The office imaging industry has evolved tremendously over the past few years. Some of the biggest obstacles that businesses faced two years ago are still prevalent today, though the industry is now maneuvering a set of different challenges as a result of ongoing global supply chain disruptions spurred by the pandemic. The circumstances have made it extremely difficult for many businesses to thrive.
For the printing industry in general, dealers have been tasked with exploring ways to offset a decline in print volume as well as uncover new hardware placement opportunities. The businesses that have been successful are those that have not only thought ahead on how to maintain consistent revenue streams but also how to fortify their business for any future disruptions that might occur. These businesses have placed more emphasis on evaluating and analyzing practices to overcome current challenges and anticipate future challenges.
While the office imaging industry is still adjusting to the new normal, the return to the office and hybrid work model has helped to restore some portion of lost page volume and created more opportunities for hardware placements. While these trends help bring back some sense of normalcy and profit predictability for print technology dealers, the dealers with an eye on the future are looking for ways to be proactive in finding additional avenues for growth and profitability.
Offering reliable, low-maintenance print solutions
Through the customer’s lens, a dealer that can provide a broad portfolio of solutions is significantly more valuable to customers as they plan for the future. When it comes to print solutions, specifically, being able to provide a range from entry-level A4 devices to light-production-level A3 devices positions a dealer for success across the spectrum of monthly page requirements.
It is important to end users that their printers and copiers are reliable and able to help boost productivity. The value for end users is not necessarily centered solely on cost, but also on a better overall experience in dealing with their copy and print devices. End users typically stick with a particular dealer because of the dealer’s customer service, ability to provide a fair price for reliable equipment, and whether or not a dealer will be able to service a device or fleet when maintenance is needed. So, it’s important that dealers can rely on the equipment they place and be able to provide service in order to give customers the best experience and value.
Dealers must choose to provide printing solutions that are less complex or have fewer moving parts. Leveraging printing technologies that are heat-free can be beneficial for the longevity of parts. They require minimal service or maintenance, which can result in better uptime and reliability for the end user. By placing printers that have very low maintenance and low intervention requirements, dealers can avoid having to dispatch a technician as frequently so there is greater uptime, low labor expense and ultimately better profitability, not to mention the improved end-user experience by not having equipment down frequently for service. It is not about lowering service revenue or reducing headcount, but rather it is about being efficient and smart with the resources dealers have.
Creating new business opportunities
When it comes to dealers providing a range of solutions, the solutions do not have to be limited to printing technology. Today’s offices comprise many technologies – projectors in conference rooms for meetings, dedicated document scanners for high-volume batch scanning, on-demand label printers for packaging or shipping products, wide format and professional imaging solutions for proofing or graphic design, CAD printers for marking up blueprints, and much more.
The first step to expanding business revenue opportunities with an end user is to understand what they do in their business, including its operations, processes and challenges. For example, if a customer’s business is paper-intensive, it very well might benefit from a document management solution.
Many businesses are also looking to technology to help reduce their carbon footprint – specifically those solutions that help reduce waste, energy consumption and paper waste. They are looking to bring on office technologies that not only deliver environmental benefits but are also economically viable and reliable while increasing productivity and efficiency. Dealers that propose solutions, such as MFPs that offer the lowest power consumption in their class, printers that are cartridge-free or MFPs that use replaceable ink pack systems or extra high-yield consumables, can help customers achieve sustainability goals.
From the dealer perspective, having the ability to provide complementary, reliable, business technology products, such as document scanners that are designed to integrate into a company’s existing workflow or a small workgroup A4 multifunction printer for remote, small office environments, can provide dealers the opportunity to capture more business with existing clients.
Finding a one-stop-shop partner
Finding the right manufacturer partner to help dealers create and capture additional business opportunities is the key to driving success and having the support needed to do so. The first step for dealers should be to evaluate the partnerships they currently have with OEMs and determine whether or not they provide quality solutions and support. Do they offer a reliable, futureproof suite of office solutions? Are they investing in future technology, and do they have the ability to scale? Do they have a proven track record of support? Do they offer training programs and marketing support? With the right partner, fortunately, the transition and onboarding of new technologies and solutions is much smoother than taking it on alone.
The office imaging industry is resilient, and it will continue to evolve. To be poised for success, dealers must continue to adapt. The dealers who are diversifying are the ones who are seeing success. They are building strong relationships with their customers by understanding their business successes and offering complementary technologies where workflows can be improved. We have seen that flexibility is the key to maneuvering obstacles spurred by the pandemic. The ability to think outside of the box has been crucial for businesses to thrive amid ongoing global disruptions and as the market continues to evolve.
Joseph Contreras is Commercial Marketing Executive, Office Solutions, for Epson America Inc. He oversees portfolio management, strategic partnerships, software integration and support, and sales and marketing programs for Enterprise inkjet printing solutions.