Earlier this year, Muratec held a Label University during ITEX 2017 to open dealers’ minds to the possibilities that exist in offering dedicated digital label printers. How this movement will fare remains to be seen, but Muratec’s acquisition by Konica Minolta will add significant firepower to its sales and marketing prowess.
The realm of digital display is another growth segment among the dealer community, with the proliferation of front office and meeting room boards driving opportunities. So, in the grand scheme of new hardware opportunities, what does the future hold for label printers and digital display?
We asked our panel of OEMs to weigh in on the subject of both disciplines during our State of the Industry feature. The panelists are Shane Coffey, associate vice president, product management for Document Systems Products at Sharp Imaging & Information Company of America; Greg Chavers, vice president, North American Business Channels and SMB for Lexmark; and Bill Melo, chief marketing executive for Toshiba America Business Solutions and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions.
Coffey: Labels are a vertical and not really a general office application. They belong in the mailroom rather than the office. Digital displays, on the other hand, are becoming ubiquitous. In addition to the typical verticals, it’s becoming unusual to see a lobby, foyer or meeting room that doesn’t feature a digital display. It represents a great complementary business to the office equipment dealer, more so because the sale of a digital display does not rely on a 36- or 48-month lease agreement. For instance, more Sharp MFP dealers are purchasing Sharp’s line of AQUOS BOARD interactive display systems to diversify their product offerings with a display that can enhance communication and collaboration in an organization of virtually any size. Since the launch of the AQUOS BOARD interactive display line six years ago, there are now 11 products in the lineup with screen sizes ranging from 40 to 80 inches and MSRPs from $2,295 to $14,800.
Chavers: We consider label and digital display a very industry-specific solution currently focused on retail. We have the ability to expand into other markets as those other markets evolve. The Lexmark Print and Digital Signage Solution is designed to handle all aspects of the signage process—from design and distribution to management and measurement. As this becomes valuable in an office environment, we can scale it to solve a specific challenge.
Melo: These are, of course, two very different opportunities—totally different businesses. Barcode printer solutions are prevalent in logistics and manufacturing operations. In terms of vertical markets, retail, shipping and transportation, and distribution centers are big users of label solutions.
Label printers are typically tied into a warehouse or logistics application of some sort. They are part of a mission-critical, last mile of the pre-ship process.
Digital signage, on the other hand, is an entirely different business. Retailers represent a big part of the opportunity, but we’ve had success in education, sports and entertainment, hospitality, medical and other verticals as well. In both cases, it’s important to understand that the hardware is part of a solution.