Advancements in technology have affected almost every aspect of running a business, and the printing industry is no exception. The development of digital products and the increasing use of digital media mean that the commercial print world has some challenges ahead if it is to survive in this new age.
A shift in focus to embrace the newer print technologies while improving traditional print services will be more painful to some organizations than others, but it’s not impossible. As always, the key is to be able to give customers what they want and to add value with your services.
Value-Added, On-Demand Applications Taking The Lead
Traditional printing applications are indeed changing and being replaced by valued-added, on-demand services and shorter run options (fewer than 1,000 pieces) offered by digital products. Some of these services include creative design, e-commerce, logistic services, database creation and maintenance, content creation, web page design and hosting, large format printing, mailing and many other applications that offer support beyond basic printing services.
If your company creates long book runs for publishers, consider producing shorter runs of on-demand books in printed or digital format that can be sold directly to customers. If you sell to local businesses, consider adding services such as large format signs and layout design support.
Whatever you choose to do, you must do it quickly and efficiently because customers have come to expect almost immediate turn-around of their products.
The good news is that traditional printing products and services such as creating documents with a hole punch machine and bindings will still have an important place in the industry. However, it will be critical that the new products be added into the service mix as well. This will broaden your base of satisfied customers and keep you poised to shift easily into the new applications as required.
Increase Custom Specialty Applications
One way to start moving forward is to develop custom specialty printing applications that enhance or improve traditional printing methods such as a hole punch machine. For example, Rhin-O-Tuff has created a custom die/tool business to support commercial print shops. The specialty die/tool patterns will work with custom print applications and hole punch machine patterns to deliver a wide range of custom specialty functions.
The development of new substrate paper has increased printing options many times over because it adapts to virtually any printing process including offset, thermal transfer, laser and ink jet options.
Creating new applications and new products while simultaneously improving the efficiency and productivity of existing print systems will result in the creation of great products that add value for customers.
Creativity Is The Key To Growth
The more creative the industry can be in finding new solutions, the better its chances for continued customer demand. Value added print applications with shorter runs and variable personalized information is one key to growth, but there are others.
Another possibility is to expand services to include both traditional print products and cross-media products such as multi-media layout and design, digital printing, and more. Create a one-stop shop offering digital printing of documents all the way through to punch and binding with a traditional hole punch machine and various binding options from coil and wire to comb binding.
Variable data printing is a new option where print jobs are linked to information on a customer’s database, which creates opportunities for printers to help manage the data as well as print, punch and bind it into completed documents.
To meet and overcome today’s economic challenges, the printing industry must continue to find ways to prove their value to customers through rapid service, creativity, and new applications that maximize the use of today’s digital printing options. You don’t have to give up the older options like the trusty hole punch machine, but you must expand your options in order to keep your customers.