How offices buy print is changing. Print-as-a-service is rising, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Quocirca’s Print 2025 Spotlight Report, Digitisation: The Key to SMB Success, states that by 2025 more than half (55%) of SMBs would rather invest in print-as-a-service than use their own devices. With these changing preferences comes real opportunity for managed print services (MPS) providers to increase their revenue and grow their business.
In this article, we answer the questions that most commonly come up when talking about this emerging business model.
What is print-as-a-service?
Print-as-a-service (PraaS) is a type of MPS and the logical next step for the space. The main difference between traditional MPS and PraaS is that with PraaS the print device itself is included in the ongoing monthly fee paid by the customer. It’s the same concept as a mobile phone contract, i.e. you get the device for free and pay a monthly subscription that includes the device and an allowance.
Traditional MPS looks like this. The office customer buys or leases a printer or multifunction device. Then they sign a service contract pertaining to that device. Equipment monitoring, consumables, parts, maintenance and overall management of the customer’s print environment are all included in the contract, bundled together into one ongoing monthly fee.
With PraaS, equipment monitoring, consumables, parts, maintenance, overall management of the customer’s print environment AND the device itself are bundled into the fee. The customer doesn’t buy or lease any print equipment and all the assets they use sit on the provider’s balance sheet rather than theirs. In essence, PraaS is pure service.
Are traditional MPS and PraaS billed differently?
Traditional MPS and PraaS are typically billed the same way: on a per-printed-page basis (cost-per-page or CPP).
So, with traditional MPS, consumables, support, maintenance and equipment monitoring are bundled into the CPP price. The customer then gets a page allowance per month, similar to a call/data allowance with a phone.
PraaS simply includes the printer or copier as part of the CPP price.
However, there is increasing interest among MPS providers in moving from CPP to per-user or seat-based billing (SBB). Have a read of our previous article for more on this. Since PraaS is part of the continued convergence of office print and IT services, and SBB originates in IT, it will be interesting to see whether SBB becomes the billing model of choice for PraaS.
What are the benefits of print-as-a-service for end customers?
The headline benefit of PraaS for end customers is getting easy and affordable access to the latest technology. There’s no upfront purchase cost for devices and none of the usual costs or headaches associated with ownership. Everything goes on one invoice. It means print-related expenditures are predictable and easier to manage. And when the time comes for a replacement or upgrade, this is likely to occur seamlessly and with minimal disruption.
But PraaS is not just about customers getting the latest tech. It’s also about them getting an ideal fit for their office environment and printing needs without having to compare printers, sort through specs or worry about prices. With traditional MPS, they have to determine all this for themselves. With PraaS, you’re effectively designing their entire print environment for them.
What are the benefits of print-as-a-service for providers?
With PraaS you can charge a much higher per-page price and make a lot more money than in circumstances where your customer already owns the machine. You have full control over the fleet and can offer equipment that is not just efficient and cost-effective for your customer, but for you as well. It also makes integration with data collection agents (DCAs) a much simpler affair if you provide the machines.
Moreover, PraaS deepens the relationship between you and your customer. The model necessitates a more proximate and consultative approach to selling print, which is what modern customers are looking for. They don’t want this device or that MPS contract. They want features and solutions that enable them to work more effectively day to day.
And PraaS is a way of keeping customers, too. With a transactional printer sales model, it’s easy to lose the supplies and/or replacement business after the original sale. Even if supplies are furnished as part of an MPS contract, traditional MPS has become commoditised and it’s not hard for customers to go elsewhere. Providing the devices as part of the contract lets you to differentiate yourself from your more conservative competitors, and stay connected to your customer for the longer term.