ricoh in the past will reportedly be improved upon by the OEM, for example by improving the customer experience by simplifying packaging and designing easier to read user manuals. Allison added that “logistics is another aspect where we are exploring delivering directly to countries we operate in and will involve our distribution partners to streamline costs and achieve a quicker delivery time.”
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