*NEWS*INSTANT REFILLS A VIABLE SOLUTION ?
*NEWS*INSTANT REFILLS A VIABLE SOLUTION ?
2006-03-22 at 12:09:00 pm #15009
Are Instant Inkjet Refills a Viable Solution for Retail?
March 2006,There is a huge debate happening right now in regards to instant inkjet refills and if they can survive in the retail market. The sale of inkjet refills is on the rise, but the trend will be short-lived. Refilled inkjet cartridges have always been considered inferior to OEM cartridges in terms of quality, and the process of refilling them is messy. Retail refill shops and kiosks eliminate the mess but quality is still an issue that is not completely resolved.
Refill shops like Cartridge World and Cartridge Caboodle have stormed across America, and consumers are taking in their inks to be refilled because they like the lower price points. Cartridge World refills the consumer’s ink while they wait; it takes about 30 minutes. Cartridge Caboodle replaces consumers’ empty cartridges with newly refilled ones, so the consumer doesn’t have to wait at all. I have an extremely hard time believing that a cartridge can be refilled in 30 minutes and still provide an output that will match the OEM inks. Even if the output is mediocre I paid good money for that original cartridge and I want the same quality even if the price is half.
One of the biggest challenges that OEMs will face this year is refill kiosks at retail stores. Walgreens is putting in 1,500 refill kiosks this March, while Office Depot and OfficeMax are both test-marketing their own refill systems. When I heard that Walgreens was putting in refill kiosks my first question was, Why, Who would refill a cartridge at a drug store? A drug store does not seem to be the prime location for inkjet cartridge refills. I believe Walgreens is going to have to heavily promote its refill kiosk to draw consumers into the store.
The mere promotion of the refill kiosk will hurt the OEMs because it will inform consumers that there are additionally options to buying a cartridge, specifically ones backed by retailers. Retailers have the ability to sway consumers’ minds because they stand behind the products they offer. The promotional efforts by retailers for the refill kiosks will cause OEMs to rethink their pricing strategies.
Using a refilled cartridge or a compatible cartridge is an experience everyone needs to try at least once in their life to see if it’s for you or not. It’s like buying anything that has a cheaper price, you do it to save money but in the long run you learn it’s not worth the savings. The refilled cartridge works best for the user who is only printing text and has no plans to print pictures. Right now only the OEMs are providing longevity claims over 100+ years and backing their inks and papers to provide a lifetime of enjoyment.
Take me for example, I like the expensive hair shampoo because my hair has more volume it smells better and just all around works better for me. When I use the less expensive shampoo at the drug store I just can’t seem to make my hair look its best. That’s the difference between a refilled cartridge and an OEM cartridge. The refilled cartridge may do the job but the OEM ink provides the better end result time and time again.
My issues are not with compatible cartridges but more with the instant refill process. A lot of technology and money goes into developing an OEM cartridge, so the refiller needs to understand the technology and the ink. Refilling a cartridge in 30 minutes or less makes me question quality. Some aftermarket companies take the necessary time to provide a viable alternative to OEM inks. On the other hand, instantly refilled cartridges do not provide a long-term solution unless they can offer consistent, high-quality output.
Consumer Reports tested off brand inks and found that aftermarket inks don’t really save consumers much money and the quality varies dramatically by manufacturer.
Quality will determine the success of instant refills. If retail stores can provide consistent, high-quality refills in 30 minutes or less, then OEMs need to prepare for devastating losses in ink sales. However, I do not believe that we will not see that day in this decade. OEMs continue to take significant steps in ink output and their inks and processes are patented so tightly that there is little room for anyone else to even come close to matching the OEM inks. The instant refill will be an ephemeral fad that will fade when consumers return to the OEMs for the best prints.