Consumers and businesses love products that serve multiple purposes. Similar to how smartphones replaced point-and-shoot cameras and “dumb” cell phones, the all-in-one inkjet will quickly replace the inkjet SFP in consumer channels. In the print industry, evidence from gap intelligence and a number of other research firms suggests that multi-function device sales are growing, while SFP sales are either flat or declining. This is due to a number of factors including a growing preference for multiple functions, the ability to save space, wider availability in consumer channels, and a greater share of advertisements.
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Why Have One When One Can Have it All?
The multi-functionality offered by AiOs meets requirements for most copy/scan/fax workflows, especially in consumer segments. In addition to offering these functions, AiOs save desk space. In March, the average footprint of inkjet AiOs in consumer channels was only 28% larger than SFPs.
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Product Mix is Changing in US Channels
While the number of inkjet SFPs available in online and retail channels has not changed considerably in recent years, inkjet AiO placements have demonstrated double-digit growth. Data sourced from gap intelligence’s Personal & SOHO Printers Reports indicate that there were 25% more inkjet AiO placements in US channels in Q1 2016 compared to the same period two years ago. Meanwhile, the number of inkjet SFPs has declined by 2% during that time. Therefore, AiOs have a much larger share of channel placements (87% share in 1Q16), providing customers with more options and wider availability.
The Ever-Shrinking Retail Shelf…
Although overall inkjet SFP placements are relatively stable in online channels, inkjet SFP placements are most vulnerable within the retail channel. Ongoing reductions in brick-and-mortar footprints are causing stronger competition for shelf share, and this is threatening the less-prioritized SFPs. The chart below shows retail placements on a per-SKU-per-store basis (i.e. if a printer is at Best Buy and that same printer is at Office Depot, then it counts as two placements). Over the past two years, inkjet SFP shelf share has experienced incremental declines (-2 percentage points), giving way to AiOs (+2 percentage points). Given that printer manufacturers want to maximize returns on each and every shelf placement, it is expected that inkjet AiO placements will continue to grow at the expense of inkjet SFPs.
SFP Advertisements are Down
While placements for inkjet SFPs are only down slightly in retail, ad counts for these devices have drastically declined over the past five years. In 2015, manufacturers published only 51 inkjet SFP ads compared to 2,126 inkjet AiO ads, representing only 2% of total inkjet advertisements. Ads for inkjet SFPs decreased by a significant 32% compared to 2014, when manufacturers published 75 SFP ads. Meanwhile, inkjet AiO ad counts are up by 14% during the same period, further demonstrating a shift in manufacturer investments toward multi-function inkjets.
While placement trends for inkjet SFPs have been relatively stable in recent years, it is no secret that total placements are skewed toward AiOs. This expansion of the AiO market provides more diversity and wider availability to customers. Meanwhile, inkjet advertisements are increasingly allocated toward AiOs, giving these devices greater visibility and more promotional incentives compared to SFPs. These factors, along with growing favor for multi-functionality, will contribute to an ongoing decline of SFP sales.