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N Sambamoorthy gives his take on Epson products in the Indian market :Interview

Sambamoorthy Senior GM Epson

The name Epson is synonymous with digital imaging solutions like printers, scanners and similar devices. Techshout (TS) spoke to N Sambamoorthy (NS), Senior General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Epson India about the company’s position in the Indian market and their upcoming plans that will help augment Epson’s market share in future.

TS: Can you elaborate on the operations of Epson India?

NS: Epson India Pvt. Ltd. was incorporated in the year 2000. Present in every major city in the country, Epson products address not only the needs of the entire computer peripheral market, but also consumers with specialized needs. Epson’s success in India is a measure of its understanding of the Indian consumer. Headquartered in Bangalore, Epson India today has an enviable reputation for quality and value.

In a short time, Epson India has created a strong reputation for quality and reliability. Epson Dot-Matrix Printers enjoy a market share of approximately 52 percent, Inkjet Printers 19 percent, Point of Sale systems 55 percent and Projectors 12 percent. In all these categories, Epson is either the No.1 or No.2 brand and growing fast. Epson India is growing at 10-15% annually and had a turnover of Rs.303 crores in 2008-09 and hopes to close 2009-10 at about Rs.360 crores.

Epson has been present in India for a little over 10 years now and during this time we have grown in leaps and bounds. A lot of groundwork and effort has gone into building the Epson brand in India to the position in which it is today. With a value Market share of 19.5% (as per IDC) we are a strong No. 2 in the overall printer market in India. The Epson brand is growing from strength to strength. The task therefore is now to build on this momentum. In segments where we are the clear market leader like Photo printers, Bill Printers, Projectors and Dot Matrix the task will be to further grow the market.

New audiences and new segments hence become the focus. For other segments we will be looking to more actively connect with the end consumer to convey the clear benefits of using an Epson product. Engagements therefore at different touch points will be the key. We are focused on making this happen. Simultaneously we will be looking to strengthen and expand our already strong and robust channel and conduct focused and high impact marketing activities.

TS: How far has the Indian consumer market changed ever since Epson entered India? Which segment does Epson India target?

NS: Well there are a lot more focus segments that have emerged over the years. For example retail, banking, photo and so on and so forth. Epson products provide digital imaging solutions for every one, including home & office users, photo-professionals and digital labs. From personal desktop products to those that can be networked across large organizations, Epson offers solutions suited for different types of users in various work environments.

From faster printers for offices to photo-printers and hi-resolution scanners for photo-professionals and studios. From wireless LCD projectors for corporates on the move to high-speed intelligent printers for smooth retail billing. Solutions that make life easier, more convenient and less time-consuming. Worldwide, Epson is renowned for setting market-defining standards. Epson leads the way in developing technologies that meet customer needs, delivering products that are unique, useful and powerful.

Epson’s technologies centre around three significant facets, the color imaging and information equipment business which provides total digital solutions based on color technologies, the energy and other resource saving electronic device business, and the micromechatronics technology field that Epson has evolved from its watch manufacturing business.

In India, the range of Epson products include,

Inkjet Printers.
Photo Printers.
Inkjet All in Ones.
Dot Matrix Printers.
Professional Graphics Printers.
Point of Sale Printers (POS).
Laser Printers.

TS: With technology incorporated in printers and scanners advancing at a really fast pace, what novel innovations can we expect from Epson in 2010?

NS: Lots of fantastic new product introductions planned for 2010. Just to give you a few examples. A one of its kind, innovative remote controlled Digital Photo Frame which can print! The PictureMate 315 will be launched in February 2010 and will be a worthy successor to the hugely successful PictureMate models currently available. In January we have just launched the DM3 All in One Home theater projector. This combines a DVD player, speakers and a 3 LCD projector into one single unit. This product is a first of its kind and the response already has been tremendous.

We have just launched the Epson Picture Viewer P6000 and P7000 which are the World’s most premium Quality Multimedia Viewer and Storage Device for all those photography professionals who look forward to on-the-go large capacity storage and high quality review of their shots. With regard to photo and graphics printing I would like to give 2 recent examples of fantastic innovative product introductions for Epson. The first of these is the Stylus Photo TX700W, – an award winning wireless, all-in-one, 6-color photo printer that empowers multiple photo-enthusiasts to print their masterpieces from anywhere in the home by virtue of being Wi-Fi enabled.The Stylus Photo TX700W is a winner of the highly acclaimed International Forum (iF) Design Awards in 2009.

The International Forum Design is an independent institution which is highly revered globally as a window on the latest technological developments and trends. The new printer is high on style and positioned as the perfect home printer for amateur photographers and more experienced D-SLR photographers who appreciate such style and aesthetics. Another recent product introduction is the high end pro graphic GS 6000 printer. This printer marks Epson’s entry into the signage market for both indoor and outdoor applications. With incredible quality outputs using odorless inks this is truly a revolutionary printer for the segment. Both these products open up new segments for us and once again display our strength in innovation and quality.

TS: How bright do you think is the future of touchscreen printers in India?

NS: Touchscreen has only recently been introduced in printers. It will be some time before this feature is commonly available in all printers.

TS: Besides printers and scanners, does Epson plan to augment their product portfolio to other categories?

NS: While Epson is more commonly known for its printers, a surprising fact that is still not known to all is that Epson is World’s No. 1 projector brand. In 2008 Epson had a market share of 20.8% worldwide making it the No. 1 brand for the 8th year in a row. The brand in second position had a market share of only 11%. So projectors are another very important segment for Epson.

TS: Do you plan to expand customer service in India?

NS: Epson is acknowledged as the de-facto standard when it comes to Service within the printer category. Independent as well as internal research commissioned and tracked regularly by us has shown this. We work hard now to maintain and improve the benchmark we have set. We currently have 187 service centers in 154 cities across the country which means our service is not just excellent it is available in every nook and corner of the country.

TS: Which is the most popular Epson product in the Indian market?

NS: Its difficult to pinpoint a single product however a recent success story among the many for Epson India has been the PictureMate photo printer. In India a typical small photo lab is to be found at every second street corner. More so in the recent past with the advent of digital cameras and photo printers. Earlier setting up a small photo lab required a substantial investment which was often beyond the reach of the lay person. The small lab also had no printing facility and hence was obliged to get the prints done for customers at the nearest bigger lab.

The PictureMate changed all this. With the introduction of the PictureMate these small lab owners were instantly able to see a clear benefit for their business. The Epson PictureMate being a PC Less photo printer allowed for the initial investment to be extremely affordable with just the printer and a digital camera. Furthermore with a clear benefit of instant prints the newly empowered photo lab now had the option to charge a generous premium for this service allowing therefore for substantial profits.

For the studio owner it also helped save considerable time and money that he would usually spend in order to get the photos developed at the nearest large photo studio, not to mention the immense empowerment and flexibility it brought to him. These benefits made the Epson PictureMate a huge opportunity for rural entrepreneurship and also interestingly presented itself as a unique business model for photographers who earn their living by clicking pictures at various tourist spots. Today (in addition to the small photo labs), thousands of tourist photographers at most tourist spots across the country are doing brisk business with their digital camera and PictureMatev.