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Some hardware categories have seen strong demand through the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, while others that typically sit in an office environment have suffered as a result of the widespread shift to home working.
Those selling laptops, headsets and monitors have all seen spikes in demand, but the print industry has found life increasingly difficult as customers closed offices, leaving the national printer fleet to gather dust.
The consequences of that shift away from the traditional corporate workspace are going to be felt in sales, with the industry cutting revenue expectations.
Research from industry analyst firm Quocirca found that more than a third of the print industry is bracing itself for a potential drop in revenues of more than 20%.
“The reality of the impact the pandemic is having on the print industry is becoming clearer,” said Quocirca director Louella Fernandes. “As businesses begin to count the cost, confidence in the opportunities the situation could present has dropped.”
Quocirca, which regularly takes the pulse of the industry, found that although the number of respondents who feel the virus will cause significant disruption has dropped, so has the number of those who feel the crisis could create opportunities for the print industry.
Louella Fernandes, Quocirca
“Nevertheless, there is still recognition of the need for change in operating models, and half of respondents still say they plan to offer new products or services,” added Fernandes.
The print channel has reacted in the same way as colleagues in other markets, by looking to vendors for more assistance and support. There have been calls for extended payment terms, access to marketing development funds and flexibility on partner programme requirements. Some channel partners have told Quocirca that the levels of support that have been offered during the coronavirus pandemic will influence their choice of vendor and manufacturing partner in the future.
“As the print industry starts to emerge from the immediate crisis, communication between vendors and the channel will be central to recovery. Work should start on jointly developed post-crisis plans. Identifying new business opportunities around supporting home and hybrid workers and developing new services to support the changed business environment must be a shared priority,” said Fernandes.
There are some signs that business is improving, and those should start to accelerate as the lockdown eases further over the next few weeks. Healthcare and government sectors are showing demand for printing and there are signs of activity in financial services, retail and media sectors. But it is clear that many in the print industry expect it to take the rest of the year to recover from the past few months.
“Confidence is still low in the print industry about the speed of a return to anything recognisable. The impact of the pandemic will continue to reverberate through supply chains and changes to working practices. It will shake up the innovation cycle for the whole industry, forcing early changes on a sector that have been on the horizon for some time,” concluded Fernandes.