Did you know the number of people working at home reached an all time high of 4.2 million in 2014? According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this is about 13.9% of the population with approximately 74% of these home workers classified as managers, professionals or skilled trades.
Many of these home office workers form part of what’s known as the SOHO (small or home office) market, one that has seen year on year growth thanks in no small way to technology and the internet.
This market is one that many resellers are likely to embrace because it shows no signs of slowing down, with end users’ requirements covering not just traditional office products, but technology, EOS and furniture as well.
Here are 6 ways to get to grips with the SOHO market:
1. Understand the mindset
Think about the mindset of an individual selecting products and services for more personal or home office use. He or she is likely to need smaller pack sizes, look more closely at the aesthetics of a product and could well be interested in space saving, all in one, time saving solutions whether that’s a multi-functional device (MFD) or storage.
SOHO buyers want to buy quickly and easily and are usually looking for offers that help them concentrate on their core role and won’t take up too much of their time.
Brand names are strong, with the appeal of familiar office product names probably accounting for some of the 2013/14 sales growth among brands such as Newell, Uniball and Pukka.
2. Establish a distinct offering
If you want your office supplies business to be recognised by SOHO workers you need to establish a clear offering for this market. This could include ensuring your web presence includes SOHO-friendly products and marketing advice and ideas that specifically support small business owners.
3. Market directly
In this sector the employee, decision maker and company owner can be one and the same person, so marketing campaigns that include social media, direct mail and email targeted at these individuals is often effective.
4. OP and beyond
With areas from assorted writing packs, iPad books and Bright Boards to physical storage, strong polythene envelopes and device cleaning all growing in popularity among the SOHO audience, it’s always important to think beyond traditional OP to the additional opportunities in furniture, technology and facilities supplies.
In technology terms, compact, portable all-in-one printers are highly relevant. The end user is likely to want fast, high quality print-outs and to be able to print wirelessly from a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Accessories that may appeal include cables and power options to back up mobile devices. From a security perspective, encrypted flash and USB drives will protect files and documents. Privacy filters, particularly for mobile devices, are useful for preventing other people from viewing their screens when end users are on the move and in public places.
Messenger bags, backpacks and laptop cases can include universal chargers for mobile devices, which make mobile and home office workers’ lives easier.
5. Strong service
With competition online and from high street names, you will compete effectively by offering fantastic customer service and next day delivery. Make it as easy as possible for customers to connect with you through every channel, whether that’s phone, email, social media or your website. Consumers have become accustomed to fast, responsive customer service and being able to transact as and when suits them.
6. Maximise local connections
As a reseller, you have the advantage, over online and national names, of a local connection to customers in your area, which you can maximise through social media, by marketing locally and building your business’ profile in the community.
For more details on the support that VOW can offer resellers in the SOHO market please visit www.voweurope.com