Exploiting niche markets

The story of SignIQ is a classic example of the "find a niche market and exploit it" genre. In the early 80s, Ben Hoffman saw an opening for branded sign and tag writing software in the retail sector.

Taking a punt on his idea, he founded a company called Fundi and set about developing the concept into a marketable software package.

Eighteen years later, Fundi formalised a strategic alliance with distribution partners Emmerge Technologies and SignIQ was born.

The newly formed company has already announced some notable successes, having recently signed deals with retail giants Harvey Norman Electrical Australia/New Zealand, and DFS Galleria.

According to Garry Campbell, SignIQ's director of business development, the company already worked with a network or resellers throughout Australia, and they were now working on expanding their market off shore.

"Currently over 850 retail organisations throughout Australia are using SignIQTM to improve their visual merchandising standards," Campbell said. "We are also getting a lot of interest from the US."

SignIQ's software offering shares the company name and is targeted at the retail industry. According to Melanie Smith, SignIQ's marketing coordinator, it is an easy-to-use application which enables retailers to create and print their own in-store merchandising material.

"If you can find your way around a PC, you can use the application," Smith said.

Smith also confirmed that SignIQ was still in search of Australian and overseas resellers with retail contacts. "We are looking at forming strategic partnerships with channel companies because it is the best way for us to commercialise our product," Smith said.

Despite the reported post-GST slump in the retail sector due to a cutback in consumer spending, Smith believes SignIQ will prove popular. "SignIQ is the sort of thing retailers will be looking for because it cuts back on a lot of their costs, and they can do a lot of their own printing in-house which saves them money," she said.

Smith also signalled that strategic partners with other vendors were also in the offing, providing attractive bundling ideas for its channel partners. "Essentially it is a shrink wrap offering," she said. "However, resellers with particular skills in the print and design area can become involved in the whole template design process as a value add."

According to the company, SignIQ can interface with most POS or inventory systems via the software's Import/Export utility, further saving time and automating the input of data and price changes for promotional signs and labels.

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