Retailer of the Month: Cartridge People

After teaming up with Epson, Cartridge People is looking to offer more OEM products. We chat to spokesperson Andy Cartman, joint MD of distribution and storage services firm H2eCommerce, about the etailer…

Tell us how the business began…
It was established in 2001 and the founders identified a gap in the market, having recognised a need for cheaper alternatives to OEM inks.

What products and services does Cartridge People offer?
Cartridge People is the largest retailer by unit volume of printer consumables in the UK. It also sells printers, stationery, PC accessories and has introduced a range of LED light bulbs.

Tell us a bit about the firm’s deal with Epson…
Epson is looking to grow its sales online and could take advantage of the growth of e-commerce, because it has seen sales through the traditional retail outlets falling. Epson is looking to take advantage and maximise digital marketing techniques that the online retailers have in their armoury. 

For example, Cartridge People knows every single person who buys from them. They know what printer they have got and so they are able to actually personalise offers to individual customers. 

There’s an appetite to move into working with an online retailer from Epson’s point of view – they were looking to grow their online sales and Cartridge People had the digital marketing expertise to help them do that. 

How will the Epson shop benefit the business?
It has given Cartridge People the opportunity to move into growing OEM sales. The market is quite volatile and whilst some people are looking for low price alternatives, there is another group of people who will only ever buy OEM products, so you have got to have a broad spectrum of products to maximise your sales. 

What are your top-selling products?
Top selling products in terms of ink cartridges would be the HP364 and HP301. But Epson is the retailer’s first launch into selling printers in a large way, and they have seen a good start to printer sales. 

Cartridge People was predominantly only a consumable-based business, but working with Epson has helped them get their message across to customers. 

According to Context, printer hardware in the UK has declined by 11 per cent. Have you noticed this? Interestingly enough, what Cartridge People has seen, having just moved into the printer market, is a good growth. I think we’re seeing a slight switch to different types of printers, with things like mobile printers.

What are your thoughts on 3D printing? Do you think it will eventually become more mainstream?
My personal opinion is that, as an individual, I can’t really see the practical application. And so I don’t think you’re going to see them in everybody’s homes. Where I think you will see them is in every single classroom in the UK, because of all the different subjects you can apply 3D printing to.

I see it as a fantastic growth industry but not necessarily for domestic use.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the print industry?
I think mobile printing will be the next big thing in the industry. People want to be able to print on the move.

How has etail benefited you? Do you have any plans to open physical stores?
There’s greater profitability in etail because you haven’t got the physical stores, which are a drain on resources in terms of rent, rates and staffing. This means the website is your shop window, so providing you’re giving good service, have good prices and good quality products – you’re going to benefit. 

What does the future hold for the company?
Cartridge People is looking to expand and work with more OEM brands, having seen the success of the collaboration with Epson. But the big thing is that the retailer believes over the next year or two, as the austerity cuts continue to hit, it will look to work with schools, local councils and authorities to help them save money.

The retailer believes that it can work with them and help reduce their print costs. If that then gives them money for other resources, then everybody is a winner. 

Year established: 2001
Number of staff: 50
Address: Ingouville House, Ingouville Place, St. Helier, Jersey, JE2 4DE
Telephone: 020 3659 2720

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