As A4 Continues to Flourish, What Does Future Look Like for A3?

There’s no need to sound the death knell for the durable A3 device. Even with the surge of A4 placements, many end-user environments are still rife with the venerable A3. And while trends are trends, history has shown us that change is the lone constant.

The $20,000 question is, just where do businesses stand on the distributed work environment? We’ve all followed the anecdotal musings that point to hybrid workplaces becoming a permanent fixture. Certainly, with the price of gasoline continuing to skyrocket and inflation hampering business and consumer buying power, more pressure will be brought to bear in favor of keeping the pandemic-era accommodations. Still, inflation is rarely a long-lasting phenomenon, and experts project that once supply chain issues began to stabilize, prices will start to come down.

The economy, workplace configurations, hardware sourcing and previous trends toward dwindling print volumes are all factors to consider when weighing the future of A3. Our State of the Industry panel provided some perspective on how they see the market and demand settling around this very question.

Karen Mullin, KDI Office Technology

As an increasing number of companies are cultivating plans for a permanent hybrid solution or are determining their return to work strategy, Karen Mullin—sales director for MPS/major accounts for KDI Office Technology of Aston, Pennsylvania—doesn’t envision the rate of A3 placements increasing in the short term. With masks disappearing and strategies taking shape, that could change.

“A3 will always be needed, but with the new hybrid plan for most offices, the workplace is more of an A3 and A4 combination to fulfill the needs for both at-home users and office workers,” she said.

Sean Bell, Solutions YES

Another dealer that doesn’t anticipate a significant change during the course of 2022 is Solutions YES of Portland, Oregon. Still, President Sean Bell believes the opportunities for net-new business are bountiful, and he looks to capitalize on either segment.

“When you only have 4% market share, there’s another 96% to capture, and most of these (businesses) have plenty of A3,” he said. “There’s still a tremendous opportunity to grow revenue and clicks in our business.”

Sean Sullins, Prosource

In addition to seeing how the office landscape shakes out post-pandemic, one variable that bears watching is the inventory shortage, with vendors and manufacturers alike struggling to maintain A3 levels. Sean Sullins, vice president of sales for Cincinnati-based Prosource, believes that as inventory levels return and demand picks up in 2023, dealers who have positioned themselves to grow and increase market share will thrive in the space.

“The dealers that have aligned their capabilities with customers’ increasing technology needs will be able to capture the entire office, as opposed to hardware-centric companies, which will find it more difficult to thrive and grow,” Sullins remarked.

“Overall, we’ll lose some demand as some organizations will stay hybrid or remote, but the demand will still be there. We need to have a strategy to respond and capture that demand in this new environment, which also lends itself to a better A4 strategy.”

Chip Miceli, Pulse Technology

Chip Miceli, president and CEO of Pulse Technology in Schaumburg, Illinois, sees the A3 market diminishing over time, with increasingly fewer placements. This has caused the dealer to pivot even harder with its A4 game plan.

“We are one of the companies in our industry which does a strong ecommerce business, which includes A4s,” Miceli noted. “We have hired an MPS expert to assist us with our push to make this an even bigger part of our business.”

Gregg Petrie, Copiers Northwest

Certain verticals still demonstrate a clear need for A3, according to Gregg Petrie, president of Copiers Northwest in Seattle. However, he believes it is incumbent for end-user clients to huddle with a consultative sales professional to ascertain their true needs and have a tailored strategy crafted.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.