Things are looking up for printer industry after a period of great uncertainty, says Siva Kumar, Senior GM, Inkjet Printers at Epson India.
The outbreak of the global pandemic last year and the ensuing lockdown affected almost every industry in India and around the world. While the impact has been adverse in most of the cases, there are some segments that have been able to use the situation to their advantage. A fitting example would be that of inkjet printers in India. The segment that was often seen as wish-list item in the past has made its way into the list of essential items for many. In inkjet printer market, Epson retained the No 1 position, capturing 40.85% of the overall market. The company has also completed 10 years in India this year, achieving a consolidated sale of over 5 million EcoTank printers in the country during this time. CXOToday spoke to Siva Kumar, Senior General Manager, Inkjet Printers at Epson India who sheds light on the current trends and challenges in the printer market in India and Epson’s strategy to drive the market growth. Excerpt.
What recent trends do you see in the Indian printer industry?
At a broader level things are looking up after a period of great uncertainty last year. The pandemic has impacted our business in different ways. In certain segments we have seen a huge surge in demand driven by the work from home and study from home phenomena. Other segments like education and corporates have not returned to normal and hence products addressing these segments have remained sluggish. Demand for printers has been robust, especially in the home segment. We have retained the number one position in the overall inkjet printer market and to have increased our market share to over 50% in CY2021 Q1. It reflects the high adoption of EcoTank printers from customers across segments. Going forward we are looking to further enhance our presence in the high volume printing segment with our Business Inkjet printers. It is encouraging to witness more and more corporates committing themselves to a greener future for the planet.
What kind of challenges is the printer business in India facing at present, especially since the outbreak of the global pandemic?
Some of the major challenges we faced due to the pandemic were with regards to supply chain management, transportation, and delivery to partners due to restrictions. Shortage of containers was also another key challenge that resulted in the delay of imports. While the pandemic has brought along its own set of challenges, at the same time, it has opened up new opportunities for the printer business in India, especially with the Home consumer market. Thanks to WFH and e-learning, India has witnessed rapid proliferation of digital content in the recent past and in order to cut down on screen time, more and more prints are now being taken at home, which has led to printers becoming essential household items.
How did Epson tide through the crisis?
Leveraging our learnings from the first wave of Covid-19, we proactively secured the stocks at each of our warehouses to fulfill the requirements, but within the purview of the Covid-19 restrictions and conditions laid out by each of the states. We encouraged our partners to have a wider distribution across their outlets instead of maintaining higher stock at select few retail outlets. We also encouraged the partners to focused on upcountry markets and ensuring that stocks were made available and distributed as per the potential of each of the markets. Additionally, we used the lockdown to our advantage by utilizing the time to engage with more partners and customers through digital platforms to gain their mind share.
What are the other growth opportunities you have identified and leveraged in the last 15 months?
At Epson, we are optimistic about the market growth of printers, which over the last one year has seen significant growth in the Inkjet product category especially in the Home and Office segments. The acceptance of InkTank printers among consumers has increased as WFH and e-learning demands are being fulfilled. The shift from Laser printers to more Eco-friendly and economical Inkjet technology among corporate and business users continues to gather steam as concerns for the environment grow. The commercial segment which includes jobbers and photocopy shops in cities as well as upcountry markets are now upgrading to new multi-function printers (MFPs) and we see demand for new A3 EcoTank MFPs from this vertical growing. We have also noticed government departments replacing the Laser MFPs with the Epson EcoTank M15140, primarily for their photocopy requirements. The main reasons behind this shift are low TCO, thanks to Original Ink Bottle refills and a warranty of 1 year or 350,000 pages whichever comes first. On the other hand, the office segment too has been quick to realize the challenge of frequent refilling of laser toner cartridges during the lockdown and have now started considering EcoTank printers as the best choice for office printing. Overall, there is now wider acceptance of EcoTank printers across home, SOHO, Corporate and Government segments.
What’s driving the market for inkjet printers?
Inkjet printers are rapidly gaining a dominant position in both the home and office segments. According to IDC Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripheral Tracker, 1Q2021, the overall inkjet printer market size in India has witnessed an increase of 6.5% between FY19 and FY20. During this period, the home segment of the overall inkjet printer market increased approximately from 39% to 55%.
This significant growth can be attributed to the ever-evolving work from home and e-learning scenarios in the country, brought on by the pandemic. The increased ambit of home printing needs can be attributed not only to the home learning segment but also to the work from home professionals or SMBs. For certain professionals, such as lawyers and chartered accountants (CAs) who must read through high-volume content, the uptake of home printers is higher as it is easier to read and review hard copies than soft-copies. A lot of scanning requirements for reimbursement claims and GST claims are also being done from home now by consumers.
Needless to say, consumers are looking for value, for convenience and for using an environmentally sustainable technology. Epson’s EcoTank printers offer a very low print cost, are eco-friendly, easy to refill, have a high page yield and a low total cost of ownership and are hence being preferred by consumers across the board. We believe the inkjet printing market will continue to witness a healthy growth momentum post the pandemic.
Epson completes a decade in India this year. Can you highlight some of the Key milestones achieved by the company so far?
Epson has consistently secured the top position in the Indian Inkjet printer market since 2017. Our EcoTank printers recently marked two significant milestones, that of having completed 10 very successful years in India and during this time having achieved a consolidated sale of over 5 million EcoTank printers in India.Worldwide we have cumulatively sold 60 Million EcoTank printers and have a market share of 62.3% in FY20 as per IDC. In 2011, we introduced the concept of InkTank printing to the world with the announcement of the Epson L100 Inkjet printer and the L200 All-in-One printer which was also the world’s first integrated ink tank system printers.
These printers cater to the requirements of cost-conscious consumers in India and around the world. Micro Piezo Heat-Free technology in its EcoTank range of printers reduces the amount of intervention required, time saving with consistent high-speed printing and fewer replacement parts which means lower environmental impact. We have always had great success with our EcoTank printers, and we continue to innovate and provide affordable, high performing printing solutions that will help customers lower their cost of printing.
What are your future plans for business growth?
Our focus is to become carbon negative and underground resource free by 2050. We have also aligned our business activities to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We give sustainability top most priority while designing our products, thereby enabling customers to advance into the digital future. Epson will continue to highlight the advantages and benefits of Epson’s Heat-Free technology to expand the footprint of our Business Inkjet printers in Corporate and Government sectors and also focus on delivering more energy saving and high-performance products, services and solutions. We are also looking to drive more awareness around EcoTank printers in the home segment to get mindshare of the home customers as the demand for WFH and e-learning remains stable.