Home usage of inkjet inktank printers gets a boost during Covid, says Siva Kumar of Epson

Although office use has seen a dip

Siva Kumar, senior general manager, inkjet printers at Epson India

The lockdowns imposed in the country due to Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in employees working from home and children attending classes online. This has resulted in a rise in home usage of inkjet inktank printers. However, because the workplaces are shut, the office segment has seen a dip, said Siva Kumar, senior general manager, inkjet printers at Epson India.

“The situation created by Covid-19 has created an opportunity in the home segment as office segment was impacted due to prolonged shutdown of workplaces,” Siva Kumar said. “Information technology companies incentivized their workers to set up work infrastructure at their homes. This gave a big boost to home printing segment.”

The decline in office segment was offset to a large extent by growth in home segment; where overall impact on the inkjet inktank printers was not very severe, he said.

Epson India operations remain resilient

Although the impact on Epson India’s inkjet inktank printers was visible due to Covid-19, that impact was not very severe. For the year that ended in March 2020, Epson sold little over 810,000 units while for the year that ended in March 2021, that figure was slightly over 760,000 units.

“So, the impact has not been very big,” Siva Kumar said. The company expects that in the year that will end in March 2022, its performance will be much better. “Whatever losses we saw in April, May, and June this year are expected to be made up during the rest of the year if there are no more disruptions,” he added.

Adoption of digital communications methods

Like a lot of other companies across industries, Epson India too has successfully adopted digital communication means. The company has been interacting with its partners and customers online using digital platforms.

“We were able to connect with a lot of people and organize training programs online. Earlier we used to do face-to-face interactions but now we have aggressively adopted digital methods. This has also resulted in an increase in the number of engagements. I believe this trend will continue even if things go back to normal,” Siva Kumar said.

Focus on environment

Siva Kumar said that Epson India is working on creating greater awareness about its heat-free technology among its customers. Epson’s heat-free technology does not require heat in the ink ejection process. Instead, pressure is applied to the piezo element, which flexes backwards and forwards firing the ink from the printhead.

Heat-free technology uses less power because it does not use heat to warm up. As inkjets have no fuser unit to heat, this results in significantly less energy consumption. Thanks to heat-free technology, Epson inkjet printers use fewer parts that need replacing.

“As a responsible corporate entity, we are doing our part to care for the environment. We are trying to educate our customers about heat-free technology so that we can help them minimize impact on the environment,” he said.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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