The Epson story in Kenya started in 2011 when they set up an office here. I had a chat with Epson’s Regional Sales Manager (East Africa), Mr. Mukesh Bector about Epson’s journey in Kenya and what the future looks like for them.
Take us through the Epson journey in the beginning.
We started with just one distributor so when we started out, we faced the usual challenges of breaking into a new market. We’ve since gotten many more and we’re currently on the journey towards getting more distributors and resellers. We’re also currently planning for an expansion spree so that we have more members of staff and bigger office space so that we have our own showroom.
Which products are well received?
We have a very strong dotmatrix presence in Kenya. Our Dotmatrix printers are actually No. 1 selling worldwide since 1996. Our office solutions are also quite well received in Kenya. We have also won a sizeable tender to supply projectors under the recently signed mandate by ICT authority for the Ministry of Education and JKUAT Universty to supply to schools. Our initial rollout under this program will be projectors to 100 schools.
When did Epson brand really establish itself in the market?
We set up the office in 2011 but even before that we were operating through distributors with support from the South African office. So, 2011 was not the beginning but sales improved tremendously because finally there was a face to the brand in Kenya. Epson had already seen potential in this country.
What is the future like for Epson in Kenya?
Bright! We want to introduce some very good and technologically advanced products into the market, geared to increase productivity. For example, there’s a new printer coming that can print 75,000 pages with just one tank. We’ll have 3D projectors, and interactive projectors where one can use interactive pens. There are some interactive projectors that users can even use a finger.
What is ITS, what’s its popularity and is the plan to do away with cartridges?
ITS (Ink Tank System) is very popular due to low cost of printing to the consumer. Cartridges will get obsolete yes and in Kenya we don’t even sell them for the consumer market any more.
How big of a problem is counterfeiting and how does Epson deal with it?
Counterfeiting is a global problem which is not unique to just Epson. We deal with it through extensive and continuous user education. The problem is still big on our side though especially in our ribbons.
Other than printers and projectors, what other products does Epson have in Kenya?
A lot. We have high resolution scanners that are very good for photographers, office document scanners upto A3. These will do high speed double sided scanning. We have the disc producer whereby users can scan documents, save them to disc and even label that disk. In short it will scan, compress, burn to CD and label. These are not mass market and are mostly used for archiving in places like hospitals, schools.
We also have laser and point of sale printers, direct to garment printers, large scale printers for branding solutions like vehicle wrapping and special printers for labels, stickers, baggage tags, boarding passes, and Bluetooth portable receipt printers among others.
What makes Epson projectors stand out?
Technology. We have invested a lot in technology, for example the 3LCD, an Epson technology that we well chips to other companies.
Any CSR projects you’re involved in?
We’ve done a few things though we’re not loud about it. We’ve sponsored clean ups in Kibera and Westlands. We also worked at a place in Tanzania called Kondoa – a UNESCO heritage site to preserve the art. Photographers are also using Epson printers to print on natural paper made by local women.