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What's the Risk of Buying a Cheap Printer Online for My Business?

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For many businesses, the upfront costs may seem more than reasonable, but the long-term consumable costs combined with overall durability can make these purchases reasonably short-sighted.

During the onset of COVID-19, amid your rush to set up a home office, it probably didn't take long for the question to arise: “How am I going to print?” Maybe you went online, only to discover that there are thousands of non-business grade printer options at any number of “box store” retailers.

Yes, many of them at more than reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, these online printer options are typically bad news for businesses who run their equipment at higher volumes than the home consumer. For many businesses, the upfront costs may seem more than reasonable, but the long-term consumable costs combined with overall durability can make these purchases reasonably short-sighted.

Business grade vs. non-business grade: What’s the difference? In Short …

  • Non-business grade printers are cheaper up front, but incur heavier supplies cost and are often not repairable.
  • Business-grade printers, like the ones purchased from a copier dealership vs box store, are more expensive upfront but are generally serviceable and incur less long-term consumables costs.

3 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Buy That Cheap Printer Online:

1. What are my consumable costs going forward? 

The cost of maintenance and supplies (namely cartridges) will certainly add up quickly with a non-business grade printer.

Consider a recent example: A car dealership I was visiting with was looking at a non-business grade printer and a business grade recently. Though the business-grade printer was a few extra hundred more upfront, the toner cartridge replacement for that machine was $175 (vs $375 for the cheaper printer). It became clear that the business grade printer was a wiser long-term purchase based on the expected volume and anticipated lifespan.

2. How will these printers be serviceable, and who will service them?

Parts availability is a concern for non-business grade printers. Many of them are intended to be used and then disposed of the first time they malfunction. Even if parts are available, the cost of parts and labor would likely cost more than buying a new non-business grade printer or even finding a local resource for the repair.

Downtime for businesses who rely on printers every day can become a concern.

3. What’s my average volume? (AKA, can the cheap printer online handle it)?

Let’s say you’re a small community church, and you’re making 100 or less prints a month. Maybe that online printer fits your needs.

But the bottom line? For most businesses who rely on high-volume, reliable equipment to meet their printing demands every single day, it’s a wiser investment, we believe, to empty that online cart, close the web browser and contact your local copier/printer provider.

We've discussed printers, but what about your fleet as a whole? Ready to dig in and discover ways you can improve your overall print spend? Schedule your Datamax Print Assessment today! 

Schedule your print/workflow assessment today! ›


About Robert L. Baker III

Robert Baker serves as a Business Technology Consultant for Datamax Texas. Prior to that, for 14 years Robert worked as a Technical Sales Executive and Regional Field Analyst for Canon USA.

Topics: Printing Print Management You Ask, We Answer