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Epson to reverse OEM business model

October 2, 2014

Epson EcoTank L355

Epson EcoTank L355

New EcoTank printers with refillable tanks priced higher, but consumables will last average home printer users two years.

The Guardian reported on Epson’s decision to reverse its business model by making it cheaper for users to run home printers rather than relying on the price of consumables for profit, with the refillable ink tanks included in its new printers expected to last two years based on a monthly print volume of 200 pages.

The new EcoTank L355 and L555 inkjet printers are to be “priced to make profit on sale”, with prices starting at £249 ($403/€319) compared to the typical high street price of £70to£80 ($113/€90to$129/€102). To compensate for this, the devices use refillable tanks which, while adding “about a quarter” to the printer’s size, will mean users save 60to65 percent compared to buying replacement ink cartridges. Interestingly, Epson has also reportedly stated that users will be able to refill the tank with non-Epson branded ink once it runs out.

Consumer printing has been in decline in many regions in recent years, with Lexmark and Kodak quitting the business in 2012. This has been due to many people choosing not to print due to increased digitisation, or turning to “cheaper generic cartridges” due to the high cost of buying replacement OEM cartridges, some of which were found to only contain two millimetres of ink. The Guardian also noted that sales at Epson “fell by 25 percent between 2009 and 2013”, although they “recovered partly in 2014” after making a profit in the financial year to March 2014 “after making losses in three of the previous five years”.

Noting the “aggressive marketing tactics” some OEMs have taken “to discourage refills from cheaper generic ink makers”, along with “encrypted chip technology designed to make consumers buy branded cartridges”, the article states that there is an “intense battle between main manufacturers […] and ‘remanufacturers’”, which it notes “have grabbed a third of UK sales, at the same time as counterfeit cartridges from China are flooding the country”.

By buying a printer with a tank, Epson said that “relatively heavy users of cartridge inks would find themselves making significant savings”, although those with “high printing needs” may want to consider using a laser printer, which have lower cost-per-page.

Pocket-lint reported that the EcoTank printers come with a one-year or 30,000-page warranty.

Simon Hanley, Product Manager at Epson, said: “Complementing our line-up of existing products, these models are ideal for home and small office customers who want to print everyday documents, such as recipes, homework, emails and maps, and for whom price and convenience are key factors. With two years’ worth of ink included, users know where they stand.”

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