I call Bull ****! At least for our industry, the copier industry! This may be true of a commodity (like envelopes, or coffee, or even a PC) but copiers, really MFDs require a lot of attention, both before and after a customer buys it. This article seems to be written by an old brick & mortar company that successfully transitioned to internet sales. This will work for any company that drop ships their products. And I agree that the MFD manufacturers would LOVE for this to be, or become true. But it's not true, not for MFDs.
Someone has to meet with the customer to really find out what they need. If you are a sales person and all you tell them is that your box can Copy, Print, Scan, and Fax, then maybe this article does apply to you. Because you bring no added value. But this does not apply to a real MFD sales person who digs in and finds out what a customers REAL needs are. How and What do they print & copy, do they scan to email only, does it need to be secure, how about Faxing? Would a Cloud Fax be a good solution for them or an on premise Fax Server?
By the way, who is going to set up this MFD when it arrives in a box at the Customers office? Who will demonstrate the features, and train the key operators? Who will get it on the network and configure the Cloud apps? When your Scan to email breaks who are you going to call to fix it? If you don't buy it from a local Dealer all this goes away. Or at the very least you will not be considered a priority. Those customer who have committed to our Sales People and Our Dealership are a priority to us, and we take care of them with exceptional service and support after the sale.
The MFD sales person won't go away until they find away to address these issues without a human connection. You may say that Xerox with their Agents & to some degree and Ricoh Direct (for MFDs under 40PPM) do it this way now. To which I reply yes, I know, we kick their ass regularly when we go head to head.
This is a pipe dream. The Manufacturers would love for this to be true, or to be true soon. But it isn't and won't be anytime soon. This fantasy would allow them to bypass us pesky Dealers. We are to them a necessary evil. They thought that their Direct Sales Branches would replace us, but they haven't because they can't seem to do what we do, at least not well. If a Direct Sales Branch can't do it, how in hell do you think a nameless, faceless, web site will?
That's my $0.02
VP \ Network Solutions