Exclusive: Epson’s New Strategy for Office Printing in UK and Ireland

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Continuing to deliver

Nick Taylor has just taken over as Epson’s head of sales for office print for UK and Ireland, and he is confident that with the manufacturer’s heat-free inkjet printers and exclusively channel sales model, the company can continue to deliver what customers want in terms of productivity and sustainability.

Nick has recently taken over as Epson’s head of sales for office print for UK and Ireland, having previously been channel sales manager for UK and Ireland, and his mission now is to convert businesses from laser to inkjet printing. 

Nick has taken over the role from Richard Wells, who has become head of market development for home and office printing at Epson Europe, where he will support the development of inkjet printing internationally. 

The benefits of heat-free inkjet printing – something unique to Epson – are clear, according to Nick. “Laser printers dominate the managed print services market. These devices have drums, toner, fusers, developer and many component parts that use a huge amount of energy and create heat within the printing and copying process” he says. 

“We’ve been able to recently launch an eight-year warranty on all Epson Office Print devices, which is industry-leading. Because our technology doesn’t use drums, developer and has very few consumable parts, they are extremely reliable, something which our channel partners regularly comment on as a key advantage of the technology. In addition, the Micro-Piezo print head technology provides high quality printing output due to the compact and precise innovation across all our printing technology.

Reseller communication

While there are numerous benefits of heat-free inkjet printers, these need to be communicated to customers, many of whom are more familiar with laser technology, and this is where resellers play a crucial role as Epson operates a 100% channel sales model. “We don’t sell any products directly,” he says. “My role is to oversee the sales and marketing strategy for our go-to market value proposition in the office print market, working alongside our dedicated and trusted channel partners across the UK and Ireland.”

The company has a large network of trusted partners that specialise in managed print services and wider IT services. “It’s mine and my team’s job to support these partners in talking to customers, which can be anything from organisation in the public sector, schools, colleges, or businesses from all parts of the private sector,” he says. “We are there to support our channel partners to grow their business and win opportunities in managed print services.

“Because our route to market is 100% channel-focused, without our partners, we don’t have a business. So, we aim to support our partners as much as we can, working very closely with them, aligning our sales approaches and resources to offer a differentiated message in the marketplace and therefore give them the best opportunity possible to showcase the value of heat-free print technology to their customers. Much of the technology within the marketplace is ‘me too’, but, in my view, the Epson heat-free offering is completely standalone and offers value that can’t be delivered elsewhere.” 

Sustainability

Another key message for resellers to get out to the market is the sustainability of Epson’s devices, Nick adds.

“Our value proposition is all about sustainability through energy and waste reduction. The role of my team and I is to support our channel partners in educating the market place about the benefits of Epson’s products; they’re a unique offering in the marketplace as it is the most environmentally conscious solution that is available,” he says. 

“Sustainability is increasingly one of the top objectives of large organisations now,” says Nick. “Before COVID, sustainability was for most organisations a ‘nice to have’ or a box ticked. But COVID made everybody more aware of what happens when the planet stands still and there’s no aeroplanes and there’s no public transport and everyone stops. You see clearer skies and clearer rivers. Of course, every year, unfortunately, we see wildfires, floods and famine in different parts of the world. Sustainability and the wider environmental topic are much further to the forefront of people’s minds now. That’s transitioned into organisations as well that want to be more environmentally conscious, not necessarily because of corporate objectives or sustainability targets, but they genuinely believe being more sustainable is the right thing to do. A lot of businesses think that now, and that very much lends itself to our proposition.

“Epson has been working for a long time towards greater sustainability. We have pledged to reduce the total emissions of our products and services by 2030 in line with the 1.5°C scenario. We will achieve this through reducing the environmental impacts of our products and services, and in our supply chains” says Nick.

Longer warranties

Of course, offering a longer warranty than other providers in the market, and trying to keep printers in the field for longer, plays into this, although it may seem counterintuitive for a manufacturer and its partners, who usually want to sell customers more products. But, as Nick notes, by offering that extended warranty, it can encourage more customers to buy Epson printers in the first place.

“It’s also to do with the circular economy,” he adds. “Instead of purchase, use and throw away, customers are also looking to recycle and then repurchase. Our strategy is clear: we want our consumers to use, use and reuse our technology because of the robustness of it. That delivers extra value, not just to our end users, but to our channel partners as well, because they can offer something unique in the marketplace. That’s built into our business model and strategy moving forward.”

Optimising savings

This also plays into Epson’s value offering, and this is something that Nick worked on in his previous role at the company. Along with his team, he led the application of Epson’s Optimisation Tool in the UK and Ireland, which allows resellers to calculate the savings in energy, consumables, time and cost when their customers convert to heat-free inkjet from laser printing. 

“It allows channel partners to engage with customers and deliver tangible financial benefits,” he says. “For example, if an organisation currently has 20 laser printers, we’ll compare that to 20 Epson heat-free printers, and it will show the fewer number of consumable changes that the end user has to make over that period, and in a monetary value the energy savings that will be made because the device is much more energy efficient. It will also show CO₂ savings, and break all of that down and show customers how much money they could save. 

“That’s been really powerful for us because it’s been able to demonstrate very clearly the value of the technology.”

