To reach that coveted spot, the company has rolled out innovative new models, good margins for partners, and a new three-year warranty.By Joel Zaidspiner
Epson America Inc., a household name in printing and imaging, is quickly growing its market share of commercial scanners. The Long Beach, Calif.-based company is still in the No. 2 spot in units sold, however. ChannelPro-SMB’s Associate Publisher Joel Zaidspiner asked Mark Pickard, senior product manager at Epson, for the company’s strategy on closing that gap.
ChannelPro-SMB: What do you see as your job in getting Epson to first place in commercial scanners?
Mark Pickard: We are working very hard on communicating our competitive advantages to the dealer network. Model for model, we’re typically less expensive. We’re typically faster. And we almost certainly have a longer warranty, because we’ve just introduced the three-year warranty across our entire commercial line. So, that makes for a better business case for resellers to choose and recommend Epson.
ChannelPro-SMB: Can you tell us a little bit about your new, recently announced scanners?
Pickard: Yes, we have three new models, bracketed within our DS530 and DS860 desktop lines. The DS530 is our most popular, traditional desktop scanner, and at 35 ppm it’s faster than normal for that range of product. The DS860 is our fastest desktop sheet-fed at 65 pages a minute. All three of the new models fit in between those ends.
ChannelPro-SMB: And the new models?
Pickard: Starting with the DS575W, that’s a wireless version of the DS530. The wireless interface we added allows customers to scan directly to an IOS or Android device or a PC or Mac. It also can be connected over the infrastructure Wi-Fi network to be shared among multiple workstations.
The next product up is the DS770—same platform, but at 45 pages a minute and a 100-sheet page capacity. It’s for someone using the document scanner more heavily than the DS30.
The third product is the one that’s getting the most interest because it’s for a completely different deployment architecture. Here, we’ve built in a network interface and a front touch panel.
When Epson does a network scanner, we don’t do it the same way as other brands. We allow very easy sharing among multiple workstations. Each one of these workstations would have our software installed. It doesn’t need to be running, just installed. And each workstation can define the different job structures that they perform, automating where and how images are to be stored.
So you don’t have to go back and forth between the scanner and the workstation to do the scanning job. You just drop the originals in, choose your computer, choose the job you want to define, [select] the scan settings, and then just let it work.
It’s also a very useful scanner when just plugged into a single PC on a USB port. So, now, those 30 jobs that I’ve defined on my desktop are now available in English-language description on a scrolling touch panel.
ChannelPro-SMB: To what extent are scanners an overlooked opportunity for partners targeting the SMB space?
Pickard: Well, one of the very common questions we get is, why do I need a document scanner if I have a scanner on top of my multifunction printer (MFP)? The answer is that if you’re scanning a couple of pages a day, you probably don’t need a dedicated document scanner.
But as soon as you start getting into tens of pages a day or stacks that are 50 pages, you’ll get really tired of waiting for your MFP to do what can be done in a couple of minutes on a dedicated scanner. It’s all a matter of your user’s frustration tolerance. Dedicated desktop scanners run so much more efficiently. They’re much more durable. They treat the paper better.
Another case for efficiency: Some of those MFPs have multiple-pass duplexing, so, you’ll have the paper going in and out three times before it actually finishes the scan. It’s hard to watch that once you’ve seen one of these desktop scanners go because they’re capturing both sides of the page in one pass, very, very quickly, very, very efficiently.
Getting up from your workstation to go to a central MFP to do your scanning is horribly inefficient. If that’s the comparison, well, the scanner ends up paying for itself in productivity gains.
ChannelPro-SMB: Are these scanners money makers for the SMB market right now?
Pickard: Profitable for the channel? Yes, absolutely. We’ve built our channel programs to enhance profitability through our dealer ImageWay program. We’ve set up the pricing such that, if you’re not part of our program, there’s very little margin available. But if you are part of our program, that margin is preserved. You can’t be really profitable and then collapse the price.
But with our program comes restrictions. For instance, you can’t put it on third-party websites at any price because we want to make sure that the channel is supported with margin. A huge part of what we do is maintain control over the advertised price online.
ChannelPro-SMB: What are some of the top priorities at Epson for the scanner market in 2017?
Pickard: For the scanner market, they are to grow the commercial channel. To exploit these new models to show the dealer network that we have the complete line, a third-year warranty, and a profitable lineup.
ChannelPro-SMB: Any last words for our ChannelPro readers?
Pickard: We are very excited about not just these new models, but the expansion of our ImageWay dealer program, which will make it even more profitable for the best dealers. We have different levels depending on the level of commitment, and it is really going to be a terrific year for Epson in scanners.