Cautious Optimism Amid Critical Concern as Office Print Industry Weighs the Impact of COVID-19


Quocirca research tracks the impact of COVID-19 on the office print sector

Thursday 9 April 2020: The office print industry and its channel are battling to understand and respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the majority saying the crisis has had a critical or significant impact on their business. Nevertheless, the sector recognises that the rapid shift in working practices is likely to accelerate paper-digital transformation and may offer opportunities to deliver a broader range of services in future.  

Quocirca conducted an online snapshot survey among print industry professionals worldwide* between 31 March and 7 April, to build a picture of experiences and sentiment across the sector.

Key findings:

  • Major market disruption.  66% state that the crisis has already had a significant impact on their business to date, a further 3% say impact has been critical.  Overall, almost half (48%) strongly agree that COVID-19 will cause significant and continuous market disruption.
  • Cost cutting implemented, projects and investments paused. 77% have cut costs, 14% indicate that they have made staff redundancies. 59% have paused or cancelled major projects or investments
  • The channel needs help from suppliers. 61% of channel respondents are looking for extended/flexible payment terms from suppliers. 55% need more information on supply chain updates.
  • Print volumes decline except in healthcare and government sectors. 70% are seeing or expect significant decline in print volumes overall, with a further 22% seeing a marginal decline. However, 47% are seeing increased demand from healthcare customers and 28% are seeing increased demand in government organisations.
  • Cautious optimism for recovery. 21% of respondents are cautiously optimistic that their business could return to normal in less than 3 months. 23% say 3-6 months and 35% expect it to take 6 to 12 months.  21% expect it to take longer or do not believe that there will a ‘business as usual’.
  • Operating models will have to change.  57% state that they will need to change their operating model going forward.  48% state that they will be bringing new products and/or services to market to help customers prepare for similar events in future.
  • An opportunity for innovation. Overall, 79% believe COVID-19 presents an opportunity to drive new product and service innovation.

Commenting on the survey findings, Quocirca Director Louella Fernandes said: “The office print industry and channel is in an uncertain state of flux. This early benchmark reflects the immediate decisions that businesses have been forced to make around changes in their own working practices – 61% say all staff are now working from home – and plans for investments and projects; the office print industry has pressed pause on those for the present.

“Channel companies are clearly keen to receive both financial support and a good flow of information from vendors. 61% are hoping for monetary measures such as extended payment terms, 39% need credit flexibility and the same percentage would like to see advance rebates. 55% seek more detailed information about any supply chain issues and 9% would like tailored guidance from their vendors.”

In terms of government support, the majority (64%) say the measures introduced in their region have helped mitigate the initial impact of the outbreak, with 20% saying they have helped a lot.

Print volumes decline

Print volumes have unsurprisingly declined across the majority of verticals, with the exception of the frontline response sectors of healthcare and government. “Many companies will pivot quickly to digital processes, accelerating paper-digital transformation through necessity,” comments Louella. “However, it will be interesting to see how the frontline government and healthcare sectors – currently still heavily print-dependent - will prioritise the shift from paper to digital once the initial crisis is past.”

Looking forward to future growth areas

There was some optimism among respondents. One fifth (21%) could see general opportunities for their business and 79% thought it could be a chance to drive product and service innovations.

Print industry professionals expect to see a sharp rise in demand for collaboration and cloud services as a result of the pandemic. 92% predict increased demand for collaboration tools such as videoconferencing, while 89% expect cloud-based digital workflows will be in demand. Similar expectations exist around the digitisation of paper-based processes and provisioning of printers for home working.

At present, Managed Print Services look set to be the loser, with 38% predicting demand for it will fall. However, businesses should not overlook the potential of wrapping home-printing provision into MPS contracts, particularly in the light of security concerns: 86% of respondents said their customers were concerned about the security risks of home printing.

Louella concludes: “The print industry’s resilience and innovative heritage is reflected in the way respondents are seeing potential in the midst of uncertainty. One of their top three concerns for the future is understanding changes in customer needs, indicating that they are already thinking about how to pivot to serve clients in a new environment.

“We are also seeing the breadth of technology expertise demonstrated in the direct responses offered by many vendors. From shifting manufacturing facilities to ventilator production to 3D printing of PPE and components, the industry is rising to this defining challenge we face.”

The full research findings are available at:

The second Quocirca survey is now open at: 

Survey details:

*Quocirca received 90 completed responses, 33% from OEMs, 56% from channel organisations and 11% from ISVs. Overall, 65% of respondents were from organisations with fewer than 1,000 employees.  44% of respondents were from European organisations, 27% from the US and 29% from other regions.

About Quocirca:

Quocirca is a global market insight and research firm providing strategic market analysis and intelligence to print industry business and technology leaders. Quocirca specialises in analysing the convergence of print and digital technologies in the future workplace.

Since 2006, Quocirca has played an influential role in advising clients on major shifts in the market. Our consulting and research is at the forefront of the rapidly evolving print services and solutions market, trusted by clients who are seeking new strategies to address disruptive technologies.

Trusted by global industry organisations, Quocirca offers a wealth of specialist knowledge across the connected print ecosystem. Our extensive research activities are backed up with rigorous analysis and a robust primary research programme.