Digging Deeper: A Close Look At Print Audit's 2017 Printing Statistics And Why You Should Be Concerned

From Print Audit's 2017 Industry Printing Statistics BI Dashboard

From Print Audit's 2017 Industry Printing Statistics BI Dashboard

It’s not always easy getting industry statistics for the office equipment channel, unless you want to pay for them.  The good news is that Print Audit  produces a regular series of office printing statistics that cover devices, users and document types.  And they publish this incredible information for FREE!  As an assessment expert I’m always looking for new information to help my dealer-customers to do better assessments.  

The latest set of numbers to come out of Print Audit covers office printing statistics and yearly comparisons for 2015, 2016, and 2017.  You can access that report HERE.  It does a great job of laying out the numbers and trends.  I wanted to dig deeper and get more of the story these numbers are telling, so I reached out to the author to do just that.  Here is that interview:

West McDonald, VP of Business Development, Print Audit

West McDonald, VP of Business Development, Print Audit

Mike Lamothe: Thanks for the taking the time to talk today West.  I’ve been following Print Audit’s industry printing statistics blogs for a few years now, they are an awesome resource for us at DOCassess. Thank you for the opportunity to dig a bit deeper.

West McDonald: My pleasure Mike.  The blogs we put out around device, user and document printing statistics are always our most widely read.  We produce them a couple of times a year when enough data has been generated to warrant a new one.

Mike Lamothe: Let’s dive right in.  The report states that average job sizes haven’t changed much in 3 years, roughly 3 to 4 pages per average job.  When I’m helping dealers to conduct managed print assessments the first thing many go after is the smaller printers.  Do these numbers support consolidating all the smaller printers?

West McDonald: Yeah, the average job size numbers surprised me too.  They are much smaller than I would have expected.  I also would have expected to see them get bigger over time and they haven’t.  The clear message is that convenience printing is alive and well.  I think dealers need to really chew on that because they could be losing opportunities to those that are paying attention.

Average Pages Per Vertical

Average Pages Per Vertical

Mike Lamothe: Okay, but MFDs, as a rule, are a much more economical way to produce pages, even if the job sizes are small.

West McDonald: True, yes.  I think the numbers tell us that cost isn’t the only issue for customers.  If users get frustrated waiting in line for their job, if paper trays are filling up because of people not collecting them, well, the low cost might lose out to more convenience via distributed printing.  The key thing is to make sure the customer knows all the facts, let them make the best decision for their company.  No right or wrong, just information to help customers make more informed decisions.

Mike Lamothe:  Yes, I get what you’re saying. That’s why we do assessments in the first place, to help dealers win more deals by crafting more accurate solutions.  Okay next point I want to dig deeper on: Duplex numbers are WAY up in 2017.  From around 20% up to 31%.  Why such a dramatic rise?

West McDonald: Great, ask me a question I can’t answer!  Yes, it is amazing.  If I were to hazard a guess I would say it’s for a number of reasons combined, no single point.  First, that device manufacturers are making it easier to select duplex when printing a job.  Second, cost. Although CPP rates are dropping through the floor, paper costs remain static and sometimes even increase.  So customers are making an active effort to use less paper.  Third, I think managed print providers are actually making a difference!

Duplex Printing % and Average Job size

Duplex Printing % and Average Job size

Mike Lamothe: Yeah, one of the first things I train dealers to do is make their customers aware of how money they can save just on physical paper by duplexing more.

West McDonald:  It seems to be working!  I do the same thing, it’s an easy one for dealers to use for “hard cost” savings.  Add to that fact that most of them aren’t selling the paper they have nothing to lose.

Mike Lamothe:  One last area to dig in on West, and this one is really important.  Color volumes haven’t changed much in the last few years but color revenue has dropped through the floor.  What’s going on here, the numbers don’t seem to jive.

West McDonald:  On the surface the numbers don’t seem to jive until you realize one thing: Color volume is static while color CPP rates have plummeted.  9 cents to 7 cents to 5 cents a page.  I’ve heard some examples of 3 cent color.

Mike Lamothe: People thought low cost color was supposed to save the industry, that people were going to print everything in color once the price point came down.

West McDonald: Our numbers don’t support that.  People simply aren’t printing more color volume regardless of price point.  Maybe that will change, but for now, it’s having a huge negative  impact on revenue per user.  Color revenue in 2015 made up 42% of total spend.  In 2017 color spend was only 10% of total spend.  Those are the numbers unfortunately.

Mike Lamothe:  I wish we could continue but I know we’re running out of time.

West McDonald: Yeah, we’ve got a lot more digging to do to tell the whole story.  Maybe I’ll do a podcast on it if you’ll be one of my guests?

Mike Lamothe: Absolutely West!  Thanks for your time, and looking forward to talking more about these numbers offline. Any final words for the dealer community?

West McDonald:  The numbers are out there, make use of them.  In my sales career for MPS in the past I used numbers and assessments to win more deals.  Knowledge is power, and power can be converted to dollars.

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