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A big step for business inkjets

Epson has launched a basic managed print service (MPS) for its business inkjet devices, wrapping hardware, consumables and servicing costs into an all-inclusive monthly payment.

Business inkjets, offering high speed, low cost, energy-efficient printing, have been making significant inroads into the office printing space. Already, 25% of business printer installations are business inkjet. With the launch of its new Print 365 managed print service, Epson is making them even more attractive for small and mediumsized businesses, as well as resellers that previously might not have had the expertise to deliver MPS. James Goulding finds out more from Daniel Wogan, Epson Europe’s Product

Business inkjets, offering high speed, low cost, energy-efficient printing, have been making significant inroads into the office printing space.
Business inkjets, offering high speed, low cost, energy-efficient printing, have been making significant inroads into the office printing space.

Manager for Market Development.

PITR: What is Print 365?

Daniel Wogan: It’s like a mobile phone contract wrapped around a printer, giving the end customer a very easy, manageable print fleet (or single machine) with one single monthly payment. We see it as an ideal proposition for SMBs or any organisation that could be considered to be a small business, like a GP practice, a school or potentially even a home office, as a way of supporting a managed print service for a dispersed workforce.

It wraps everything into a single monthly payment: hardware, consumables, service, delivery – all are covered by that single monthly payment. There’s no capital cost, no upfront payment – just an operational cost. The reseller doesn’t have to buy anything. In effect, a facilitator purchases products from distribution on behalf of the reseller and leases them to the end customer. The reseller doesn’t have to invest anything in the hardware. We recognise the whole value of the margin on the consumables and the hardware across the 36 months of the contract and pay that to the reseller up-front.

PITR: What products can be acquired under the Print 365 scheme?

Wogan: It applies to all Epson Workforce Pro business inkjet products, starting with the Workforce 5, which incorporates mono and colour, single function and multifunction desktop products, including a RIPS variant [with extra-large ink tanks that last for the lifetime of the machine]; then the Workforce 6, our heavier duty, A4 product, available in desktop or freestanding versions configured with multiple trays and a cabinet; up to the Workforce 8, which is our A3 product with single function and MFP, desktop and floor-standing versions, and a RIPS variant.

PITR: When would you recommend a RIPS variant?

Wogan: When the customer has heavier print volumes. On the higher end A3 packages, we offer an ‘an all you can eat’ bundle, subject to a Fair Use policy to make sure everything is kept within the parameters of what the engine is capable of. For £155 per month, this lets you print up to 300,000 pages over the lifetime of the device. Broken down across a 36 month contract, this works out at 8,300 pages a month, which can be split any way between colour and mono, A4 and A3.

PITR: How can customers work out which package they should be on?

Wogan: There are a couple of different ways. There’s a very simple iframe on Epson’s website, also available for resellers to embed on their own websites, which gives a break-down of the range, letting the customer choose a print volume and a page size.

We also have a print assessment tool that can sit on a customer’s network for 1-3 months and analyse their printer activity, showing the cost of running their flet and its electricity consumption and carbon emissions. This enables resellers to have a conversation not only about print costs but also about how to make their print flet more sustainable.

The Print 365 portal uses this data to create a 12-page assessment, giving a full breakdown of what the customer is currently doing

The workflow in the portal allows a reseller to move a customer very quickly from assessment to quotation to contract. It's all managed through the portal, with visibility at every stage.
The workflow in the portal allows a reseller to move a customer very quickly from assessment to quotation to contract. It’s all managed through the portal, with visibility at every stage.

and how much money and electricity could be saved by switching to Epson business inkjets under a Print 365 contract.

The workflow in the portal allows a reseller to move a customer very quickly from assessment to quotation to contract. It’s all managed through the portal, with visibility at every stage.

We are giving our resellers a set of tools that enables a consultative sell, making it very easy for an IT reseller and VAR to add that layer of service around managed print.

PITR: Are there any penalties for customers who exceed the monthly page allowance for their chosen package?

