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Multifunction printers eating into traditional sales

MFDs are all the rage and the channel is being encouraged to place them in the context of a wider document management strategy

Customers clearly like the idea of investing in hardware that delivers multiple functions, particularly when it comes to purchasing printers.

The demand for multifunction devices (MFDs) continues to rise across Western Europe at the expense of the traditional single function printers.

Figures from Context, which gets its numbers straight from Western European distributors, has highlighted the MFD trend as one gathering pace this year.

The demand for MFDs in Q1 was 2% up on the same period last year and there was a correlation with the performance of single function printers taking a beating.

Sales of laser printers fell by 7% year-on-year and inkjet was down by 21%. That contrasted with a climb for inkjet MFDs of 6% and laser MFDs by 7%.

The UK printer market in Q1 was almost flat with just 0.6% growth but there were other countries that managed to bring in decent improvements.

“Distributors in all major WE countries except France saw increased sales of printer hardware”, said Zivile Brazdziunaite, Imaging Market Analyst at Context.

“Spain continued to register strong performance, with sales up by 25% year-on-year, driven mainly by sales to SMBs and retailers," she added.

One of the drivers from the industry that supports the growth of MFDs is not only the attraction of a single piece of hardware combining printing and scanning but also the increased ability to use them as part of a document workflow solution.

In recent weeks most of the major printer vendors have been talking about how multifunction printers are part of a wider strategy.

“OKI’s smart printers and multifunction printers are now often part of a wider workflow which includes third party software such as document management," said Andrew Hall, marketing manager at Oki Systems UK.

"Using this dedicated room means our channel partners can demonstrate to customers just how this can work for them. It’s quite a step change in concepts from the standalone printer, so it will be extremely advantageous to have a working set-up which will show clearly the benefits," he added.

Kyocera has also been trumpeting its workflow manager software and encouraging partners and customers to start thinking about using the technology.

“As paper-based processes migrate to a digital environment and the volume of data in day-to-day business operations increases, document management is becoming an increasingly integral business function” said Shamit Bagchi, expert product marketing ECM/DMS & Capturing, Kyocera Document Solutions Europe.

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