How Can European Dealers Take the Next Step?

Guidance from Norwegian Print Advisor

07/01/2020

 

The contrast in the dealer landscape in Europe versus the United States is stark. Hardly a profound statement considering the difference in countries, languages, and currencies, but it bears repeating. Also, European dealers are, for the most part, regional or domestic as cross-border invoicing and legislation are complicated to navigate. And aside from Apogee and a few other operations, technology and services providers in Europe don’t come close to rivaling any of the megas in the US.

 

Still, all dealers—no matter location, size, or scope—always desire new streams of revenue. Or, in a word, opportunities. Now more than ever.

 

“We thought the world couldn’t stop but it did, and it’s been a massive disruption for businesses,” said John Alfred Hustvedt, an advisor to the print industry. “But COVID-19 may also be fueling change in our industry. Remote working, virtual meetings—the decline in office print in Europe was roughly 40% in April and May. As people’s behavior around print changes, we will be forced to think differently. Will there be simpler composition of print jobs and less need of large A3 MFPs with finishers? Maybe ink, with the environmental benefits that Europeans like, will take another step forward. Regardless of how this story unfolds, dealers must be open to anything and willing to invest the time and resources in their evolution.”

 

Courtesy of John Alfred Hustvedt

 

Loyalty reigns in Europe: Dealers stick with their A3 brand, typically. Hustvedt isn’t advocating for them to become multi-branded, but he does believe that A4 will gradually grow and overtake the A3 business.

 

“Europe is a diverse marketplace,” Hustvedt said. “Different countries have different characteristics, and different brands have more of a presence in different regions. “Kyocera, with its A3 and A4 devices, dominates in Germany but is hardly visible otherwise. OKI, which plays only in the A4 space, is still strong in Spain but nowhere else. And Brother is establishing itself as a more meaningful competitor by educating dealers on its A4 MFP portfolio.”

 

Managed print services have long since reached a maturation point in the US, with many dealers requiring it as part of any equipment agreement. As Hustvedt described, however, the offering of MPS providers in Europe is basically the same today as it was a decade ago. Wouldn’t companies want the consultative approach—the heart of MPS, in essence—to help optimize hardware and reduce costs given how much the coronavirus has already wreaked havoc?

 

Many people might not return to the office for the foreseeable future, and perhaps even longer than that, so Nubeprint could very well benefit. How? Well, the developer’s MPS tools can monitor local devices—read: A4 hardware in the home—and, thus, enable dealers to monetize both meters and supplies. But the workplace isn’t going away, which is where eesyQ comes in. Through applying QR code stickers to items in the office, dealers can enable users an easy route for ordering offline items such as coffee, water, and nearly anything else, allowing dealers to add more arrows to their quiver.

 

Another intriguing area is managed IT services. European dealers have been slower than their US counterparts in embracing IT, leaving MSPs to virtually monopolize the workload on the continent. IT competence would, therefore, be a new task for a host of engineers, and most dealers don’t have the infrastructure to support IT. But if ever there was a right moment to flip the switch…

 

Bringing it all back to COVID-19, and to let a company name do all the talking, is THP CLEAN HARDWARE. This organization provides a service whereby its staff disinfects touchscreens, keyboards, and entire devices, in turn providing peace of mind to office workers—especially in larger settings—who often have walk-up jobs at MFPs. That said, dealers could offer their own cleaning service, maybe through techs after they fulfill service requests.

 

Despite declining margins and volumes, Hustvedt remains confident that dealers can still make plenty of money with print so long as they’re innovative with their respective business model. “You need to change the way you run your business because nothing happens when everything stays the same,” he said.

 

If you work for a dealer, no matter where you are in the world, we want to hear from you. Please email us at info@keypointintelligence.com to share your thoughts!

John Alfred Hustvedt, Printelligent Advisor