xpedx is the distribution arm of International Paper, and while it sells a lot of the parent company’s products, it also sells many other brands, as well. In addition, xpedx is the largest paper distributor in the world, but sells more than just paper. With its 9,000 employees, 114 locations and millions of square feet of warehouse space, the company has plenty of resources to help manage, promote and deliver its extensive product line that runs the gamut from prepress to finishing, from ink to film and even equipment cleaning supplies.
Jeff Higgins is the company’s Director of Marketing Services. He is a 35-year veteran of the paper and printing industries. He has spent his career working in sales and marketing positions and joined xpedx as a result of Champion International being purchased by International Paper. Jeff’s group has responsibility for market information and analysis, advertising, sales promotions, selling tools, and trade shows.
WTT: Before we talk about Graph Expo, fill us in on some of the latest developments at xpedx.
Jeff Higgins: xpedx is a print solution provider and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our value to our customers. For example, one of the latest ways we have done this is our e-commerce solution, which has been in the works for more than a year.
Select customers are now using the system to place an order, check order status, inventory, and prices in real-time. We have sites across the country doing multiple millions of dollars every month via xpedx.com.
WTT: That’s exciting! You mentioned some of the system’s capabilities, but how does the e-commerce system benefit customers in a new way?
Jeff Higgins: Nothing is better than face-to-face relationships with our sales reps, but e-commerce has improved the efficiency of ordering and deliveries. Plus it helps our customers see the full range of our products-- as we like to say “We cover you from the front door to the loading dock.” It also helps encourage repeat orders. Due to the capabilities of xpedx.com, printers can respond faster to customer requests speeding up the quote process through real-time information.
WTT: Anything else? Any trends that you’ve noticed recently?
Jeff Higgins: A few. The first is related to the impact that the Web is making on the marketing needs of large, international companies. Due to the web companies becoming more global in their reach, some large accounts are beginning to ask for the same paper to print on all over the world, so that their printed materials look the same no matter where they are printed.
Another trend I’ve noticed is the trend in printing towards shorter runs—10% to 20% shorter as companies try to cut back on expenses and be more efficient with their print runs.
WTT: Xpedx sells more than just paper. Have you noticed an upward trend in the demand for the newer digital press papers?
Jeff Higgins: We are still waiting to see a major uptick in the demand for these kind of papers. We are selling some, but the boom isn’t there yet. I feel that’s because the printer is realizing how difficult it is to market digital printing services. I think digital printing can be a wonderful option for customers, but the printers still have some work to do to inform their customers of the possibility of short run color or variable data printing.
WTT: Okay, now tell us about what people will be seeing in you booth at Graph Expo.
Jeff Higgins: In keeping with our capability of providing a total solution for prepress and on press, we will be showing the entire process of taking a file through the prepress process, on to press and then into finishing. We will use many of the products that we sell to help demonstrate this process.
We will have people on hand to discuss various solutions with customers because, as part of what we do every day, we have experts to help advise customers on selecting appropriate prepress and on press products. We can help them find the right fit and we can even do workflow audits for them both before and after the sale.
WTT: What’s the best way for someone who is interested in xpedx to learn more about the company at the show?
Jeff Higgins: We will have demos going on during the show, so they can learn a lot by just dropping in. If they make an appointment they can get their questions answered privately. They can make an appointment by stopping by the booth, or calling their local xpedx representative who will pass them on to the people representing xpedx at Graph Expo. We will be happy to present technology on their terms.
Thank you Jeff.