Ricoh Strengthens Customer Support with Vpress Partnership

The year 2020 must not just be characterised as a time of challenge and hardship, it should also be recognised as a time when the UK business community innovated, adapted and struck out in pursuit of growth in response to those challenges.

Print technology giant Ricoh and leading Web to Print systems developer Vpress have not only understood this trend, they have formed a new partnership to ensure that print businesses have the tools they need to improve their adaptability and accelerate innovation.

“It is fundamental to the long-term growth of the UK print industry that technology developers in hardware and software come together to build partnerships that deliver tools and resources that enable the growth ambitions of its businesses and support them in adapting to an unpredictable market place, “ explains Vpress Sales Director, Kelvin Bell, who adds: “Ricoh can now provide their customers an online Web to Print and brand management platform that delivers real value-add to that relationship.”

The impetus for the partnership came out of grass-roots feedback from Ricoh’s customer base that required a cost-effective solution that would allow them to enter the eCommerce market quickly and effectively. For Ricoh it forms part of their ongoing mission to take a holistic approach to their client’s requirements –– seeking to assist them with short-term revenue generation support and long-term business development.

“The genesis for our partnership is that we identified the need in our overall business support offering for specific Web to Print system that would enable our customers to move from analogue to cloud-based design, specification and order systems for their clients,” explains Simon Isaacs, National Sales Director, Ricoh.

Simon continues: “Several of our biggest customers work with Vpress, and so we naturally wanted to investigate their offering. We are very pleased to have built this partnership from this starting point and the future is very bright in terms of its mutual value and the additional business support we can provide to our customers. We believe in personal relationships being the foundation for success, and Vpress are a great team that also embrace this philosophy. They are also passionate, understand their purpose and truly believing in what they do.”

 A Successful Formula

Kelvin echoes Simon’s sentiments and expands further: “We are an open integrator as a company, so the other pivotal requirement for this partnership was to help Ricoh customers use Vpress technology to provide a service to their own clientele. They are not just clever print specification and ordering tools, they are full blown brand management systems that organisations such as Councils and agencies can roll-out to support their own customer base or wider organisational needs.”

Vpress technology is also important for businesses that want to truly automate their ordering system and ensure payment at the point of purchase, as it integrates with systems such as Sales Salesforce, SAP/Ariba, Coupa and Oracle.

Kelvin goes on to explain the wider importance of the new Vpress and Ricoh relationship: “We will help Ricoh’s customers, the printer, automate and streamline their customer’s experience into their print shop. This ultimately means that, instead of a traditional set-up where Ricoh is a vendor and the printer is their customer, they really do become partners –– pursuing a common goals of business growth.”

“In addition to assisting these companies with capturing and streamlining more work upstream, we also have done very significant development work with integrating our platforms into Ricoh’s scalable MIS system; Avanti Slingshot.

“This also ultimately helps removes cost from their client’s businesses downstream. A good example of this is the manual processing of orders out to trade print houses. The time and physical touchpoints needed to carry this our carries with it inefficiencies. Vpress Web to Print technology can streamline and automate this process, so that the team can focus on generating value and being more productive.”

The ultimate benefits spelt out by Ricoh is that the use of Vpress technology, tied into its Avanti Slingshot system, results in optimised Workflows, reduced costs and errors and improved turnaround time. Additionally, it provides the opportunity for print providers to generate new revenue streams through enhanced services that can be processed via the web and tracked and managed throughout the entire workflow –– all without the need for human intervention.

The other key advantage to the new relationship is that Vpress Coreprint will integrate with Ricoh Production Workflow tools –– which automate everything from colour management to imposition.  Over and above that, the Vpress platform can handle the most complex levels of workflow integration, but it can also work to simply push orders from online to a hot folder structure feeding just one press.

Jeremy Hall, Senior Solutions Architect at Ricoh UK provides his insight into why Ricoh decided to work with Vpress: “I have known and worked with the team at Vpress for many years. A key element to building a technology partnership is having an open, flexible and consultative approach. Vpress is very strong in this area.

“I am so impressed by the opportunities it has already opened for both of us, and I spend so much of my day now advising customers how to make the transition into Web to Print and it is very rewarding seeing them thrive as a result. Key to this is the ease-of-use of Vpress, as that takes down a lot of barriers to adoption.”

The Perfect Fit

The last year has seen the acceleration of an existing trend, where SME printers that mainly service consumer markets are looking to divest themselves of some in-house print production capacity and focus on adding value to their customers’ businesses through design work, as well as creative and technical consultancy. In effect, they are becoming more print management agency than a print production factory.

This segment of businesses are also increasingly pushing commoditised work such as business cards, flyers and A4 folded brochures to trade printers, they need a way to streamline this process. And at the same time, they need to give their customers the opportunity to order and specify their own product lines quickly and efficiently.

This is where a partnership like that of Ricoh and Vpress is so powerful, as these SME print businesses can maximise the usage and potential of their in-house print production technology, while still making a profit from work done by a trade supplier.

Simon provides further context for what has motivated the partnership: “Covid-19 has caused a huge amount of disruption and caused a lot of business damage. Trying to take some positives from this time though, it has given a lot of business owners and managers space to really look at their business in the round, assess how they need to diversify and change to remain relevant and fulfil their full customer requests.

“Web to Print software married to state-of-the-art Workflows and press technology –– be it printing direct to everything from paper to fabric –– is fundamental to powering this change.

“It means that they can focus on the pieces of their business that provide a competitive advantage and add value to their customer’s business, while we take care of these utilities that power that advantage.”

Simon emphasises: “When you begin your journey into the world of eCommerce it’s very easy in the beginning to use some basic software and get it hand cranked. But very quickly, you begin to compromise your efficiency and the potential of your growth. Vpress Web to Print platform can be used as a very simple entry-level platform, but it can scale with you as you grow and increase your experience and expertise. It can provide the answers to each stage of your growth, whether that is just processing orders from your web portal to your press or handling your entire payment system.”

Kelvin adds: “Another very important aspect of our partnership with Ricoh is that our technology collaboration and information sharing ultimately means that the performance and fit of our platforms are enhanced. Ultimately the customer is the greatest winner in this regard, as combining our knowledge makes for a more effective product.”

He concludes: “At the heart of a Vpress is a consultative approach to technology development and integration with our customers.  It’s not just the purchase of a piece of software. We are now taking that approach into the Ricoh environment and making our respective offerings more compelling. More than that, it is a real joy for our teams working together and we look forward to an expansion of our partnership.”

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