Growing market

Demonstrating value is key for resellers as the market is competitive, even if it is growing again and getting back to pre-COVID levels. “When COVID hit, the industry saw a dramatic reduction instantly in printing volumes because everybody worked from home. Those printing volumes have returned since, but the way that people print now is different,” Nick says. “Traditionally, an organisation may have had an office with 100 people in it that had, for example, 15 printers. That organisation now has probably reduced their office size and only have maybe five or eight printers servicing those 100 people. 

“Instead of those people printing Monday to Friday, they might come in the office on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so the volume of print is being consolidated into a smaller number of days. Now, when buying a new fleet of devices, organisations want high-speed, robust, capable devices because they do the same print volume over a shorter period. 

“Of course, Epson is also very strong in the home printing market. We’ve had a lot of success in this market in previous years and now we see that many now have a desktop printer with scanning facilities at home as well and that fits nicely with the product set we offer. 

“While print volumes have overall reduced slightly in recent years, we’ve seen a transition from working in the office to hybrid working, but still people really need high quality devices in the office.

“Some people still prefer to print documents off and read them on a physical copy, rather than on a screen to digest the information. We’ve had feedback from partners that tell us that end users get overloaded with screen time and want to have that hard copy document to read instead.”

MPS evolution

As the print sector continues to evolve, so too does the managed print services market. “As organisations look to digitise more processes, scanning and digitisation is becoming more prevalent,” Nick says. “We’ve developed a lot of tools focused on enhancing our scanning and archiving proposition in recent years, which is helping our partners deliver greater innovation and value to their customers. 

“It comes back to hybrid working. Having a managed print service that encompasses home users as well is important. Instead of perhaps managing a fleet of devices located in one office location in a city centre, an organisation might now also have 30 home users across the country where you’ve got to deliver consumables to. One of the ways that we’re helping with that is through our long-life consumables. We have consumables that print up to 86,000 pages before they need changing, which means you need to change consumables less often – perhaps even lasting the lifetime of the device, depending on how much the end user prints. 

“It means that you can almost have a fit-and-forget model because the devices don’t need servicing as regularly as laser printers. It’s about trying to give the end user a hassle-free service where print isn’t a distraction, it’s something that just happens and happens well.”

Continuing innovation

Of course, Epson continues to innovate with its printer range, and has launched several in the past 18 months, such as the mid-market (40-60ppm) offering with the WorkForce Enterprise AM-C series. “These A3 printers have been exceptionally popular in the marketplace,” Nick says. 

Epson has also recently launched its AMC 400 and AMC 550 A4 devices – see p19 for more on those. 

“Epson will continue to innovate and bring new products to the market in the future,” Nick adds.

“That’s one area where we are looking to continue to disrupt because while other laser competitors in the market have USPs of their own, we genuinely believe that the heat-free technology is unique, not just in terms of the technology, but the value that it offers to customers. 

“There is lower intervention in terms of the number of times you have to interact with the printer with long life consumables, much less waste is produced, it consumes less energy, and creates less CO₂. A laser printer can’t do that to the same extent that Epson’s heat-free technology can. For us, the marketing element is important because we want to get the messaging of our technology out into the end user marketplace. We do that exclusively through our channel partners. They’re important to us, because they’re the people that are out there extolling the virtues of heat-free inkjet printing every day.”

When most of the industry is laser, getting the message out is even more important to explain the advantages of it over what they may have used before. “It’s a different technology called Micro-Piezo print heads, which is the underlying technology that makes them possible,” he says. “Epson’s version is unique. There’s a perception from some users that may have had an inkjet printer 15-20 years ago that it was very slow as the print head moved across the page. But things have moved on and now they have very high quality, very high-definition output – all the things that you would expect from a multifunction printer, but with the added environmental benefits.”

Successful career

Marketing the printers in Epson’s range is a key part of Nick’s new role at Epson, a company he has been with since 2020, joining six weeks before the pandemic hit. “Which was very lucky indeed,” he says, 

Selling the benefits of products is something he has always done. Nick started his career at age 16 selling mobile phones.  “I just absolutely love interacting with customers and the buzz of winning a deal and getting a contract,” he says.

After working in that sector for a few years, he wanted to try business to business sales and joined a managed print service partner in Brighton, where he lived at the time.

From there, he joined Canon, where he spent five years working in a national accounts role and then working in its European division, setting up a data capture and document management business. He then moved to Kyocera, where he was head of business development. 

After this, Nick joined Epson as a channel sales manager for UK and Ireland. “Working very closely with key channel partners to support the growth of their business, overseeing account management, pre-sales and our end user team,” he explains. 

Future positive

But now he is settling into his new role, Nick is ambitious for the future of Epson, and heat-free inkjet printing, in the UK. “We need to continue to be disruptive in the marketplace because of that unique offering and messaging that we’ve got,” he says. 

“Our objective is clear: we want to continue to educate customers about the benefits of heat-free technology and closely support our channel partners to convince customers to upgrade from laser devices to heat-free inkjet printing technology. That is our number one objective in continuing to grow our business. 

“We’re going to do that through educating our end user prospects about why they should be talking to Epson for their managed print services, and by supporting our channel partners to sell this technology. It’s quite a simple strategy, but one that’s been working very well for the last few years. My objective is to carry on the great work that Richard Wells has done and to accelerate the growth of Epson and our channel partners.”