INSTANT INK REFILLS A VIABLE SOLUTION ?
INSTANT INK REFILLS A VIABLE SOLUTION ?
2006-03-22 at 12:11:00 pm #15238
Are Instant Inkjet Refills a Viable Solution for Retail?
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
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.
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