Are technology bundles all they’re made out to be? Here’s what a number of the sector’s suppliers had to say on the topic.
Everyone wants a great deal. So what’s the best way to get one? Package deals are there for the taking when it comes to investment in new production technology, so is that the best option for you - or for your supplier?
Let’s be clear from the off - if you have money to spend, any savvy supplier will try and get you to spend it with them, many by offering ‘bundles’ of products at ‘competitive’ prices. These may be off-the-shelf or bespoke tailored packages. They may be formed from one manufacturer’s product portfolio or from across a range of technology providers. Indeed, CMYUK MD Robin East says ‘bundling’ accounts for around 30% of its sales. Josero sales and marketing director Steve Collins goes as far as saying most of its offerings are package deals. So what’s the big attraction - just price?
“There is generally a price advantage,” says East. “Manufacturers will quite often give a single price for all these bundled accessories, which will be a significant discount than buying them individually.
“So, with Esko Kongsberg digital cutting tables for example, our Esko manager Nick Reed built the X-24 starter bundle. That’s not a bundle anymore (we’ve changed it - back then it was specifically inclusive of a number of tools - a business in a box all for £90k and you wouldn’t need anything else), but it shows that when you do this type of thing, you’ll tend to find that the manufacturers give you a collected volume based discount on the additional parts, so everyone down the food chain benefits from it,” outlines East.
He adds: “Within the pyramid of UK print production companies there’s a huge variation of capacity and application requirements. We have been careful to select a portfolio of versatile equipment, but versatile products have a vast range of sometimes complex and additional components that help them create solutions for specific applications. As an experienced equipment provider we understand how to group those components for specific market solutions. Our gift is also being able to understand and interpret the differing needs of all the company groups working within the pyramid.
In clarification East says: “A bundle is really about delivering a collective specification that we know fits a certain type of person, or a certain kind of business. Bundling is all about having a good supplier who understands where to start in terms of specifications. A good supplier understands what the customer wants. When someone comes to buy a cutting table for example, they genuinely wouldn’t build the specification of what they want themselves. We have highly experienced people who help with that.
“With a lot of equipment you tend to find there are multiple accessories available. Customers might know some of these accessories well, but they wouldn’t know how to create what we call a ‘build’. We can create a specification that’s inclusive of all the parts and additions that they need, and we’ll just bundle that into a template offering.
“We definitely do quite a bit of bundling with Esko. Everybody that is buying a digital cutting table will need a drag knife and they will need a router. You can bundle a set of tools and a build quite effectively on that, but then the customer might say, ‘Oh by the way we cut two inch thick polyester foam as well as we make protective boxes for cameras’.
“It’s a good place to start with a bundle because fundamentally you know that that there is a tool set that customers are definitely going to need, and so you’ll bundle those. With our EFI territory as well, we know that there are core things common to all so we’ll bundle those.”
At Josero Collins points out that a ‘bundle’ may be “a printer and software, printer/cutter and software, printer/cutter/laminator and software. As we are an official service provider for our suppliers, we are able to include competitive extended warranties and on-going maintenance contracts with our bundles too. Market knowledge, product knowledge and experience of which products complement each other is key to offering the right customer the right bundle.”
So has he noticed any specific trend? “Typically new start-up companies will favour a bundle as they are starting from scratch and buying several products at one time is attractive when buying from one supplier and keeping the finance under one roof. But everyone is up for a deal if buying multiple products and there is ample room to do this, especially at the higher end of the product range.
“Software is a big focus these days as customers need to save hours in the day and increase production. Textile printing bundles are becoming of more interest too. A prime example of an off-the-shelf bundle would be the Mimaki print and cut bundle, with or without a laminator, but we work with other options too. Most bundles are possible, it’s just a matter of being creative. And, customers want piece of mind knowing they are well looked after by a trusted service provider for their on-going service and support requirements as well as initial purchase.”
Brett Newman, chief operations manager a Hybrid Services - Mimaki’s exclusive distributor for the UK and Ireland, adds: “Yes! It’s all about offering a choice. Mimaki packages are available throughout the UK and Ireland through Hybrid’s authorised reseller partners, and are attractive to customers of all types and sizes. Be it an entry level solvent printer coupled with a matching cutter or a direct to textile Mimaki TX300 printer with matching Rimslow finishing equipment, we encounter companies with varying requirements for whom we can offer a perfectly matched solution.”
So coming back to cost, what does he say to those who think companies may only recommend ‘bundles’ that makes them the most money? “It’s often the case that thanks to Mimaki’s breadth of technology and the opportunity for our reseller partners to offer a solution from a single brand, it works out better value for customers to purchase a package such as a JV300 Plus printer and CG-FXII Plus cutter, making a substantial saving when compared to purchasing them separately,” says Newman.
He adds: “Cost can influence why customers opt for a combination package but it’s not always the case. The ability to choose a particular workflow or method of production that creates efficiencies is often the deciding factor. One such example is when we package the Mimaki 3DFF-222 3D printer along with a Mimaki UJF-MkII LED UV printer with the primary benefit being the ability to produce jigs in-house for custom printing.
In the wide-format space Newman says the most popular bundle is the Mimaki JV300-Plus with a Mimaki CG-FXII Plus cutter and a Mimaki LA-160 laminator - “the ultimate high production package for any sign, graphics and display supplier”.
“Everyone wants a cheaper price but does not want the loss of quality and usability, and there is point where this is not possible,” sums up John Draycott, marketing manager at ArtSystems. “Our product teams work with the manufacturers and resellers, and feedback market requests. But put simply, all bundles lead with a value/use ratio. In the end the user needs to make a decision as to the best split. We’d never recommend a bundle to a reseller that did not meet to needs of the user.
“In our sector right now the bundles in demand tend to be for an entry-level roll-fed cutter with printer. We also have a growing requirement for grand-format bespoke bundles, driven by HP Latex R series with Summa F series.
“The user has to decide what really matters, the upfront cost or the longer term value created by the investment and how quick he can realise that. If a reseller ensures good service and support but costs more, does this work out better than a cheaper bundle?