Current State

The internet has become a major part of everyone’s life. As a result, the Consumer has become more informed, has greater influence, and demands accurate and appropriate information when in the buying cycle. The consumer is in control and has greater influence than ever before. When the consumer is looking for a product or service, they can shop quickly and easily with little effort. This has impacted retail in the same way the internet has impacted printing.

Meanwhile, printing has evolved as well. Technology allows us to customize the content with variable data, custom images in shorter run lengths. The opportunity to complement the marketing message, allows print to add new communication options. Many agencies disregard the value a printed message offers during a campaign. Packaging options can enhance the consumer’s connection to the product and Brand.

The “Value” of print is different than the “Price” of print. Shorter run lengths offer additional benefits over longer run lengths. The buying experience is different as well as the production. There is an opportunity for both short and long run lengths. Neither will replace the other. They complement each other, with one providing an opportunity for the other.

Best Practices

The process of selling short-run, on-demand printing is completely different. It is impossible to sell short-run, Variable Data Printing (VDP) through traditional methods. Some of the most successful print businesses, don’t sell “Printing” at all. Companies like ShutterFly, EPac, and Personalization Mall are selling services to enhance the “Customer Experience”. Their focus is to bring an enhanced buying experience the Consumer would not have access to in a traditional process.

ShutterFly for example doesn’t sell photos printed on paper. They sell memories. Their strategy is to put as much of the creative process into the hands of the consumer. By providing expert creative tools, templates, and choices, they allow the consumer to “Personalize” the product to represent their emotions and preferences. In addition to an easy creative experience, they will recommend complementary products that related to the original purchase. Items such as In-law

Wedding books to give to the parents of the Bride and Groom. Canvas prints to highlight an event or activity to hang on the wall.
This is now all possible with the implementation of prepress Automation. Automation sets the stage for sustaining the business and providing the capacity for future growth.

Traditional job ticket processing would not be profitable if each job request had to be handled on a per-job basis. The shorter the path to process, the greater the profits. Automation allows you to monitor every step of production. From the order creation and entry from an E-commerce platform, job processing, fulfillment, supply chain management, and delivery. E-commerce requires payment prior to manufacturing.

PersonalizationMall.com is one of the best examples of putting the creative process into the hands of the consumer. They offer a wide variety of high quality, “Personalized” products that include very customized messages, images, and varieties of styles. The products are printed, laser-etched, dye sublimation, embroidered, or any other process that will create unique gift products. The orders are very short. Maybe one or two products per order. Because of a well thought out, automated process, they can meet the high demand, quick manufacturing requirements the consumer expects.

Conclusion

Printing is no longer about efficient manufacturing processes. Even though, that is essential in maintaining profits. Printing was a “Manufacturing” industry in what is now a “Services” based economy. Your solutions must help facilitate the awareness of your client’s products or services. You must show how your involvement will help connect the Brand to the Consumer. If you can show how your solutions help launch a new product, build brand awareness, increase the reputation of a company, then you have created an “Integrated” solution. Integration means the services you provide becomes part of your customer’s business. Automation will tie into your customers’ manufacturing process. Integration prevents the possibility of losing the “Book of Business”. Even if your sales representative leaves and goes to another printer.

Amazon, Google, ShutterFly and PersonalizationMall.com are some of the most successful, contemporary services providers that are less than 20 years old. They offer a unique service traditional companies don’t offer. They are experts at managing the Relationship between the Consumer and the Brand. To stay relevant in this economy, you must provide enhancements to the consumer during their “Path to Purchase”. Critical to customer satisfaction.

Author: George Compiani – My 20 plus years in the print industry has focused on disruptive, innovative technology.

The industry has seen a tremendous shift in print solutions.

The internet has had a profound influence on the value of printing.

My focus has been to understand how technology has improved and transformed communications.

Technology and Automation will provide the improvements that Print Service Providers need to stay competitive.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with industry leaders, which allows me to share best practices and successful programs.

This is a “Consumer” driven economy, and your value is helping deliver a better customer experience.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!