Managed print solutions are tipped to be one of the saviours of channel print sales not least as Gartner figures suggest that print hardware sales fell by 18 per cent last year.
Most, if not all vendors appear to have a finger in the managed print pie one way or another but all their offerings are not created equal.
A vendor poll by CRN this week revealed that most solutions aim at controlling print costs, with the best also easing the path into managed services for ambitious product resellers keen to step outside their comfort zones.
The ability to help customers make their infrastructure greener through print solutions is also a top selling point, with many vendors consciously choosing to highlight the potential carbon and consumption economies of their solution.
Value over volume
Paul Callow, marketing director at Lexmark, said success in managed print is about shifting emphasis from volume to value. Lexmark Value Print (LVP) and Value Print Business (VPB) are its main managed offerings and are doing well.
LVP works with a range of hardware, not just Lexmark’s, making it convenient for the customer with a heterogeneous hardware fleet.
“LVP allows the reseller to take all those copiers and enter them into a tool with details including cost per page and manage the whole fleet for the end user,” Callow said. “Resellers can enter all the elements they want and build exactly the level of management customers want. That’s important, because we find that every deal we do is different.”
VPB lets Lexmark bill the customer directly on a charge-per-click basis while partners manage the fleet, lowering the barrier to entry.
“Lexmark buys back the services and charges directly,” Callow said. “But the hardware and supplies element is still fulfilled through the channel.”
Nigel Allen, head of product management at Kyocera, said its main product,
Kyo PrintPack, is designed to suit its range of multifunction devices (MFDs) and
“It helps resellers sell a service. When they sell a printer the user signs up for Kyo PrintPack,” he said. “The order comes to us and we feed margin back to the channel.”
Managed print offerings
Channel uptake so far has been high since the October launch, with everyone making margin down the line. Kyo PrintPack customers select online from a range of offerings around Kyocera-based fleet consumables management and cost control. “You can configure it totally and price it up accordingly,” Allen said.
Sebastiaan Crebolder, channels manager at Xerox, said its main managed print solution is PagePack.
“Basically, it saves on service call-outs, spare parts, maintenance, supplies and toner. It includes everything except paper and power,” he said. “It allows our reseller community to sell and deliver Xerox servi-ces as if they were their own, but also benefit from recurring revenue.”
Resellers desperately need to make margin on something other than hardware, and managing print offerings for customers is an option. PagePack means resellers can make that additional margin without having to make major investments in new expertise or products.
“Overheads for the reseller are virtually nil,” Crebolder said. “And because of the systems behind PagePack, the engagement is between the reseller and the customer. It gives them full predictability of costs and revenues.”
Xerox also offers eClick, aimed at LARs wanting full flexibility with a
customer’s fleet. “For MFDs and printers, for example, you can agree a click
charge,” said Crebolder.
The vendor also includes MeterAssistant, SuppliesAssistant and CentreWare as part of its upcoming Smart eSolutions package.
“We are planning to launch this in the second quarter of this year,”
MeterAssistant automatically reads the meter, SuppliesAssistant monitors consumables levels alerting administrators when consumables need ordering and CentreWare should give VARs and customers full control over their MFDs via a remote device management application.
“Short deliveries or mis-deliveries [of consumables] will become less probable,” Crebolder said.
Richard Allison, IT channel manager at Ricoh, said its the firm’s Click programme starts in April. Its previous managed print solution range, including a configurator and various software utilities, is being discontinued, according to the Ricoh web site.
Quick to click
The Click service will be an easy value-add for resellers, Allison claimed.
While many print vendors have gone to market with services that profess to be click model, many involve leasing companies up front.
Allison said Ricoh Click will be closer to being a true on-demand model, with customers simply paying for what they use rather than an up-front cost each month.
Oki, Canon, HP, Samsung and Brother were also canvassed on their managed print offerings, but had not responded as CRN went to press.
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