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Printers expand services to boost sales

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An executive summary by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Ricoh released in March this year indicates that as many as one third of IT industry leaders believe their businesses will disappear altogether, while six out of 10 believe their operating markets will be significantly altered between now and 2020, writes Alan Austin, sales and marketing director at Ricoh SA.
No doubt print service providers will be able to strongly relate to these predictions. In a market under pressure, many print companies are looking to transform their businesses beyond increasingly competitive, commoditised print.
They are looking for opportunities to add value in new ways as printing clients seek shorter print runs, greater personalisation and more integration with their marketing campaigns.
Ambitious operations already know that a business fit for the future is one that does not stand still. They are continually reviewing the services they offer while listening, understanding and acting upon feedback. They also know that transforming to meet future client needs takes clear vision from a strongly focused team all working towards the same goal.
However, sometimes it is easier said than done, as print service providers juggle the demands of their loyal and existing clients with the need to change to attract new clients. Also in many cases the resources and the new skills that are required are limited and it’s a challenge to keep up with the pace of technology.
Identifying opportunities for change
There is good news. While the forecasts highlight the decline of print, it is important to recognise that many clients will still continue to use print as a means to communicate with customers, partners and employees.
Pira predicts that decreases in total print volume for Europe between 2012 and 2015 will be 1%. The trend is away from low value commoditised print towards value-added print as part of targeted cross-media marketing campaigns that combine the best of digital and print. Print service providers do not need to face the challenges of how to expand into some of these areas alone.
Some of Ricoh’s customers have already begun their transition with fully integrated digital and offset production, dedicated Web-to-print accounts and multimedia campaigns. Some have even become marketing service providers by taking the lead in fully integrated marketing campaigns.
Others are at the beginning of their journey, working with Ricoh to determine the best opportunities that lie ahead. There are opportunities to change and grow the business in a way that will suit each business’s specific vision and goals.
Versatile solutions facilitate transformation
Kungsbacka in Sweden is a small commercial printer which expanded its printing assets from offset only to include a digital press. It eliminated the need to outsource its short print runs by adding digital to its portfolio, instead managing the jobs itself and having full control over the times taken to deliver the completed job to its clients.
It has also been able to take on more short run print jobs to increase its revenue stream.
PIP Printing in the US, a franchise that is generating more profits in numerous new ways, is managing variable data printing (VDP) jobs and book publishing and is now able to offer more customisable multichannel marketing campaigns. As a result it has extremely satisfied clients.
The association for chief marketing officers, CMO Council, in the US, has launched its new worldwide membership journal, Peersphere, in a print and digital format so it could be read on paper, or from a mobile phone or tablet.
This allows CMO Council to create more localised versions to increase audience relevance, interaction and interest. For print service providers this shows how digital can complement – rather than replace – litho print, and how a multi-channel approach can create opportunities to add considerable value.
The ability to forge diverse services allows printers to respond flexibly to customer requirements, drive new lines of business, and new revenue streams that promote healthier margins.