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“We are #1 brand in almost every product segment we operate in”

While giving out details on the strategy to pip the competition in the inkjet printers space, Siva Kumar, General Manager, Inkjet Printers, Epson India, spoke to Amit Singh on the plans to further consolidate its leadership through aggressive strategies to capture home, SOHO and enterprises segments

Please share the performance highlights of Epson in India over the last 12-18 months. What are the significant growth contributors to Epson’s revenue growth in India?

Siva Kumar, General Manager, Epson India

2017 has been another good year for Epson. The pre-GST slowdown was more than adequately compensated with a spike in sales post the introduction of GST. Sales growth has been on par with our expectations and we expect to meet our targets for the year.

We are now the #1 brand in almost every product segment we operate in. This includes inkjet printers, photo printers, point of sale printers, projectors, dot-matrix printers, and so on.

A key highlight for us in 2017 was becoming the #1 inkjet printer brand by volume earlier in the year (we have been #1 by value for several years). Epson captured 42.9 percent of the inkjet market by volume. Our value market share increased to 51.8 percent. In fact, we now have 2 million+ Epson InkTank printer users in the country making it another highlight for us for this year.

In the projector category, we have been the worldwide market leader for 16 years now as per the latest data published by FutureSource Consulting in 2017. In India too, we are the clear #1 brand by far. We registered a consistent growth to achieve 29.7 percent market share in terms of unit shipments in projectors.

We credit our growth to our focus on making Epson InkTank printers as the de facto technology replacing ink cartridge and laser technology in India. In the projector segment, we continued to expand the market share with our superior 3LCD projection technology.

Maintaining leadership position against players like HP and Canon in the inkjet printer market is a big fate. What were the strategies which helped you scale and maintain this position?

It took a deep consumer insight almost 7 years ago to realise that consumers were fed up with having to pay exorbitant amount for ink cartridges and consequently for each print and there was a crying market need for low-cost and affordable printing. We took a bold step of introducing InkTank printers with refillable inks when no one else in the market even considered such a possibility.

Consumers immediately embraced our printers which offer the lowest cost per print at just 7 paisa per page for black and white, and 18 paisa per page for colour composite. Users could also avoid the inconvenience of running out of ink and get almost 10-times the yield compared to ink cartridges which saves money and time.

We moved quickly to communicate the benefits of our printers to various commercial segments including photocopy shops, jobbers, print shops, photo studios etc and subsequently to office and home segments. The value-conscious Indian consumer needed very little convincing once the benefit was explained. And once the word of mouth kicked in, what was initially a trickle turned to a huge shift.

Secondly, our focus has been on offering innovative products and services for our customers based on our research and development. This customer-centric approach has helped the R&D team in developing innovative technologies that are revolutionising the printing industry. Our products are industry benchmarks; we have the widest product range and they have been of exceptional quality and consumers have realised and appreciated this.

Thirdly, our strong dealer network played crucial role in ensuring our products reached far and wide and that every segment was penetrated with a strong and stable distribution in place. Finally, excellent marketing campaigns have conveyed the message clearly to consumers to ensure a strong pull for the product.

What are the initiatives that Epson has planned to further consolidate its leadership in the inkjet market?

Epson intends to address all the printing needs of home and office with InkTank printers and make inkjet InkTank printers as the de facto technology replacing ink cartridge and laser technology in India.

Our penetration into the commercial segment with RIPS (Replaceable Ink Pack System) printers has been very successful. We will continue to offer better products at the lowest cost per print to keep our core customers happy.

We are also penetrating into the home market. The home and SOHO segments account for 75 percent of the inkjet market as more and more families with kids have printing requirements. Consumers from these segments are realising the benefits of InkTank printers over erstwhile cartridge-based models. We have been targeting this segment actively as we have noticed a surge.

We would like to increase our focus on the home segment with our range of InkTank printers as we still find consumers buying ink cartridge printers due to the lack of knowledge about the benefits of InkTank printers.

Last but not the least; we are shifting laser printer users in offices to Epson mono InkTank printers. After seeing the performance and benefits of Epson mono InkTank printers, many organizations have started replacing their laser printers with Epson InkTank printers, which offer benefits like low power consumption, water and fade resistant prints and the highly reliable micro piezo print head, all making Epson mono InkTank printers the best choice for office printing.

