Key To Larger Large-Format Margins Is Explaining Options To End Users
End users often don't realize potential of large-format scanning systems.
Business Solutions, February 1998
Reprographics: A Growing U.S. Market
"The only drawback currently in scan-to-print reprographics systems is that printer output is still slower than scanner input. But printers are getting faster all the time, so even that slight downside is disappearing," says G. Diane Mitol, Colortrac's U.S. business development manager. Colortrac is a Cambridge, U.K.-based vendor of large-format color scanners with about $5 million in annual revenues. Colortrac's U.S. headquarters is in Silver Spring, MD. "Reprographics companies that reproduce everything from high quality graphics to blueprints are a huge market for large-format scanners in Europe, and are becoming one in the United States, as well."
Cheaper Is Not Always Better
Mitol adds that many end users don't know the facts about large-format scanning systems. "Integrators often need to take end users by their hands, and show them what a system can do for them," says Mitol. "A lot of end users, for example, automatically think that higher resolution files are better. Sometimes high-resolution is necessary, but often a lower-resolution will give the graphic representation desired with much smaller file size. That's why most scanners today have selectable resolutions. By explaining this, and helping the end user set up a system where files are scanned at the resolution that is best for the customer's application, VARs are doing more than selling a commodity. They are providing a service and can charge for their time."
"In relation to this, VARs should not always be looking to sell end users scanners that are the lowest-priced. The VAR should understand the product well enough to sell the end user the scanner that is going to do the best job for his requirement. The VAR needs to sell value rather than price," says Mitol. "The appearance of a scanned image is important to an end user. If a scanner does not produce accurate colors, for example, in an application where an end user is scanning imagery or graphics, the scanner is worthless."
Volume Sellers Are Making The Margins
Resellers who understand the features of the various large-format scanners and software available are in the best position to make high margins off scanners, concludes Mitol. "VARs who sell one or two scanners a year, because an end user asks for them, are not going to make big profits off scanning systems. But resellers who understand how large-format scanners can benefit an end user, and sell those benefits are making tons of money."
End Users Want More Functions From Less Hardware
"End users don't want to buy a large-format scanner, printer and copier, if they can get away with a system where a scanner and printer can be used to make copies," says Raja Tuli, president of the WideCom Group, Inc. WideCom is a Mississauga, ON-based manufacturer of large-format scanners with $5 million in annual revenues. WideCom's U.S. offices are headquartered in Rochester, NY. "Users are looking for more functionality out of fewer machines."
Finding Additional Functions For Scanners Is Key To Margins
Tuli says that VARs who want to increase their margins on large-format scanners should take full advantage of the capabilities of scanners and large-format software when designing systems for end users. "There are three functions that large-format systems provide," says Tuli. "They can copy large-format documents. They can store and retrieve large-format documents through computer systems; and they can edit or change large-format drawings. Most users are not looking for a system that performs all three of these functions. VARs who can find places in their users' applications for as many of these functions as possible, are going to increase their margins, mainly through extra software sales."
Color Scanners Open Doors To More Sales
Tuli adds that offering end users color scanners instead of only black and white is helpful when trying to increase the scope of an application. "A lot of integrators shut themselves out of applications, and even markets, by not offering color scanners," says Tuli. "Until city government officials see their maps on a computer screen, scanned in full color, they might not have even considered a scanning system."
Tuli adds that how a scanner deals with older drawings is also an important differentiating feature among scanners. "Some companies have beat-up blueprints to old buildings that they want to scan. If a scanner can compensate for that, it means there is less cleanup work to do on the computer image after the scan. This can save the end user a lot of time," says Tuli.