Inflation Hitting PC Costs, But Effects on Enterprise Pricing Are Limited

By Kristian Tuinzing

Director of Client Services, NPI

June 30, 2021

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Between inflation concerns and pricing pressure caused by ongoing shortages of computer chips and other key components, many anticipate PC costs will rise among the big three OEMs: Dell, HP and Lenovo.

Forecasting price changes is tricky business, even in categories where demand is clearly outpacing supply. Using Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculations, which tracks price changes for common consumer goods, price increases are expected to be in the range of 3 to 5 percent for IT services and hardware. But a deeper analysis based on the wider data accumulated by NPI reveals most of these increases are being passed almost entirely on to the consumer PC market, with limited impact on the enterprise sector.

NPI’s data indicates enterprise PC cost increases are currently limited in scope and isolated mainly to high-end GPUs and server-specific Intel CPUs. Looking at economic data related to the Producer Price Index around computer manufacturing (another indicator that measures average price changes by domestic producers), rates have remained mostly flat and actually slightly down compared to 2020. This means that increases to standard enterprise PC models should remain minimal for the time being.

However, that doesn’t mean resellers and OEMs aren’t trying to take advantage of headlines to  overcharge enterprise clients – many are doing just that. While enterprise PC pricing may understandably increase in some areas, it doesn’t justify the price jumps of 30 to 50 percent (or more) that NPI has seen in some recent quotes analyzed for clients. Here are three tips for getting the best deal on your next PC purchase.

Be Wary of ‘Hidden Fees’

Hidden fees have always been ”gotcha” in PC buying, but NPI has noticed an uptick recently in the frequency and degree of their inclusion in quotes. Without a closer inspection, there can be risk of resellers passing on excess accessory inventory and services to clients at exorbitant prices.

Here are three questions enterprises should ask:

  • Is the reseller/vendor automatically bundling in unneeded cables, docking stations, or carrying bags?
  • Are services like imaging, BIOS configuration, and asset tagging included or separate?
  • Are onsite support personnel being bundled into pricing?

Push Back on Inflation-Driven Increases

While some upticks are to be expected under current market conditions, buying teams should feel confident in standing up to unfair increases if they are proposed.  Monitors and displays, for example, are an area where price benchmark analysis reveals no increases are warranted. IT support services is an area that is showing a slight decrease of -0.10% in recent May CPI figures. Takeaway – if your OEM or reseller attempts to pass on a cost increase under the guise of inflation, demand they validate their claims.

Involve Competition – Even in Small Portions

All of the factors surrounding enterprise PC buying means that the market is even more fiercely competitive than usual between the major contenders. Competition can be one of the single greatest sources of leverage in enterprise PC buying, but NPI recognizes that creating this leverage can be cumbersome for customers. A good deal of work goes into creating relationships with suppliers and resellers, and buying commoditized hardware assets is more intensive than some simpler software applications where competition is easier to create.

Because of this, NPI recommends clients look at bringing in competition for a specific area of demand (e.g. tablet PCs only). In the current environment, if a vendor feels too comfortable that their business won’t be challenged, then it’s much more likely that they could be charging above market rates. Understanding what your peers are paying for similar-scoped purchases across competing vendors continues to be a critical component of securing a best-in-class deal with OEMs and resellers.