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Record high for printer shipments in China

August 25, 2020

IDC’s latest “China Printing Peripheral Market Quarterly Tracking Report (Q2 2020)” shows that in the second quarter of 2020, China’s print peripherals market shipped 5.438 million units.

This latest quarterly report shows that the market has seen a year-on-year increase of 19.1%. Inkjet accounts for 1.871 million units, a year-on-year increase of 42.5% and laser printers count for 2.958 million units, a year-on-year increase of 19.9%; thermal print technology accounts for 607,000 units, a year-on-year decrease of 22.4 %.

According to IDC, the consumer demand in the market remained strong, and the shipment of inkjet products in the consumer market reached 1.277 million units in the second quarter. IDC’s latest consumer printing user behaviour research report shows that ink cartridge products account for more than 40% of the overall consumer market.

IDC said that as manufacturers continue to improve the awareness of ink tank products among consumer users, coupled with its lower printing cost advantages, ink tanks have greater growth potential in the consumer market. IDC predicts that in the second half of 2020, the pandemic situation in some areas may see a second wave. There will be some home users preparing for home office or online learning, so there is still a need to buy printers. In the second half of the year, consumer market shipments can still maintain positive year-on-year growth.

There are regional differences in the degree of recovery of commercial demand in the laser market: the procurement of commercial printing equipment in the eastern and southern coastal areas have recovered faster, while the northern and western regions have been affected by repeated local outbreaks and the recovery of commercial equipment procurement has been slow.

In addition to regional differences, shipment channels have also been adjusted, IDC said. Manufacturers and channel vendors are paying more attention to online live broadcasts, short video e-commerce, corporate procurement e-commerce and other diversified customer acquisition methods.

In the second half of the year, there are still two major uncertainties in the commercial market. One is the recovery speed of the economic environment, and the other is the degree of progress in digital transformation of new formats such as online services and collaborative offices. IDC added that the acceleration of digital transformation will inevitably lead to a decrease in print volume. Because the digital transformation of enterprises will promote the paperless process, traditional printing requirements such as online approval of all processes and online cross-regional meetings may be affected, which will result in print volume reduction in the commercial market.

The thermal printer market is facing greater risks this year. The latest document issued by the State Council requires that “by the end of 2020, special VAT invoices will be basically realised electronically, and the main tax-related services will be basically handled online”. As local tax authorities accelerate the process of upgrading public service platforms for VAT electronic invoices, the application scenarios of printing bills on devices will shrink sharply. IDC expects annual shipments to decline by approximately 28.9% year-on-year.

IDC Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions Market Analyst Cao Min believes that manufacturers and distributors should be more cautious in formulating production and sales plans for the second half of the year. On the one hand, with the traditional off-season in July and August, the pace of thermal printer sales has slowed down significantly, and the inventory turnover cycle of distributors has been lengthened. It is necessary to prevent the risk of inventory backlog.

On the other hand, as the overseas pandemic has not been effectively controlled, and the COVID-19 outbreaks have been repeated in some parts of the country, manufacturers need to make preparations for “anti-pandemic normalisation”, optimise supply chain and sales management, and develop flexible supply and marketing plans.

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