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BY: ALEX SCOTT – DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT 

Imagine this scenario…

You are feeling under the weather with a throbbing headache, so you go to a supermarket and buy some paracetamol. As you check out the various brands lined up neatly side by side on the shelves, you see the branded and non-branded versions. You quickly realise the price difference is staggering, with the non-branded version being up to 75% cheaper than the branded products. They both do exactly the same job – they relieve the pain! Although the branded version will be presented in colourful (and expensive) packaging, it is not superior in any way from the nonbranded product – the only difference is price! The point here is to illustrate the stark difference between the two products, based on perception. The same principle applies equally to the compatible ink cartridge market.

Compare and contrast
The digital transformation that is driving so much change, continues apace, and one business sector in particular that is undergoing colossal changes is document management. This includes  printing, copying and associated consumables, and over the past years the major printing and copier manufacturing companies are under more pressure than ever before. Added to the pandemic  induced downturn in sales, with margins wafer thin on hardware, now their consumables products, which has been the golden goose of their revenue stream for decades, is being hit hard as well.

Although consumables have been slowly declining in recent years, printer ink and cartridge sales are worth nearly $45billion to a handful of manufacturers and the markup they have enjoyed is extraordinary. However, an increase in alternative, cheaper consumable supplies is starting to take off, which only adds to the revenue pressures on the manufacturers, but benefits users. For  many years, manufacturers successfully took aggressive legal action, spending many millions of dollars, to protect their own brands against cheaper and more often than not, inferior products.  This has now changed. Taking into account other considerations such as environmental issues and of course, cost, the market is now experiencing a dramatic shift away from branded products to  more cost-effective alternatives. The main driver within the consumables sector is cheaper ink cartridges, also known as Compatible Cartridges.

What are Compatible Cartridges?
Compatible cartridges are normally made by specialists in cost effective printer ink production and are significantly cheaper than the OEM equivalent. When a cartridge is identified as ‘compatible’, it means it will work with the printer it has been designed to fit. There is now a wide range of products available, with very competitive pricing. If you are seeking a cheaper alternative  to branded products, then there is a growing market to choose from. To underline the impact of the growth in this sector, a well-known price comparison organisation ran a comparison  survey in this area with more than 8,000 users, to identify what brands they favoured. Unsurprisingly, the highest-rated printer ink brands were all third-party suppliers – the cheaper  alternatives!

Printer and copier manufacturers would of course much rather you use their printer ink in their printers, however, compatible printer inks now offer the same quality of printing as big brand names, but at a much lower cost. If your company has a fleet of printers or copiers, the savings will be enormous if you use the cheaper products. To demonstrate the gulf between the two ends of the price spectrum, one compatible ink manufacturer was up to 86% cheaper than ink supplied from a high-profile branded cartridge range (a well-known household name). Just because they are cheaper doesn’t mean the quality is sacrificed or compromised – in fact quite the opposite is true!

It’s a straight swap
Naturally, there is still a degree of caution and even scepticism about using cheaper inks, but this is changing quickly. Remanufactured cartridges can be used as direct replacements for the ones originally supplied by your printer manufacturer. For those who doubt their effectiveness, today’s products come with quality guarantees. They are ISO approved, so you know you’re getting comparable quality of ink. For additional peace of mind, suppliers will provide a two-year warranty and full money-back satisfaction guarantee and most importantly, your printer warranty will  not be invalidated. Apart from the cost element, there is always a need to consider the environmental impact. An additional benefit for the use of compatible ink cartridges is that they are more  environmentally beneficial, as they reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. In fact, by reducing the manufacturing process, you’re preventing around three pounds of plastic and metal  going to waste each time you buy one.

Some suppliers are also offering a service that for every time you recycle an empty inkjet or toner cartridge with them, they will send it for remanufacturing. Business is changing rapidly at the  minute, and it is difficult to keep up with a permanently shifting landscape. This is where external advice is critical. Maybe now is the time to consider reviewing your document management costs.

Auditel has a team of Document Management specialists who can advise companies on all aspects of the often-misunderstood cost category of document management, printing and copying.

To find out more about how Auditel can help you unlock hidden cash and put it back into your control contact us……. Click here