Further, we will continue to focus on replacing laser printers in the office segment with our mono InkTank printers and shift the existing mono laser users to the newly launched compact and stylish range of colour InkTank printers- L4150, L4160, L6160, L6170 and L6190.

Epson India recorded 21 percent growth in the last financial year (2016-17) to reach a turnover of Rs. 1593 crore. We have been posting a steady growth of over 20 percent for the last 4 years and target to achieve revenues of Rs 2000 crore in the next financial year.

We are also investing in increasing our market share in tier-2 and -3 cities, and are working closely with our channel partners to achieve these goals.

Epson has recently expanded its business inkjet printers range with L1455 featuring A3 printing. However, the feedback is that while Ink Tank technology is quite popular among retail and SMB customers, large enterprises and PSU/government still prefer laser. How do you plan to change the mind-set and address this challenge?

Epson has successfully converted the sub-20ppm laser printer users to Epson mono InkTank printers in some of the SMB and large enterprises due to the benefits our printers provide like low-cost per print and low TCO compared to laser printers.

L1455 is an A3 colour MFD gaining acceptance in SMBs and large enterprises replacing A3 mono lasers. While many large enterprises, PSU and Government organizations wanted to continue with only mono printing and avoid colour printers, they are now realizing that they can use our L1455 colour MFD as the cost per print for colour is lower than laser mono A3 MFDs.

Further, in comparison to the competition, Epson’s enterprise printers range is quite limited. What is your roadmap for product expansion?

Our InkTank printers for home, photo, office and commercial usage are doing phenomenally well. We have an expansive range of enterprise printers. For large corporates, our product portfolio includes the WorkForce Pro RIPS business printers. The advanced RIPS technology uses super-high-yield ink supply units for printing up to 84,000 pages between ink changes. This eliminates most of the physical waste involved in printing when compared to color laser printers. The RIPS printer also significantly reduces time and hassle, helps large businesses meet their environmental goals and improves productivity by providing the benefits of a distributed printer fleet.

Epson’s PrecisionCore technology gives an unmatchable cost per print of less than 30 paisa for black & white and less than 75 paisa for colour composite prints.

Our product portfolio also includes L1455, the first ever A3 colour InkTank multifunction printer specially designed for corporates & copy shops. L1455 makes productivity bigger with the ability to print documents up to A3+ size at high speeds and automatic duplex printing, scanning and copying of double-sided documents, even up to A3 size.

The enterprise range of printers also includes our M series which are monochrome printers that deliver speedy performance with low running costs. The high-capacity ink and superb durability ensure reliable high-volume printing without ever compromising on quality. The M series printers offer ultra-high yield outputs of 6,000 pages. Compared to mono laser printers, the M series offer low cost per print at 12 paisa. The cost of an ink bottle refill is just Rs 699 and the bottles are eco-friendly. The printer consumes only 12 watts and can run on 600 VA UPS.

We have also recently launched our latest WorkForce Enterprise printer, WF-C20590, which prints 100 pages in a minute. The WorkForce Enterprise printer’s ultra-high capacity ink cartridges yield up to 100,000 pages (2x 50,000) in black and 50,000 pages in colour each, enabling uninterrupted downtime and a lower TCO and greater cost savings. With the high yields and high volumetric efficiency, there is reduced frequency of consumables exchange compared to toner replacements of a laser printer. The high capacity paper feed unit with option for up to 5,350 sheets for input and paper output capabilities of up to 4,000 with the sheet finisher unit support high volume printing.

What are your recent initiatives for channel partners? What are your current channel footprint and your plans for channel partners in India?

Channel plays a vital role in Epson’s growth story; our long-term strategy involves working closely with selected partners who have a thorough understanding of how Epson products and technologies work. We are focused on growing the market, channel, and partnerships and we invest regularly in various initiatives to empower and educate our channel partners.

Currently, we have more than 150 EAPs (Epson accredited partners) and 4000 resellers – ECCs (Epson certified channel partners) across India.  We constantly conduct dealer meets and have monthly, quarterly and annual incentive programs for our partners.

We have also launched a web portal to be in touch with them constantly & share regular updates.

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