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Is It Time To Look At MPS As A Dead-End, And Start Looking At E-Commerce As A Better Option?

23 February 2017 | NORM MCCONKEY



The inertia of MPS is tough to counter and there is an entire industry dedicated to it, complete with consultants, software developers and OEMs telling dealerships that “they need to be there.” I think MPS reduces the potential value of your customers. Here’s a case against MPS and for e-commerce.


#1. Most of your customers will never be MPS candidates. It’s not your sales people, or your software that’s to blame; the problem lies in the value proposition of MPS for businesses with less than 50 employees. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees don’t usually print enough to make all that assessment and management worthwhile. Measure it yourself. What percentage of your sub 50 client base is under a MPS contract? My guess is likely in the single digits. My next guess is that about 80% of your total client base is made up of small business: the less than 50 employee organizations. How am I doing so far?


#2. MPS forces your business to become more focused on printing at a time when office printing is declining. When you focus on MPS you tend to begin offering more than just supply, service, and hardware contracts and you move the business into document management, user management, security and other “higher end” print specialties. These technologies take you further and further away from your small business customer base.


#3. MPS reduces customer interactions. Your customers need supplies every day. MPS often runs silently in the background delivering supplies and proactively servicing customers without them even calling. That is supposed to be a good thing, but those interactions are opportunities to cross sell and up sell. Interactions can often bring you into a different part of the business and enable you to introduce new products.


So, what’s the alternative to MPS? A focus on e-commerce for small businesses.

ecommerce for small business

$3,000. Write that number down. That’s the amount of money small businesses spend each year on printing, laptops, mobile technology, software, network management, break-fix service and related services. This focus is why CDW is seeing almost double-digit growth. The small business market segment is growing and spending. Office print is a significant revenue driver, but it’s not growing.


I am not for one second recommending or advocating for getting get out of print - far from it! Office print is the most important part of your business and one that will drive traffic to your website. Your investment in remote monitoring will guarantee customers visit your site to buy supplies. When they do, your sales reps can begin the process of cross-selling and up selling customers. It all works together beautifully.


This is where it gets really interesting. Sites like CDW, Staples and even Amazon are confusing for small businesses. Over 1,000 printers. Over 200 computer choices (for the Lenovo brand alone!) Your site, combined with a local sales team, can remove this confusion. 

Take a look at this site to see how it could work: OnSwitch.



ecommerce and the role of your salespeople




About the Author

Norm McConkey

Norm McConkey has been involved in the print, imaging, and software/tech business since 1993. Holding executive level positions in a number of emerging technology firms, he founded PrintFleet in 2003, and Tangent MTW in 2009. A founding member of the MPSA, an award winning author and presenter, Norm has spoken at various industry events around the world including the Lyra Imaging Symposium, Photizo confernece, ITEX Tradeshow, Regional BTA conferences, Remax Europe, and World Expo. He has been contracted to consult and build go to market and sales training programs with several OEM manufacturers such as Canon USA, and HP, and distributors such as Parts Now and Supplies Network, as well Resellers including Office Depot. Norm’s current project, MPSToolbox (, is a software platform which helps technology dealers develop and maintain e-commerce websites.


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