Rahul Kumar (RK): Konica Minolta had a very good year in India...
Daisuke Mori (DM): Yes. Though it has been tough, we are doing good globally, as well as in India, especially considering the current economic condition. Even though we achieved good numbers this year, it’s not as good as it was in 2018, when we achieved 18% growth. The economic slowdown affected our sales a bit.
RK: What is your assessment of the current market?
DM: In commercial printing, we are getting new vibes from offset, but not digital. And packaging is growing because consumer goods sales have not been affected by the economic slowdown.
However, within the current economic situ- ation, investors are seeing potential in the Indian market and this is why multinational companies are investing in India. The coun- try’s population is growing and this growth will eventually create demand. The country’s standard of living is also growing.
I came to India in 2017 and in the last two years, I have seen that along with new entrants, the government has opened the mar- ket. But, unfortunately, individual spending has come down. That’s because people are getting less money in their hands. The government offered benefits to corporates by reducing taxes, but that benefit did not trickle
down to individual spenders.
Another problem faced by the industry isthe cycle of payment, which is getting bigger.
This makes it difficult for start-ups and SMEs to continue with the business. All big busi- nesses do not make payment before 90 days and these start-ups are dependent on these
giants. If they borrow money, they will have to pay interest, which means they have to pay six months of interest. Now, the government has come into the picture and the payment time has been fixed for SMEs, so that the payment cycle can be maintained. This is a good news.
RK: Tell us about your journey from 2017 to 2019.
DM: In 2017, economy was in good shape. Though GST implementation was a challenge, we overcame it.
We have been growing each year since the beginning of 2011, when we started opera- tions in India. We have had double-digit growth for seven consecutive years. We have recorded a double-digit growth for the first half of financial year 2019-2020 as well.
We added new IP products, such as AccurioLabel 190 and 230 continuous feed digital label printing presses.
We have installed 18 MGI Jetvarnishes, our digital print enhancement equipment, and five Konica Minolta AccurioLabel digital printing presses. We are growing in the IP business segment. We are creating a demand in this market.
We are creating a new market with our products, where we collaborate with our cus- tomers. We offer them new technology and
teach them how to use it for the benefit of end- users. So, in terms of cost, it may be a little higher than traditional technology, but we offer the value of high quality digital printing.
We just don’t sell our products. We support our customers in developing new applications to expand their businesses.
RK: And you have a large customer base...
DM: We have a 52% market share in overall digital printing market as of H1, FY19 as per IDC and approximately 65% in colour printing. This indicates, we have a lot of customers, not only in the metros and big cities, but also in the interiors. This shows that our coverage is best in the industry. We have good logistics system, and of course, service engineers.
We have placed our service engineers in such a manner that we can provide after-sales services within hours, even in remote areas.
None of our competition has such kind of service support right now. We have 40 ware- houses in the country, which are capable of delivering parts and services quickly. So, our response time is faster than others. At locations where we don’t have offices, we have resident engineers, who can provide support. Infact, our satisfaction rate is more than 90%.
This is the advantage for our customers. We have service partners as well, but we prefer to train the staff on our own.
We believe in proactive approach. Hence, we do a lot of preventive maintenance, where the machines can be connected to our server to schedule routine maintenance needs. Insuch a scenario, if a toner is empty, a call is automatically generated and the toner is sent to the customer without any call.
We have developed an app through which a printing machine can be added to our service centre from any part of the country. Through our online connectivity and service support, we can identify the problem in advance and take preventive steps to avoid failure in the machine. So, if there is an issue, we can offer practical maintenance or change the parts before breakdown. Thus, we enhance the uptime of the product.
We offer such services to customers who have AMC with us. In most of the cases, life of a printing device and our guarantee is the
same. Today, we have created such a system that none of our customers need to contact support centre. All information is available in the mobile device given to our service engineers.
So, when a service engineer receives a call from a customer, he receives the complete details of the machine, so that he can prepare the service schedule without hampering the business of our customers.
Right now, more than 90% of our customers use our mobile app. The feedback has been fantastic, as it eliminated issues of time, language and call waiting and connectivity.
RK: In the last six months, Konica Minolta has installed 51 machines in the East India market. It’s huge. What has been your strategy in approaching hitherto unexplored markets?
DM: East India is a difficult market and it took us a lot of time and effort to create a good network and build relationships to strengthen our business. Some of the areas are not easily accessible, but we are thankful to the team and our partners, to build the trust for Konica Minolta as a brand.
