Staples has launched managed print services and the big box retailer expects to help customers cut printing costs by up to 30 percent. Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, is leading the managed print services (MPS) push. Although managed print services is considered a prime opportunity, only about 30 percent of MSPs offer managed print services, according to our annual MSPmentor 100 report.

Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) is no stranger to the managed services market.  Thrive Networks, the retailer's managed services arm, ranks among the world's top MSPs, according to our annual MSPmentor 100 report. While Thrive Networks is not involved in the Staples Advantage MPS push, Thrive Networks President Jim Lippie says he's aware of the Staples Advantage MPS effort.

According to a prepared statement about the managed print services push:
"Staples Technology Solutions can conduct a comprehensive assessment to help businesses understand their total cost of printing. The process analyzes hardware, maintenance, staff resources and consumables such as ink, toner and paper. Staples can also evaluate printing habits to pinpoint how the printing devices are used. The information is used to optimize the fleet based on the customer’s unique goals and organizational requirements."
Staples says its managed print services effort will include:
  • A brand-neutral solution that works with a customer’s existing printer fleet
  • Assistance reaching sustainability goals through office printing guidelines
  • Reduced time spent on print fleet maintenance and support
  • Automated supply replenishment
  • A single, predictable monthly bill
  • Ongoing account management of a company’s print strategy
It sounds promising, and I realize managed print services is a real opportunity for MSPs. But MSPmentor also is careful not to hype the market. Many printer vendors focus their managed print efforts as direct-sales initiatives rather than promoting VARs and MSPs to end-customers.

Still, there are signs of progress across the managed print market. Many of the new industry milestones surface at Photizo Group conferences. And there was plenty of managed print chatter at the recent ITEX conference in Las Vegas, where MSP-oriented software companies like Shockey Monkey apparently held discussions about a range of managed print industry opportunities.