Subscription Print in the Time of COVID
A Sensical Option for Home-Based Workers (with MPS Implications)
Because of the pandemic, real estate agent Chelsea Van Horn has needed to print documents like property specs and disclosure statements from home. The HP Instant Ink program has been a huge help.
“It’s just really convenient and I hated buying printer ink before,” said Van Horn, who lives in Syracuse, New York. “I always forgot what ink my printer took and would have to look it up and call my husband. It was so expensive…”
She signed up for the program about a year ago when she purchased a new ENVY multifunction inkjet thanks to information included with the device. She’s enrolled in the “free” plan, which lets her print up to 15 pages; if she goes over, it’s just a dollar for 10 more pages. As long as the printer is connected to Wi-Fi, she automatically receives new ink when levels are low.
“So it’s really reasonable,” Van Horn said, noting that HP even provides envelopes for her to return the cartridges for recycling.
|Instant Ink Monthly Fee Covers Ink, Shipping, and Recycling|
Van Horn’s top reasons for advocating for the program largely align with a recent primary research study conducted by Keypoint Intelligence. In our US Micro-MPS/Subscription Print for SMB multi-client, we unveiled four “must have” features for any subscription print plan. There are:
- Minimized print costs
- Service arrives when needed (including break/fix)
- Monthly plan, with the ability to opt out at any time
- Automatic arrival of new ink/toner
While Van Horn did not mention printer servicing, it is likely this would be more of a concern with a higher-end, more elaborate print device. Also, companies looking to equip a variety of at-home workers may be more interested in add-on features that enhance the “basic” features listed above.
The Keypoint Intelligence study revealed the penetration of subscription printing services like Instant Ink within US organizations with 1 to 99 employees—breaking up results into three employee size categories and other demographic segments.
These results can be viewed in the context of HP’s reported growth in Instant Ink subscriptions. On HP’s most recent quarterly earnings call, CFO Steve Fieler noted that HP had increased its number of subscribers from about 5 million one year ago to over 7 million currently. HP is expecting 8 million by the end of this fiscal year.
HP President and CEO Enrique Lores added that HP is looking to connect its Instant Ink service offering to its managed print services offering to take advantage of work from home trends. This includes the start of rolling out the first phase of centralized billing for commercial employees that are printing from home.
“We had already some initiatives that we did during Q3 and we are building the infrastructure to do that in a seamless way during the next quarters,” Lores said. “But really what is behind that is the ability to print anywhere in a secure way with companies paying and funding that for their employees.”
It is interesting to see how Instant Ink and increased home working are influencing the trajectory of HP’s managed print service offering—driven by COVID-19 and the office/home hybrid that’s become the new normal for many organizations. With competing manufacturers promoting their own versions of subscription print or “micro-MPS,” the notion of traditional MPS intersecting with home delivery subscriptions is certainly a hot topic right now.
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