Epson America Inc. has launched a print-as-a-service offering that allows SMBs to buy bundled hardware, supplies, and support through a single monthly subscription.
Called Cornerstone and sold through authorized resellers of Epson’s BusinessFirst print solutions, the new program is tailored to the needs of channel pros looking to cultivate ongoing relationships with customers rather than make one-time sales, according to Larry Trevarthen, Epson America’s director of business imaging.
“They’re looking for a way to own their customer long term and not be a victim of the transactional sale,” he says.
End users who order through Cornerstone receive an Epson WorkForce Pro inkjet printer, along with maintenance and replacement ink, for three years. Epson partners collect all of the hardware and warranty revenue they would earn on a conventional sale—at the same margins—upfront.
“The only difference in the hardware pricing is that we’re amortizing three years of warranty as opposed to one year of warranty with the products,” Trevarthen says.
Financing for Cornerstone is provided by GreatAmerica Financial Services. Distribution is available exclusively at present through SYNNEX Corp. “We probably will add others over time,” Trevarthen says.
Cornerstone includes cloud-based tools for generating quotes, completing contracts, and performing credit checks. The ordering system prescriptively decides which device each user receives based on their size, capacity requirements, and usage patterns. “We tell them what printer they’re going to get,” Trevarthen says. “The thesis of this is that the end user wants print functionality. They couldn’t care less about buying a model name.”
Epson provides offsite monitoring itself, using device management software from PrintFleet, as well as onsite services. It replenishes supplies automatically too, passing the full value of ink consumption along to the partner.
All Cornerstone subscriptions terminate after three years. Customers who wish to continue utilizing the service must sign a new three-year agreement, at which point they receive a current-generation printer and a new warranty. “We always know that we’re putting the latest and greatest hardware into that customer,” Trevarthen observes. Epson notifies partners of contracts in need of renewal three months before the expiration date.
Any authorized BusinessFirst VAR can participate in Cornerstone. All Epson partners qualify for BusinessFirst, furthermore, provided they’re not home-based enterprises, don’t sell third-party ink, and meet various additional financial and advertising requirements.
As-a-service purchasing options are growing increasingly popular among SMBs looking to purchase hardware the same way they buy cloud-based software. Distributors including Tech Data, Ingram Micro, and D&H have all rolled out subscription-priced acquisition programs in recent years, as have hardware manufacturers like HP Inc.