The past 12 months in IT channel printer sales has been a tale of two markets, as consumer demand soared while business sales suffered from lockdowns. According to CONTEXT data from the European market, the story for 2021 will be similar, with consumer sales growing at a lower rate—at least, during the start of the year.
Ups and downs
The print industry saw multi-function devices record impressive sales growth through distribution over the past year. Entry and mid-level printers were particularly sought after by home workers and students during lockdowns and the trend will likely continue at a lower rate in Q4 2020 and early 2021.
On the other hand, so will relatively poor performance in the commercial space as continued office closures take their toll on demand. The growing popularity of Managed Print Services among businesses has also reduced demand for upfront hardware purchases in the corporate sector, and for small offices and the self-employed.
A focus on durability
The pandemic has accelerated adoption of ink tank printers, which is likely to continue into next year. These appeal to consumers looking for more durable home devices with low running costs. Demand has been given an added boost by the recent market shortage of ink cartridges and increased average selling price of printer hardware and consumables.
Despite being more expensive than traditional inkjet printers, we expect further growth in this segment in the coming months as home users look to reduce the ongoing costs of their devices. Managed Print Services will also see growing adoption, especially for SMBs and the self-employed who are looking to rein in spending. Although the go-to-market for these services is typically a subscription direct from vendor to customer or specialist dealer, we have also seen the distribution channel partner with vendors in this space.
For early 2021, expect consumer sales to continue to grow thanks to demand from remote workers and students, although at a lower rate than 2020. Ink tank sales will gain an even greater share in Europe. We’re also predicting plenty of promotions and discounts at all levels of the value chain to get rid of excess inventory—especially in the business space. It could be a good time to grab a bargain.
© CONTEXT 2021