The time is now for dealers to consider an alternative to toner.
CJ and I were very happy to see that Mark Mathews has returned to the world of imaging. He is currently vice president of Epson America, Inc. Seiko Epson Corporation, or simply Epson, is a Japanese electronics company and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer printers, and information and imaging related equipment.
We have known Mathews for more than 20 years and he has always been an executive that is easy to talk to and one that is highly credible. We have interviewed him numerous times in his previous positions as vice president of marketing and as President & CEO of Toshiba America Business Solutions.
Epson made a smart move when it hired Mathews. We look forward to watching his progress as he leads his company in one of the most competitive market segments in our business. He is leading the charge of a company that is telling us inkjet has it all over toner-based systems not only in the home but in the office.
When we contacted Mathews about scheduling an interview, he was gracious always, and we had an enjoyable one-hour visit. We believe what he has to say will be of interest to dealers. It ties into what we have been saying for some time—the new world of print on any kind of substrate is being fueled by inkjet.
CR: Welcome back into our world of imaging. Given your experience, what do you see as the most important thing for Epson to accomplish?
Mathews: Our primary objective would be for us to bring a new technology to the copy, print, and scan industry. We are talking about delivering inkjet products from MFPs to wide-format, to a well-established channel. It is interesting how I came to take this job. Frankly, if it was another laser-driven technology I would not be here.
CR: Epson has caught everyone’s attention using inkjet in the MFP environment. How would you categorize the acceptance of the independent dealer of your value proposition?
Mathews. It has been interesting and overall very positive. When we say we want to talk to a dealer about inkjet delivering a lower cost on service and supplies, dealers have given us an opportunity to tell our stories. They seem to understand that now is the time to look at a different technology from toner-based products. Our message is Epson is he right company to provide those products.
CR: In terms of product, you have MFPs, wide-format, and scanners. What is your go to market strategy? Are you going to have specialists for wide-format and scanning or are the same sales reps going to be responsible for all three product segments?
Mathews: We have a strong wide-format offering and replaced Fujitsu as the number one company in total market share for scanners. We are currently going through a major expansion of our sales teams. When it is finished, we will have built out a classic BTA sales channel support structure. It will be fully staffed with pre-sale and service training for the dealer. Our sales reps will have the ability to call upon specialists in scanners and wide format to assist the dealer.
CR: With Epson joining the MFP battle there are eight companies attempting to increase market share in a declining market. What is your point of differentiation? Why should independent dealers consider Epson as one of their primary vendors?
Mathews: Fundamentally, our intellectual property is predominantly in inkjet technology. If you look at the market, 95% of all printers are inkjet. Inkjet has been making serious inroads into to the production print space. The only place it has not fully penetrated has been in the office. We think eventually inkjet is going to win.
Epson employs an EIZO electric system that is cold while our competitor uses a heat-based system. We do not require the structure that is needed to support toner-based products. That makes us more efficient and able to more fully support our products. As a publicly traded company (Nikki) you will find our revenue is $10 billion with about $6.5 billion in inkjet printing. That is larger than any of our competitors. There are also many printers in home offices. We are also involved in industrial label printing, including printing on textiles.
CR: In looking at the increasing number of players entering the business to acquire dealers how do you go about building distribution that can maximize your investment from a business driven by the annuity of service and supplies?
Mathews: We are totally focused on the dealer channel. While many dealers are selling their business, we find it interesting that we are finding many new dealers. When we come in with our story—lower cost etc.—we don’t ask dealers to replace their primary or even second lines. Dealers can use us as a door opener to attack the direct company branch down the street that is pain in your side. There are some interesting angles that Epson can bring to dealers. Inkjet gives the dealer a competitive edge and we are confident that we can help them grow and increase their profit.
CR: If dealers are interested in seeing what you have to offer, what shows, expositions, conferences or meetings are you planning on attending?
Mathews: If dealers are really interested in the product we will come and visit you. We will set up a hotel, we just finished the ITEX show with some very interesting results. We also participate at BTA shows. Seriously, we are more than happy to go into a dealer’s back yard and put on a private show.
CR: The market is changing rapidly and the increase of solutions (software) is propelling the business forward. How will Epson support the dealers in becoming more successful on the services side of the business? We are of course referring to both MPS and IT.
Mathews: All our products work with third-party solutions. We have a full-time support capability. Our greatest success has been in education with PaperCut. People bidding on school systems will find Epson projectors in those same schools as well. We have third-party software for MPS that has proven to be very successful.
CR: We would like you to picture yourself standing at a podium in a hall filled with independent dealers. They are there because they are looking for alternatives, direction or new opportunities. What would be your underlying message to them?
Mathews: We know the competitive landscape, and everybody is looking for something different. We believe that inkjet is the difference-maker, and everybody knows wherever inkjet goes, inkjet wins. If you want to differentiate and grow in a market that is experiencing a fundamental change, Epson is the partner that can provide the products that addresses that change.
You will find Epson products such as printers in many of your local Starbucks. You also find photographic printers widely being used. For those of your dealer subscribers who are in Los Angeles and would like to visit our office, we have a large warehouse facility that is open to the public. There you will see all the products Epson produces.
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