Opportunities Outside the Office Printer Box

With continued declines of office printer shipments, printer installed base, page volumes, and resulting operating profits for most printer manufacturing and resellers, it is not surprising that they are looking at opportunities outside the “office printer box”.  Most of the major office printer manufacturers are participating in the commercial print market with both cut sheet and web press models using a combination of laser and inkjet technologies.   The output from these digital presses isn’t just office media since these presses are printing labels, foldable cartons, photo books, newspapers, magazines, books etc.  More recently, manufacturers such as HP and Ricoh are counting on the huge potential for 3D printing to hopefully more than offset the declines in the traditional office printing market.  Similarly, Xerox is looking at the future of printing directly on durable goods eliminating the need for labels at all.  In many cases, is a matter of chasing print volumes that do not have anything to do with paper at all.

Many print providers, MPS providers, and office printer resellers are also looking outside the office printer box to grow their businesses since they know that status quo just won’t cut it given the state of the office printing market.  They are looking for opportunities that may be a niche today but hopefully will grow and become mainstream in the future such as 3D printing.   Resellers might consider getting more into label printing, ID card printing, wide format printing, flat bed printing, 3D printing, and industrial printing (printing directly on box, bottle, can etc.) which are each large or potentially large markets but perhaps not as competitive as the office printer market and they offer the potential for added value and higher margins.  For MPS providers, why not consider looking outside the office printer box and consider including some or all of these devices in your MPS contracts?  Many of these devices are located outside the office (i.e. warehouses, production floors, or engineering departments, but they are still devices that can and should be managed within in enterprise.

The opportunities identified all share something in common.   They include some form imaging technology and they all print on to some substrate whether paper, label, card, vinyl, wood, plastic, metal etc. and they all use some form of consumables which is that important annuity that makes each of these opportunities somewhat attractive.

It will be interesting to monitor the progress that the printer manufacturers and the channel makes as they look outside the printer box over the next few years.

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