Times are changing in the print industry, where every professional printer from flexible packagers to quick print businesses are feeling the impact on their people, processes, and profits. The only way to keep up with trends and stay on top of the overcrowded competition is to take a step back and update your production processes and technology. With that in mind, we will discuss some of the major opportunities and resulting challenges that are currently emerging in the print industry. Our print and technology experts will then share some insight into how to tackle these issues head-on and set your print shop up for success moving forward.
The Rate of Change in the Print Industry
Over the past decade, print companies worldwide have had to adjust their operations significantly to keep up with changing demands. In an industry that relies heavily on consumer expectations, innovative technology, new materials, process efficiencies, and tight margins, no printer is exempt from evolving to meet the current demands.
The print industry has a long history of transformation. From the early days of woodblock printing and Gutenberg’s printing press to offset printing and digital printing – every invention has led to increased print speed, efficiency, quality, and access.
With the rise of web-to-print, digital presses, and mobile connectivity, the role and dynamics of the traditional print business have changed. As the next generation of digital presses pushes for streamlined production and consistent quality, consumers are demanding:
- Faster and easier ways to customize print jobs
- Greater versatility in materials
- More accurate pricing and timely response rates
- Smaller order quantities
- Compliance with laws and regulations
If they don’t get what they want from one print shop, they quickly switch to another print shop without a second thought. The reason behind this is because nowadays, the print industry is highly competitive. According to a market report by Smithers, the global print industry is forecasted to reach $821 billion by 2022. While print value continues to grow, driven by print packaging, labels, and digital printing, the global print market shrinks in volume. This new reality is forcing large players in the print industry to transform their business models, where they are leveraging digital technologies as a complement to offset or flexography printing to meet many of today’s market demands.
Let’s look at an example.
Due to advancements in the quality and accessibility of digital printing, offset printers have had to expand their machines and technology to involve digital production. Digital presses are now able to produce the same quality as offset printers, only without the expensive setup fee. Now that customers can get the same quality job at a lower cost, offset printers have had to adapt and adopt digital technology into their operations in order to compete.
Opportunities Emerging in the Print Industry
As you can see, evolving customer expectations and new advancements in print continue to shape the industry. Some of the more notable opportunities to emerge in the last few years include:
Print markets are no longer geographically defined, as printers use technology to differentiate themselves and make their services available online.
There has been significant growth in the number of cloud-based applications because this allows print shops more access to affordable software, better integration, data security, and an opportunity to digitize their operations and improve the customer experience.
Print shops no longer need to offer every kind of print service to a customer to reach the best profit margin. Instead, many are choosing to specialize in their services and focus on niche markets.
Inventory and Materials Expansion
Customers are demanding more customization and personalization in print jobs than ever before, from paper, ink, and finish options to more sustainable materials. Printers are now expanding their materials and managing a broader inventory base.
Print Manufacturing Technology
Progression in digital print technology has opened the door to process automation, digital workflows, and quality advancements that are enabling print shops to lower costs, increase accuracy, improve efficiencies, and provide a quicker turnaround for customers.
Gone are the days of disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. Print shops can now use centralized software to bring together all the moving parts of their business, from prepress workflows to accounting to bindery.
Challenges Facing Every Printer in the Modern World
Even with all of these great opportunities to expand your business and product line, printers today are still struggling to make ends meet. The question is, how do you keep up with rapidly changing consumer demands, global competition, customization expectations, and digital transformation – all while keeping your costs as low as possible? Here are four of the top challenges modern printers are currently facing in the industry today:
The Race to the Bottom
Industry studies have continuously shown the average print company’s net profit is between 1-3%. To compete in today’s saturated market, print shops need to find ways to automate key production processes, retain customers, cut costs, and have the ability to detect profitable jobs vs. unprofitable jobs.
With so many moving parts that need to be pulled together to reach the final product – print shops are chaotic, to say the least. Without a unified workflow and total visibility into production and capacity, printers are not able to effectively estimate, schedule, and produce quality results.
While some material spoilage is necessary in the print industry, too much can have major consequences to your bottom line. To avoid the excess costs and reduce spoilage rate, print shops need to consider automation and how to track and analyze spoilage costs.
Death by a Thousand Cuts
When you operate in a high-volume, low-margin industry, every mistake or inefficiency costs you. The human error, inefficiencies, and misalignment that come with heavily manual processes in estimating, scheduling, and production add up quickly and result in internal confusion, missed delivery dates, and lost jobs. Learn more about the pitfalls of modern printing here.
Future Proof Your Business with Print MIS Software
With so many factors impacting the print industry, modern print shops need a solution to manage all aspects of print production to ensure they are delivering seamless customer experiences, guaranteeing cost assurance, and keeping tabs on how they’re spending. That’s where a Print Management Information System (Print MIS) technology can help.
A Print MIS brings all of your print operations into one platform to provide end-to-end visibility and control over your business. From estimating to print production, print MIS has revolutionized the industry, helping print shops reduce repetitive tasks, automate workflows, estimate jobs faster, lower operating costs, improve customer satisfaction, and empower employees. Learn more about Print MIS and what’s included by downloading the educational white paper below.
At Wye Print, we know that with the right technology and training, you can transform your print experience, make people better at what they do, and drive value from every interaction. Unlike other print software vendors, we offer a complete print business management solution that includes both Print MIS and enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities. PrintVis is a flexible, cloud-based solution that combines your print processes with your sales, financials, and warehousing operations in one easy-to-use centralized system. Built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, PrintVis is designed to fit any print shop or budget and seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft productivity technologies, including Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and Power BI.