During November last year, Loftware, the global leader in Enterprise Labeling and Artwork Management solutions, held its annual Convergence conference. The three-day event attracted over 2,100 labeling and supply chain professionals – the largest Convergence attendance in Loftware history – to address the concerns, learnings, and experiences of both end-users and channel partners across the globe.

Here are some of the key discussions that took place during the virtual conference and important challenges and opportunities for channel partners over the next 12 months.

Leading with software

A standout theme from Convergence 2022 was the need to consider software solutions and technologies as a means to future-proofing businesses, particularly during today’s ongoing supply chain crisis and gloomy economic outlook. 

As we look ahead to 2023, supply chain challenges will continue to cause component shortages and delays across industries. Several projects are being held up as vendors fail to deliver hardware on time, which, in turn, means that channel partners cannot invoice until the job is complete. End-user customers, facing their own installation and project deadlines, are applying increasing pressure and, in some cases, cancelling orders. Not only does this cost businesses time and money but it also directly impacts employee morale and cashflow. As a result, channel partners are being forced to use faster – but more expensive – methods of transportation for their shipments. According to one leading printer manufacturer, this disruption cost them in the region of $200 million by the end of 2022. 

Enter the cloud – with quick deployment times, lower upfront costs, easy access, and the ability to scale, cloud technology is a game changer for unlocking value. An increasing number of businesses are now moving to the cloud to realize these benefits. Interestingly, Loftware’s 2022 Top Trends report revealed the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in prompting many companies to adopt the cloud by highlighting the need for greater agility and the ability to seamlessly work across many different facilities and third parties, all while maintaining consistency and efficiency. The labeling function is no different, with many stakeholders now recognizing the benefits of a cloud-based solution, including our channel partner community.

The business-boosting benefits of the cloud

The motivation for the surge in interest for cloud labeling among our channel partners is five-fold, and revolves around the impressive benefits on offer for their customers:

  1. It enables users to centrally store and access labels from anywhere, ensuring consistency and improving agility.
  1. The cloud guarantees accuracy and prevents mislabeling by integrating with a single source of truth and product data.
  1. It allows users to scale printing across business areas and geographic locations.
  1. The cloud offers financial predictability – eliminating the need for companies to make extensive upfront investments.
  1. It has a smaller environmental footprint due to no big servers needing to be maintained onsite.

Companies of all sizes will see an improvement across their operations by adopting a cloud-first labeling strategy. When looking to better cooperate with multiple sites or facilitate remote collaboration, businesses can benefit from a centralized, cloud-based modern labeling solution, which allows users from any geography to instantly access accurate, compliant, and up-to-date labeling content without needing to design new templates.

One example of such a solution, Loftware NiceLabel Cloud, enables partners to modernize their customer’s legacy labeling systems, deliver the fastest ROI, and support the widest range of print technologies. Companies with proven results after implementing our NiceLabel solution include B. Braun, who reduced label approval time by 20-30%; RedBud Roots who reduced its label printing time from one week to 90 minutes, and Co-op Food, who replaced 10 interfaces to different printing solutions with one system.

Channel partners have a unique role to play

In light of the benefits brought by cloud adoption, channel partners have a valuable opportunity to help their customers migrate to a modern and stable labeling platform, providing business transformation and helping these companies to become more streamlined and efficient in the process.

Partners that have already embraced a cloud-first approach report positive results, particularly regarding the ease and speed with which the cloud can be deployed. These partners’ willingness to educate customers has been rewarded with a recurring revenue stream that increases with each year.

Additionally, when it comes to the cloud, asking the right questions is where channel partners can make a real difference. There is a unique opportunity to get under the skin of customers and better understand where their current label process is leaving them exposed to risks and inefficiencies. Although many perceive label design and printing to be the problem, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The true process improvement comes from examining the entire label lifecycle from creation to printing and maintenance. Questioning their current process of label design, template storage and access, and error mitigation will reveal which cloud benefit most appeals to the customer – enabling a more targeted approach that addresses all concerns across the spectrum.

Another recommendation for channel partners is to make a customer’s experience as seamless as possible by remotely setting up their entire cloud labeling solution, from activating the platform to designing their label templates and configuring, shipping, and monitoring their printers. By doing this, channel partners not only discuss but also demonstrate the ease of deploying a cloud-based labeling solution. This proactive engagement with users will also generate additional business opportunities for further configurations, supplies, and hardware going forward, allowing for increased revenue generation.

The underlying message

In today’s climate of supply chain disruption and economic upheaval, there is a clear opportunity for channel partners to lead with the cloud. By helping their customers to drive their labeling into the future, partners can create a recurring revenue stream and grow their customer base – thus setting themselves up for healthy and prolonged success.

Author: Lee Patty, Loftware VP Partner Sales, Americas