When work went home, printing went with it
Epson is famous for its printers, but the company is one of the world’s most diverse electronics firms. It brings its core competency – precision – to bear everywhere from projection technology, augmented reality hardware and robotics to printers of all shapes and sizes, from classrooms and offices to retail and industrial settings.
As Epson Europe’s Head of Digital Programs, Mauro Bartoletti, told us: “I’m still surprised sometimes by the things we do.”
Surprises perhaps don’t come much bigger than the events of 2020, which saw an unexpected divergence of Epson’s core printing markets. As Mauro explains: “When the world went home to work and study, a huge need for printing went with it. As a result, we saw a rise in demand on the consumer side that we needed to respond to. Nearly four-in-10 people in the EU set up a home office because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the change happened in the space of just a few weeks across the entire continent so we needed to act quickly.”
Fortunately, Mauro and his team had just started the European roll out of ReadyPrint, Epson’s monthly printing subscription service providing consumer printers and inks. These plans were expedited as lockdowns were enforced across Europe, and the initial launch was expanded from one country to nine.
Our philosophy puts customers first, so if there’s an expectation of choice – such as whether to use a printer or to own one – then we want our services and experiences to reflect that,” Mauro explained. “And what we’ve discovered in the year since launching ReadyPrint is the extent to which customers value choice in their payment methods as much as their services.”
Maximising choice for customers
Epson’s ReadyPrint service is based on the Zuora subscription management platform. It was initially launched with credit and debit card payment options only. However, it wasn’t long before customer surveys and high rates of payment abandonment in key markets revealed a clear and strong demand for more choice, specifically Direct Debit.
As a global Zuora partner, GoCardless had the technical credentials needed to bring these capabilities to Epson’s ReadyPrint offering, and it was invited to take part in the RFP. But Epson’s requirements went beyond the purely technical - they were looking for a true partner.
As Epson Europe’s Merchandising Manager, Diego Albergoni, explained: “Technology nowadays is about finding trusted partners whose core competency complements yours and contributes to your mission. You are integrating their culture and their business just as much as their platform or solution.”
When engaging GoCardless there was immediate empathy for what our needs were and they tailored their approach on that basis. When launching a new product there are issues to address every day, so that attitude from a vendor is very much appreciated.”
Mauro agreed, noting that even if a technically equivalent payment solution could be found, he doubted that Epson could find the quality of relationship elsewhere. “GoCardless has proved its customer focus at every stage,” he said.
Direct Debit drives “incredible” response
Once the GoCardless integration was live, Epson promoted Direct Debit’s availability to customers that had previously abandoned their purchase at the payment stage. According to Mauro, the response across Europe was incredible – specifically in the Netherlands and Germany where they had noticed lower conversion rates than in other regions.
There’s been a 40-50% improvement of customers completing their transactions vs abandoning them midway through the process since the introduction of Direct Debit. We’ve also seen a conversion rate of around 80% in regard to customers moving from being considered “pending” to completing their subscription. “Direct Debit as a payment method was a perfect match - our users have told us this by subscribing to our services. There’s no clearer indication: Direct Debit is fundamental to any recurring payments business.”
Now, since giving customers the choice to use the payment option they prefer, Epson sees similar conversion rates across all regions. Direct Debit uptake among new customers is also trending towards 80%. As Epson gears up to launch ReadyPrint to the B2B market, it is expected to become an even more popular payment option.
A partnership to be proud of
Mauro believes Epson’s experience reveals an often-overlooked truth about subscription services: payment options matter.
“Those who consider payment methods to be an auxiliary part of the proposition couldn’t be more wrong,” he said. “A choice of payment methods matters to customers as much as a choice of services and Direct Debit must be one of those choices.”
Reflecting on the success of Epson’s GoCardless implementation, Mauro returns to the relationship between the two companies.
“The main reason for working with GoCardless is the quality of the relationship. We can sit down to understand and anticipate opportunities and challenges and then work on them together. “
Looking to the future, Epson is excited about partnering with GoCardless as it accelerates innovation through its open banking roadmap. Diego explains, “For us, Instant Bank Pay will be a game-changer. We’ll get the benefits of Direct Debit without the delay of setting up a mandate. GoCardless is doing a great job of taking an old fashioned world and making it smarter.”
“We feel we have a true ally in GoCardless that can help us achieve our goals of making customers’ lives as simple as possible,” Mauro concludes.