Wogan: There are over-printing costs, but they are ridiculously competitive. For example, with a big A3 RIPS device, the £119 per month package buys 4,000 mono pages and 2,000 colour pages per month. If you exceed that volume you pay only one third of a penny per mono page and 2.26p per colour page colour. That pricing is published and transparent – nothing is hidden from the customer.

Moreover, the print volume is aggregated across each calendar quarter. So, if a school overprints in July and September but prints nothing in August, it will pay nothing extra if its print volume balances out across the three months. If a customer does go over its allowance, the reseller will get 20% margin on those additional pages.

PITR: Can you roll software into the monthly payment?

Wogan: No. Deploying software like Papercut, which can be embedded in our hardware, is an additional service that an Epson partner can add on. Print 365 itself is just about the printer package.

PITR: If there is a problem, who is responsible for sorting it out?

Wogan: The relationship will always be with the reseller. That said, the portal enables complete control, so if there is any issue with the hardware it will be logged through the portal. Some resellers will choose to be the fist line of support, just because it is their customer. But the portal gives us visibility and enables our service agents to make the fist telephone call, because more than 80% of issues tend to be fixed over the phone. The service partners that we use for this process are targeted on first time fix – it’s all about limiting the downtime for customers.

PITR: Who does the servicing?

Wogan: We use a couple of partners. Equinox is our primary partner and we also see a smaller, more technical company called Rockwell. They are the guys that install and service large format devices and we use them sometimes for RIPS devices as well. We have made service a very high priority.

PITR: Didn’t you have something similar to Print 365 before?

Wogan: We have a couple of other propositions in our portfolio. We have Print & Save and EPP, which stands for Epson Print Performance.

The analogy I use is that if you break down a car into its constituent pieces and lay them all out, that is what a copier dealer’s managed print proposition looks like. The copier dealer takes those individual elements and builds them into something that looks and drives like a car. That takes an awful lot of investment, knowledge and a specific type of experience – and that’s what a copier dealer has.

There is also a kit-car proposition – a partially built MPS that enables a reseller to tag on bits and pieces. Print & Save is similar to Print 365, but more complex – more like one of those kit cars. For example, a reseller could include or exclude servicing depending on a customer’s requirements.

EPP is very much based around charging a capital cost for the hardware and then a cost per page to cover the consumables alone or the consumables plus service. In that respect, it is suitable for people who are au fait with the cost per copy world. For many VARS and IT resellers, Print&Save and EPP are still too complicated, requiring too much investment and knowledge that they don’t have. What we have created with Print 365 is a Tesla that is ready to drive right off the forecourt.

A cloud-based portal drives the whole process right through to the creation of the final 36-month contract.

I use the Tesla analogy, because it links back to our messaging around the differences between inkjet and laser printers in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions – not just from printing but also in the supply chain, from consumables deliveries and packaging.

PITR: Is Print 365 a good way for buyers who have doubts about inkjet technology in the workplace to try it out on a smaller scale?

Wogan: Potentially, yes. What we see happening a lot in larger organisations is that they will have a centralised print fleet, which they control very tightly with quotas and rules. Then, what tends to happen is that people decide they can’t be bothered to walk all the way down the hall to a centralised device so smaller desktop devices start appearing. Quite often, they don’t have a service wrap around them and are looked after on a local level, which means street pricing on consumables and difficulties when something goes wrong. Print 365 gives even small desktop A4 inkjet devices a service wrap.

PITR: Are you planning to recruit more resellers for Print 365?

Wogan: We are starting with Epson partners – not classic Epson print partners, but people whose world might be managed networks or managed telecoms. Print 365 is a good proposition for them because their relationship with customers centres on the network.

We are creating a tool that allows partners to wrap up their customers with a really valuable proposition and really take ownership of them. We don’t want to undermine that by bringing on the wrong kind of reseller, so we are being careful with profiling. We don’t want everyone in the world to sign up; we are looking for a VAR partner with the right look and feel who will use this for their valued customer base and add the right level of solution and service around it. Or, it could be that someone doesn’t offer any additional service, but has the right kind of customer base.

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