Nationally, we have two very good partnersin TechNova Imaging Systems and KMI Business Solutions for production printers.We have been working along with our partner without any conflict. Our partners have their own strengths. They have their own services.
Thus, we have been able to reach everywhere. We continue to work with our partners and explore the areas to improve the reach and strength the relationships. We are working together to have a good user experience for our customers, be it direct or managed by our partners.
RK: Please explain your geographical reach...
DM: Talking about geographies, we look at our coverage gap, and if we do not have any partner in a particular region, we look for a new partner. We have more than 800 resellers associated with Konica Minolta in India. They promote our office production lines. Some of them also look at our production engines. It’s a mix of data. They are helping us reach remote territories as well. This is one way of looking at the market.
Secondly, we do a lot of marketing activities. For our production engines, we conduct seven to eight events per month. And, when you look at our office product line, our partners are doing more than ten roadshows every month.
Recently, we started putting up billboards inbig cities. Now, we are looking at tier-three cities as well, so that customers would know about our brand and products.
Mori (l) with Kuldeep Malhotra (c) and Manish Gupta (r), key personnel at Konica Minolta
RK: A new digital press is a big investment for a small printer. What kind of queries or challenges you face when you approach such customers?
DM: When you look at remote areas, print volumes are low, but margins are higher compared to metros and big cities. When they have to make that arrangement, funding support sometimes becomes a barrier. But the market is growing even in remote regions.
The most important aspect of our production lines is that they are flexible in terms of variety of media handling, different sizes of media, speed and other parameters. Such features help our customers in remote areas, especially in short-run markets.
We have added a new solution to our PP product segment called ‘intelligent quality optimiser’ (IQ 501). This is for optimisation of print quality. It ensures the stability of the machine in terms of colour production and the registration of the sheet, because at fast speeds, registration can be a challenge.
Going forward, we are also adding a data- based authorisation with our data authentication solution. So, we are adding more tools to our machines. For example, if somebody
wants to validate whether a data is printed, itcan be done.
RK: So, who are your ideal customers for these solutions?
DM: I’d say all customers, because in India, temperature varies a lot and environmental conditions are different. The quality of colour depends upon various factors. So, IQ 501 helps in terms of maintaining uniform quality of the brand.
RK: Your Pamex and Drupa 2020?
DM: At Pamex, we will demonstrate a complete range of products. We will be displaying five running machines and solutions for mono, colour, web-to-web printing, print enhancement, and others. We will also have live demonstrations for our IQ 501 and data management solutions. We will also display several printed samples for the customers to explore what they can achieve using our machines. We have requested our existing customers to share their samples with us. Thus, we will be promoting applications, especially done by our customers. By this, visitors will get an idea of what kind of work can be done with our machines and new ideas.
About Drupa 2020, it is too early to say anything. We may get something from Konica Minolta Japan soon.
RK: One printing equipment from Konica Minolta you want to bet on in 2020 and why?
DM: We are leading in all the product segments we represent. So, it is difficult to bet on one product. All our products are equally important.
But yes, we will say that Accurio Press C73HC has a unique strength. I would say it has helped customers who were facing challenges in the RGB photo industry. It has helped printers grow their businesses.
RK: And one product you saw in the last decade that you wish you had created or manufactured?
DM: That is a very difficult question. We have comprehensive product range. We have our own technology. We already have most of the products that we would like to have. Inkjet is becoming a new avatar and we have our own printing ink and printing heads for the same.
One of the biggest trends at the moment is printing on variety of different substrates and we supply the technology and equipment. So, we are not missing anything at the moment. We are the only digital equipment manufacturer with such a large portfolio.
RK: Anything you would have done differently in the last decade?
DM: We have been successful in India since our entry into the country. We started in 2010, and are about to complete a decade. We are doing very well and are expanding. We have become the market leader in the production and office print segments.
We are proud of our achievements and we are expanding and investing. I think we are doing most of the things a corporate should be doing; growing and making profits.
RK: Your outlook for 2020?
DM: Globally, the economy is improving. So, there is a potential for India. There is a demand for growth.
As a company we are focusing more on improving ourselves. If our employees have a better understanding of a customer’s business or the industry, then we can do more to sup- port our customers. We are going to transform ourselves to a digital company with a vision and we’re going to invest on it. Among other initiatives, we have started collecting used toner cans that we supply. Earlier, these used to be disposed of at the customer’s location. Now, we collect them and send them for recycling. We started the initiative around a month ago.