Epson Ink Tank System printers deliver low-cost, high quality prints for Spark Asia
Photo printing service provider turns to Epson printers to keep its printing costs low while delivering vibrant snapshots for shutterbugs
PHOTO apps have made it easier to take and store snapshots on mobile devices, but consumers aren’t about to give up print photography just yet.
After all, there’s something about physical photographs as tangible keepsakes that can be shared with family and friends.
Seeing that print photography is still a cherished product, Singapore entrepreneur Luke Wu co-founded Spark Asia, a free photo-printing service that allows users to print eight 4R-size photos per month using a smartphone app.
With a print volume of about 40,000 4R prints every month, Spark Asia needed a printer with high print speeds to minimise man-hour costs.
After months of searching for the best options and spending hours at IT malls to see the printers in action, Spark Asia acquired eight Epson L800 ink tank system printers, each of which takes 50 to 60 seconds to print a 4R photo for the quality it wants for its users. “That said, with some printer settings, we take about 15 seconds to print a 4R photo,” Wu adds.
The Epson L800 is a six-colour photo ink tank system printer that delivers photo prints at a low cost, thanks to its ultra-high capacity ink tank and high-volume ink bottles for easy refills. Each set of ink bottles can print up to 1,800 high-quality 10 x 15cm photos, delivering an ultra-low cost per photo.
“We were drawn to the printer’s promise that it could manage high volume printing at a low cost, headlined by Epson’s innovation of integrating an external ink tank,” Wu says. “We were also confident of the quality because it was a six-colour inkjet printer so we knew the photos would be more vibrant and nuanced.”
Indeed, the print quality enabled by Epson’s Micro Piezo printhead technology delivers unrivalled durability, quality and reliability, is of utmost importance to Spark Asia whose customers demand high quality snapshots. “Moreover, we were charging businesses for placing advertisements behind these prints, so the print quality of the advertisements is also an important dimension,” Wu adds.
However, in May 2016, Spark Asia decided to outsource its core printing operations to a third-party printing company. “The volume of prints we had to manage on a daily basis required too many man-hours for it to be cost-effective. As such, we had to outsource our printing to industrial grade printers that could handle such volumes,” Wu reveals.
Still an Epson shop
That said, Spark Asia is still using the Epson L805 and L1800 ink tank system printers, as well as the Epson PM-245 portable photo printer. According to Wu, these printers are used during marketing campaigns to acquire users and to build the Spark Asia brand.
Specifically, Spark Asia uses the Epson L1800 printer to print A3-size marketing materials – posters and collaterals.
A six-colour A3+ printer for cost-conscious homes and offices, the L1800 prints photos in around 191 seconds. Its high-capacity ink tank system lets Spark Asia print 1,800 10x15cm photos without a refill, delivering a low cost per photo or colour page. The L1800’s six high-capacity ink bottles are also simple, quick and easy to refill – with no mess.
“The L1800 is really useful because it keeps our marketing cost low. And since it’s in-house, we can get things printed immediately without relying on any third party,” Wu says.
Spark Asia also uses the Epson L805 – another six-colour photo ink tank system printer that delivers high-quality borderless photo printing of up to A4 size – to print photos that it sponsors for universities and corporations. The L805 is also bundled with a starter kit of six 70ml ink bottles of Epson ink that delivers ultra-high page yields of up to 1,800 4R photos.
The business benefits of the printers are already paying off for Spark Asia. Wu says: “Since we started using the Epson L805 printers to print sponsored photos for institutions, we have experienced a 60 percent registration conversion rate for the free photos”.
“That is, for every 100 photos we print and give to users for free, we will get 60 registrations. That’s a staggering number – the cost per acquisition of this marketing tactic is very low,” he adds.
And while on the ground at events, Spark Asia relies on the PM-245 printer that prints 4R-size professional lab quality photos in just 37 seconds without the need for a PC. One such event was SmartKids Asia, where some 5,000 photos of participants were printed.
In summing up Spark Asia’s experience with Epson printers, Wu noted that the company wouldn’t be able to run its business effectively without them.
“As a company that leverages the print medium to gain traction, it’s imperative that we have our own fleet of printers at our disposal to complement the actual product received by the user.
“In our business, there’s so much going on behind the scenes that users don’t see. And a large part of that is powered by the Epson L1800, L805 and PM-245,” he says.
Spark Asia was looking for printers with high print speeds and print quality to minimise man-hour costs and meet the quality expectations of its users. It also needed a way to print on-demand during events.
The Epson L1800 enables on-demand printing without relying on third-party printers; the Epson L805 is used for printing high quality sponsored photos and the Epson PM-245 for onsite printing.
- High quality, high-speed printing
- High page yields with low running cost
- Enabled low customer acquisition costs