Spoiler alert! Don’t just focus on speed.
Adding high-speed scanners to a dealership’s product offerings is a solid value proposition. But before delving into potential end-user applications and device features, it’s important to establish what determines “high-speed.”
According to Joe Odore, product manager, Panasonic Systems Solutions Company of North America, Panasonic’s high-speed document scanners perform in the 120 to 150 page-per-minute (ppm) range. Yet, it’s not that simple.
“Speed does not equate to duty [cycle],” explained Odore. “It’s more how a scanner is used and how much. A scanning speed of 70 ppm may work fine for some personal workgroups, while a 45-ppm portable unit could prove fast enough for others.”
As volume increases on the production side, however, 80 ppm and up has become more the norm.
Scanner size comes into play, too. With many organizations implementing remote initiatives, workspace often is at a premium.
“A smaller-sized, yet full-featured scanner can be a valuable asset,” said Michael Oliva, senior product marketing manager at Canon U.S.A.
In work-from-home/work-from-anywhere (WFH/WFA) situations, smaller is better because few people have space they can dedicate to office work and office equipment.
“As long as the scanner can handle a regular-sized piece of paper, get [customers] the smallest footprint you can,” Oliva advised. For example, the operational footprint of Canon’s DR-C225 II scanner is approximately 11-½ inches wide by 6 inches deep.
Potential customers for high-speed scanning devices include the banking/finance, health care, higher education and legal fields as well state and local governments—all prime vertical markets. Looking more deeply, certain verticals with higher daily volumes require higher-end, network scanners with touch panels such as:
- Human resources departments that scan employee documents and records.
- Legal departments, law firms, government clerks and county offices that may require date stamping with imprinters on a variety of paper types and sizes (passports, ID cards, etc.).
- Schools that archive student records.
- Utility companies that maintain well logs and reports.
The health care industry is one of the largest users of scanner technology, according to Odore. But even within this vertical, there are variations on a theme. A health care firm’s back office may scan extremely high volumes of documents, requiring a larger device, while a front-office triage worker would do better with a personal, desktop scanner.
“Doctor offices need one-pass scanning for insurance and ID cards from new patients,” said Odore, who also stated that at large hospitals, “information on 50,000 to 100,000 people may need to be scanned and stored in EMR [Emergency Medical Record] systems.”
According to Canon’s Olivia, “dealers don’t need to look far for scanner prospects – they should look at their existing customer base. It’s a safe bet that most are performing the scanning function in some way. Depending on their workplace situation and IT environment, they can make ideal prospects for scanners.”
Six Tips to Consider
The scanner experts from Canon, Epson, and Panasonic shared the following suggestions on how a dealer can be successful selling scanners.
- Define and Understand. What does “high speed” mean? Carrie Fox, scanner product management director for Epson America, agrees with the assessment from Panasonic’s Odore that dealers and their customers need to understand it’s not all about pure scanning speed. “The size of the ADF [automatic document feeder] comes into play,” she said. “Can a device stack 50, 100, or 200 simplex pages at a time?” Like Epson and Panasonic, Canon implements features such as the ability to scan in duplex, yielding up to 400 images per minute as opposed to 200 single-pass pages. Built-in ADFs can handle batches of documents as opposed to individual sheets. The ability to separate pages—while removing blanks— becomes paramount for such batch-scan operations. Some models accommodate various types of media, “small or large documents, long documents, fragile documents, passports, plastic cards and more,” shared Canon’s Oliva.
- Consult. Understand customer needs and become an expert. How will the scanner be used on a daily basis? Is the customer or prospect scanning more than 1,000 pages per day on a $20,000 MFP? The scanning function on MFPs is not designed to handle high volumes. As Odore points out, “An entry-level document scanner can handle up to 3,000 monthly pages, and rollers can handle 100,000 pages before they need replacing. At a price point under $1,000, it’s pennies on the dollar to incorporate a device into a lease over 36 or 48 months.” At approximately one-tenth the cost of MFPs, a document scanner may be a better solution than an MFP, especially from a feeder wear-and-tear standpoint. Scanners represent a “nice, easy way for dealers to sell equipment,” said Odore. “These devices are workhorses that [rarely] break down.” There’s not as much service revenue because less feeder maintenance is required, and several OEMs offer “worry-free,” three-year limited warranties but consumables can add up, according to Odore. For example, roller kits run between $100 and $200.
- Train & Educate. Properly training staff and learning about reseller programs should not be overlooked. “Newer resellers of scanners may overlook training,” cautioned Epson’s Fox, who encourages dealers to take advantage of courses offered by Epson and other OEMs. “Training provides an opportunity for resellers to ask questions of manufacturers regarding the market, competitive landscape, or manufacturer-specific solutions and offerings.” Additionally, dealers should become familiar with the different discounts and incentives offered by OEMs. “When it comes to ‘solution selling,’ there are ample opportunities for marketing and co-marketing,” said Fox. “Manufacturers will likely share the key benefits their products provide as well as any promotional programs they offer for the channel and/or end-users (discounts, sales incentives, product seeding or loan opportunities, etc.). They will also likely share marketing resources (brochures, videos, images, etc.) that dealers can utilize to both help them understand product segmentation, step-up and differentiation, as well as utilize as sales tools themselves.”
- Tap into Software. Most high-speed scanners offer software-related features. For example, automatic image rotation and cropping tools are two more basic features along with image enhancements such as “de-skewing” and sharpening. Some robust scanners offer automatic binary/color distinction, which renders pre-sorting obsolete. This function automatically detects when a set of documents contains some color and some black-and-white sheets. The mix of pages can be fed together without sorting. The machine automatically compresses the data according to whether a sheet is color or monochrome to minimize the electronic file. For finance customers, compliance and software integration are critical with “intelligent-automation” programs from third-party developers such as Hyland and Kofax. Some document scanners include ISIS and TWAIN drivers for seamless compatibility with existing software. The ability to scan documents into encrypted PDF files and to multiple destinations, including cloud repositories, is also an important feature. “Worries about information security, especially with the ongoing business disruption we see, can be reduced by scanning documents in secure file formats,” noted Oliva. The ability to scan directly to compatible, third-party cloud applications such as Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Dropbox assists with the sharing of information.
- Reduce Human Touchpoints. Reducing or eliminating physical touchpoints among employees are key features sought by customers today, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. As some employees may be connecting with dispersed teams in the virtual office, while others are working in the actual office, it is imperative that equipment dealers provide customers with solutions built with these features in mind, according to Oliva.
- Ask the right questions. According to Oliva, these five queries can uncover and identify potential scanner opportunities:
- Does the customer need to scan media other than plain-paper documents such as passports, embossed plastic cards, or photographs?
- Do they need to improve scanned image quality?
- Are they transitioning to Microsoft Windows 10?
- Do they, or will they have employees working remotely?
- Are they implementing robotic process automation (RPA) or business process optimization (BPO)?
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