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Buying Office Copiers Online vs. from a Local Dealer (Pros & Cons)

office copier shopping

"Why should I buy a copier from a local dealership when I can order one online for much less?"  

There may be particular upsides and downsides to buying office copier and printer devices online.   Advances in e-commerce have made it virtually (no pun intended) effortless for us to purchase anything online. From cereal to cars, most transactions are a few phone swipes and taps away. Office copiers, MFDs, and production printers are also available online from a variety of companies and individuals. How convenient, right? Well, that may depend on your definition of "convenient."    Let's explore the pros and cons of buying office copiers online versus through a local dealer.   Because many prefer to hear the bad news first, for each section, let's begin with the cons.  

Buying Office Copier Equipment Online  

The Cons of Buying Copiers Online 

Frustrating Initial Setup 

Upon ordering an office copier from an online reseller, you're typically in charge of everything that occurs after the unit has shipped. The hardware shows up on a pallet in one degree of disassembly or another—usually to protect sensitive components from damage during shipping.   You'll then need to:  

  • Assemble the unit properly 
  • Correctly install and/or attach accessories and finishing components 
  • Load the necessary consumables (toner, ink, paper, staples, etc.) 
  • Install the required drivers and software  
  • Move the equipment to the proper office location 
  • Securely connect the copier to the company network 
  • Provide continued maintenance and repairs for the device 

Essentially, when faced with the option of buying most products directly from an online office copier provider, you typically take on the risk and responsibility associated with the shipment, installation, and maintenance of the equipment. In most instances, there is little or no support from the seller once it leaves their inventory.   

Lack of Local Support 

When you purchase a copier online, the headquarters of the seller is usually not in your community. Even if the seller were to offer any form of support, the cost to ship damaged units to their facility for repair is steep. The lack of a local representation may involve a series of emails, games of phone tag, and complicated online form submissions for you to manage. Even if returned to the seller, this would still leave you without a machine for the duration of the initial shipping, repair, and any return shipping. Any further maintenance would be the responsibility of your organization or a local copier repair company—likely eating up any money you initially saved.  

Varying Copier Condition 

Just like shopping for anything on the internet, copiers and other office equipment purchased online lack the ability for a hands-on review. If you've ever started a vehicle-buying experience online, you know that "used" or "pre-owned" are expressions that can either describe a lightly driven model or one on its last legs. The potential for the misrepresentation of the product may also be a concern. Overall, this lack of a "test drive" may make you wary about purchasing copiers online. 

Model & Warranty Availability 

Though several new makes and models of copiers are available for online purchase, many must be purchased exclusively by local authorized dealers. Some online sellers may attempt workarounds, which may only add confusion to the transaction. Such scenarios can make obtaining guarantees and warranties through online sellers incredibly rare and questionable. Even if possible, honouring these warranties or guarantees from a distance can be a logistical headache for your company.   

The Pros of Buying Office Copiers Online 

Reduced Price 

Putting aside risk, the primary advantage of buying office copiers and print equipment online is the cost savings. When comparing to a dealership’s equipment pricing versus an online reseller price, the savings can run in the hundreds of dollars. For the highest tier devices, the savings may even run in the thousands.   

A World of Selection 

When your company decides to buy print equipment online, a literal world of options is opened to you. Though specific models may be relegated to dealerships only, online sellers can undoubtedly provide an array of devices.  

Ease of Price Shopping 

Just as the selection of models available from online sellers is extensive, so are the price options. If you're a price-centric buyer, online price shopping has made finding the lowest price easier than ever. In a matter of moments, you can see most cost breakdowns from an array of online copier dealers. Online seller prices are typically straightforward and easy to understand. 

Buying Office Copier Equipment From a Local Dealer 

The Cons of Buying Office Copiers from a Local Dealership 

One Dealership vs. The Internet 

The primary disadvantage you'll encounter when shopping for office equipment with a local dealer is a lack of selection. They may only carry a handful of brands. Though a local dealership may offer a variety of makes and models, if you're loyal to a brand they don't sell, there's little they can do. Local dealers simply can't compete with the internet's limitless selection.    

Higher Price 

It's doubtful that a local office equipment dealer will be able to match or beat online prices. Local business solutions companies must charge customers more to sustain their service fleets, support roles, and administrative costs. These costs are built into the price you pay for a new copier.   

The Pros of Buying Office Copiers from a Local Dealership  

Mitigation of Risk 

One of the significant benefits of buying print equipment from a local dealership is the assurance of a working machine when delivery is said and done. The local dealer absorbs the cost of damaged shipments or faulty components.  

Machine Customization 

Though dealerships lack the diverse array of brands that the internet can offer, most are dedicated to helping you tailor your copier to your needs. Even if someone doesn't know the ins-and-outs of copiers, many local dealership representatives can perform on-site print analyses to determine your company's exact equipment needs.  

Simplified Installation & Setup 

One of the main differences between purchasing a machine online or from a local dealership is what you're actually paying for. One is a box that contains equipment. The other is the ownership as well as the use of that equipment. Though a machine from a local dealership may cost more, you're paying for much more than a shipped pallet—you're paying for the promise of a working device that is compatible with your network.    The purchase of an office copier machine from a local dealership typically includes:  

  • Delivery of the unit to the desired location 
  • Assembly of the device, including add-ons and finishing units 
  • Initial loading of consumable products (paper, toner, ink, staples, etc.) 
  • Installation of necessary software and drivers 
  • Secure installation on your company's network 
  • User training for your staff  

Simplified Ongoing Maintenance & Repair 

Most local copier dealers are also equipped with a fleet of service technicians—many of whom can respond to service calls within 24 hours or less. Even if ongoing maintenance isn't included in the price of the machine, there is a particular value in having an ongoing relationship with a local copier repair company. These companies typically employ factory-certified technicians for specific models of copiers and other devices. 

More Eager to Please 

Unlike online copier dealerships who can afford to burn bridges due to their expansive sales area (in some instances, the entire planet), local dealers must build relationships and learn more about your business' needs. Because of this, local copier dealers must work harder to earn and increase your business more than an online copier dealer. 

Keeping Dollars at Home 

You may be a shopper who simply looks for the best price on virtually anything you buy. You may, instead, pay closer attention to the impact that your spending choices have on your local economy. Online purchases from faraway sellers do not benefit your local economy. Doing business with a local company, however, not only keeps tax revenue at home but contributes to companies doing good in their cities and towns. Local dealerships frequently sponsor community events, sports teams, and charitable initiatives. They also bring jobs to your area. If you value keeping dollars local, this is a great reason to do business with a local dealership. 

So, Which is Better: An Online Company or Local Copier Dealer?   

Weighing these pros and cons may cause your company to ask yourself the following question: How much responsibility for copier setup and maintenance are we willing to shoulder for the sake of increased initial savings?  

The Online Company Customer 

If your company:  

  • Is looking to save money upfront 
  • Employs technically-inclined staff members experienced in office copier setup, maintenance, and repair 
  • Can afford to replace a copier damaged in shipping 

—buying a copier from an online dealer may be the smarter choice for you.  

The Local Company Customer 

If your company:  

  • Would prefer to leave copier setup, maintenance, and repair to a factory-certified third-party 
  • Is ok with a higher bill if it means more guaranteed uptime 
  • Typically can't afford to wait very long for copier repairs 
  • Values supporting your local economy 

—buying a copier from a local dealership may be the smarter choice. 

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