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3D Alliances survey: decline or growth for 3D printing resellers in 2020?

3D Alliances carried out an independent research study on the performance of 3D printing resellers in 2020 compared with the previous year. The study revealed that the sales of low-end solutions increased an average of 14%, mid-range solution sales declined an average of 10%, and high-end solution sales dropped over 20%.

2020 was a very challenging business year for companies that resell or /distribute 3D printing systems. Before the global pandemic, both local and international public events were the perfect place for 3D resellers to promote their products and for users to closely evaluate different technologies. During 2020, with almost no possibility of meeting potential customers face-to-face, 3D resellers had to find new and creative ways to generate new leads to achieve their yearly goals.

The study analyzed the sales performance of three 3D printing solution categories:

  • Low-end: 2,500$ - 20,000$

  • Mid-range: 20,000$ - 100,000$

  • High-end: 100,000$ - 1,000,000$

Low-end solution sales

The study showed that despite a weak H1-2020, many resellers adjusted their go-to-market strategy and managed not only to catch up in H2-2020 but also to end the year with better results than 2019. The two main reasons for the higher demand were (1) a shift of their customers to lower budgets for more accessible solutions that are reducing the technological gap from professional ones and (2) diverting yearly trade show budgets to online marketing and lead generation activities.

Mid-range solution sales

Mid-range is a more challenging solution segment to promote and sell, but with specific and focused efforts, resellers managed to end the year with only a moderate decline in sales by targeting the right customers. Focusing on the right materials and applications were the key elements for success when color printing was one of the factors that helped drive interest and revenue.

High-end solution sales

Naturally, selling high-end 3D printing systems with minimal personal interaction with the customers, plus the fact that many organizations either froze, postponed, or lowered their budgets was challenging. The result was lower sales in 2020 compared with 2019. Despite this, about 25% of these resellers managed to increase their sales in 2020 due to local market conditions, special projects in the medical sector, and increased automotive/bike sector business due to new scenarios in personal mobility.

Resellers outlook for 2021

In general, resellers foresee that the trend of customer focus in low-end solutions will continue. However, some variations are noted depending on local market conditions. The factors that are expected to influence the growth in sales will be:

  • The way each country manages the COVID crisis, including their ‘vaccine exit plan.’

  • Country’s strategies in applying fiscal benefits for Industry 4.0 solutions.

  • The awareness of 3D printing and the positive influence it has on supply chain challenges.

  • Reorganization and restructuring of the reselling business model, including a shift to online marketing, adding web selling features, efficient remote benchmark printing processes, refreshing product portfolios, and strengthening customer online support.

All in all, with a record year in fundraising in the industry, the positive trend of public traded 3D printing companies, significant M&A deals—a trend that is expected to continue—and the increased awareness of how crucial 3D printing is to supply chain challenges, 3D printing resellers are positive about 2021 and foresee a challenging yet successful year.

Survey Methodology: the survey included the participation of CEOs of over 30 resellers from the USA, Europe, and Asia that are selling 3D printing solutions for entry-level, mid-range, and high-end industrial systems.

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