After a tumultuous year for Australian retailers, the industry's national body has formed a five year managed print services partnership with Upstream Print Solutions in an effort to cut costs internally and for its members.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director, Russell Zimmerman, told Computerworld Australia that retailers are now under increasing pressure to reduce costs, identify inefficiencies and improve the sustainability of their day to day operations.
"Our members, large and small, realise that traditional approaches to printing are no longer able to keep up with the demands of business today," he said. "Add to this the fact that consumers expect retailers to incorporate green efficiencies into their operations and it's clear new approaches to printing need to be embraced."
According to Zimmerman, printing for the association and the Australia Retailers Institute were "significantly high" and needed to be addressed.
"We were just looking to cut any costs at all and I think for businesses to cut their costs on a regular basis they need to look at a whole lot of things like power, printing, telephones and anything that's a fixed business cost which is needed to run a business."
One of the drivers behind cutting costs internally, Zimmerman said, was ensuring the ARA's costs remained in control so membership fees did not increase as a result.
The association underwent an extensive selection process to find a suitable vendor, which boiled down to the one which would save the association the most money.
The ARA replaced its end-of-life print fleet, which included four main printers and six smaller printers that proved even more expensive to run, with four printers from Upstream distributed between the Melbourne and Sydney offices.
"We also use cost centres for the ARA where we build the printing costs against a particular area like marketing or executive directors' costs, IT costs and so on," he said. "This gave us further insight into our structure so we could see where our costs were and also told us how many colour copies were being made and who was making them.
"With that we were able to pinpoint those operations and make sure they were only carried out when needed."
Under the agreement, ARA members that opt to deploy Upstream will have access to free paper for the first 12 months as well as free Upstream Connect software to monitor the usage of all devices to improve print services and reduce the burden on IT staff. CIO of ARA member Baker's Delight, Joanne Stubbs, said the bakery franchise had deployed Upstream to be more efficient with its printing operations.
"The 18 per cent cost savings on print services were very welcome, while the 50 per cent increased capacity came as a bonus," Stubbs said.
Zimmerman also said that after a difficult 2011 there was some blue sky on the horizon for retailers off the back of two interest rate cuts and a revised sales forecast of $39.5 billion in the trading period six weeks prior to Christmas.
"We're looking forward to a very confident after Christmas sale period and we go into 2012 with a little more hope, although I temper that by saying the consumer confidence survey has just come out and indicates that confidence is back to where it was in about August. This is concerning and I think reflects conditions overseas in Europe and to some degree in America."
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