EFI looks to expand beyond enterprise customers in APAC

EFI is expanding its vision to provide solutions to not just enterprise customers alone but rather, those in the mid-market as well.

According to EFI Asia Pacific sales vice-president Rodd Harrison, the recently launched new VUTEk solutions show that the company is moving its product range vertically.

“We’re no longer doing just high-end product ranges anymore within the MIS and ERP area but moving into the mid-market range with the newer products that we’ve brought and will soon bring out,” Harrison told Sprinter from EFI Connect in Las Vegas.

“This will extend our reach into smaller and medium sized businesses. We want to touch more customers, and not just those in the enterprise level.”

EFI Asia Pacific is also refining its go to market strategy. Customers are now its key focus.

“We don’t just meet a customer and try to sell printers. We take a holistic approach with both hardware and software and try to solve our customers’ needs. This holistic approach is what sets us apart from our competitors,” Harrison said.

“Our approach has been to go back to customers that have our hardware and letting them take a look at our software products. This has enabled them to unify their workflows.

“Typically, in Australia, our customers go bespoke – they custom-build their own software solutions or they go buy something off the shelf. So, the software enhancements let us to play in both markets. We’ve got a range of products that can help them.

“For instance, they could deploy some of our software solutions for their customers so their customers are on boarding jobs into their workflow in a much more automated, seamless way.”

Harrison said with EFI refining its product (hardware and software) sets every 18 months, it puts the business ahead of the average three-year innovation pace that the industry takes.

EFI Asia Pacific senior regional sales manager Daniel Aloi said the software enhancements are an evolution of its suite.

“We were wanting to have a more integrated, streamlined and connected workflow that is seamless, intuitive and easy to use. As we continue to evolve, we’re getting the ability to deliver on that promise better than before,” Aloi said.

“With the way that we have constructed the enhancements, you can have the same functionality regardless of your business size. This brings value to all aspects of the market.

“For example, if you are a mid-market customer with the need for advanced scheduling, you can use the PrintFlow solution and plug it in. And that is the same technique that a larger printer may already be taking advantage of.”

Aloi mentioned that the software market uptake in Australia is different to the US, and having a faster refresh rate works to the benefit of customers.

“The churn of software for a business in the US is typically, on average, about five to seven years. But in Australia, that average is around 16 to 18 years. That is probably too long, but because of the complexity of implementations and the trouble that businesses need to go through to make those changes, it means that they hold on longer,” he said.

“One of the benefits of upgrades or renewal into the EFI suite is that we can bring them the functionality that gives then that longevity that they’re akin to.”

Harrison also added another change that Asia Pacific can expect – having only hand selected Tier 1 partners.

“We’re a Tier 1 player and we need to have Tier 1 distributors and Tier 1 business partners,” he said.

“It’s not about us working with customers and making them fit into the EFI culture. Their business models need to be like ours – the ability to pick the industry up. I want to work with people that sell quality and value, and provide great service and products.

“They’re the customers I want to support. So, us aligning with the right customers and those with the right business profile are those that we will consider seriously.”

According to Harrison, EFI’s aim is to bring to market solutions that work like “Swiss army knives” – one solution with multiple functionalities.

“Our customers can’t afford to have multiple machines dedicated to one product. So the industry is going to see a change in the way we’re interacting with our customers at all levels, and that’s going to be driven by people,” he said.

A customer’s perspective

Euro Poles and Flag Displays managing director Peter Wagener, who is also the managing director of All Flags Signs and Banners, has been an EFI customer for more than 20 years.

Based in Perth, the company has eight EFI machines on the floor with the oldest machine, a 20-year-old EFI printer, still in operation.

“There’s no way we’d be where we are without EFI. Other players in the industry can’t offer the same support and backup that EFI has provided; the backup has been fantastic,” he said.

Wagener spoke about some challenges that his business has been facing, which includes support to remote locations.

“We’re based in Perth so distance has been one of our biggest challenges. Supporting customers in remote locations is the hardest, and Perth just may be one of the most remote locations. We’re also the last to hear about anything,” he said.

“In the event of a product breakdown, we need to have access to the spare parts fast.”

In supporting the service of its customers, EFI Asia Pacific has made some accommodations to have local expertise close by.

“Knowledge is key and what we’ve done is to relocate some of our service people from Israel to Australia. It took us a year to get it done but we wanted to have more talent in the region that could touch customers. And that has made a very big impact so far,” Harrison said.

“What this means is that we’ve got a network of people with knowledge that will be visiting customers on a regular basis. We’ve got to raise our game and be much more communicative with our customers – existing, new and even competitive – and the only way to do that is with people.”

Wagener also said that his business expansions mean that he’s transitioning from owning a small business to one that is medium in size. He explained the importance of having machines that can keep up with the workload.

“We’ve had some big customer wins that we didn’t even plan on for 2020 and we need to manage this growth. That’s my main focus. Coping with this growth requires management and having the right tools,” he said.

“We’re growing from a small business to a medium sized business and have to change processes for this to happen. This includes people and technology.

“To be successful in this industry, you’ve got to be focused and continually innovate. Innovation is a two-way street. It’s not only led top down by the vendor, but bottom up by the customer as well.

“And EFI has allowed us to be a part of that journey. I myself provide feedback to EFI around where it can improve its offerings so we, as customers, can improve our efficiencies.”

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