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Eye-Opening Opportunity for Independent Dealers Found at Print 13

4 Oct, 2013 By: David C. Ramos

I recently attended Print 13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, and the theme for this year’s show was “Innovate. Integrate. Communicate.”  The event is held once every four years and this year’s show was the largest and most innovative global exhibition of digital, offset printing and hybrid technologies in 2013. The show offered a unique opportunity to focus on the strategic print challenges of today.

For the independent channel, the “Production” space is often associated with the Quick and Small Commercial aka “Print-for-Pay” market (often, not so affectionately referred to as the ‘Print-for-NO-PAY’ market by many independent dealers).  I won’t delve into the challenges associated with servicing this particular sub-set of the market; the true opportunity for the channel is in the “Print-at-Cost” environment:

  • In-Plant Printers/Corporate/Government/Education Print Centers
  • Sign & Display Shops/Wide Format Printers
  • Marketing/Creative Services Professionals
  • Package & Label Printers & Converters
  • Mailing & Fulfillment Professionals
  • Newspaper Printers/Publishers
  • Photo Imagers & Retailers
  • Book Printers/Publishers
  • Transactional Printers
  • Media/Print Buyers

Despite continued weakness in the U.S. economy, US print service providers are investing in transformative technology such as creative layout, variable data, print e-Commerce, cross-media marketing and workflow automation solutions to grow their business. Integration, automation, and application solutions are at the cornerstone of profitability for the printing industry. http://InfoTrends’ Global & North American Print Production Workflow Market Forecast: 2012-2017 shows a 9.3% growth in software vendors’ revenues in 2012 and projects an 8.5% CAGR until 2017.

From an application standpoint relative to this opportunity, one area of note is that of Variable Data Printing (VDP). Personalized print volumes continue to rise driven by demand for personalization and are one of the driving factors leading to 11.7% CAGR in transactional VDP. Direct mail is one of the biggest applications for production digital printing, but better targeting and effective use of inserts will account for more growth here as well. 

For the channel dealer that is looking for revenue opportunities in a mature and extremely competitive industry, this represents an area of opportunity that deserves research, planning and investment. The question the channel frequently asks, given the negativity associated with the “Print-for-Pay” market, is “Does this initiative warrant the investment needed to launch, support, and incentivize my sales force in order to be successful?”

Ken Staubitz, National Sales Manager for BEI Services, which has been providing the industries only source for unbiased imaging device performance benchmarking, gave this guidance for dealers currently in this space and dealers considering this initiative. “The production market can continue to provide significant opportunity for the dealer channel.  For a dealer to successfully support production they must ensure its technical team has the proper training and expertise to support this initiative.  In addition, various inventory and logistic processes must be in place to ensure proper part and supply inventory levels are stocked and the product is transported properly.”

Added Horatio Hamilton, Regional Production Manager for Canon Solutions America “I will say that the ‘Production Market’ should be a direction every dealer should, at the very least, consider in their plans for growth.  First, there is a drastic increase in the service revenue per device placed.  The impact of Production units on sales revenue is also significant. The average sale of a Production color unit is $103,000.  This year’s show demonstrates one important message the independent dealer/channel needs to understand, and that is the need to blend equipment technology with workflow and software to drive profitability.”

Although the output/distribution of some types of information has shifted away from hard copy and print, the production space still can represent a significant opportunity. If you are an independent dealer looking for solutions to drive revenue, Production Print and Production Workflow (software) portfolios can provide an opportunity to re-engage with customers and prospects with integrated solutions to drive revenues and enhance margins.

One last note regarding Print 13, is that it reinforces that our industry is quickly changing. Konica Minolta’s presence was impressive on the floor and a significant portion of their space was dedicated to a “Solutions Circle" where attendees could learn more about the company's All Covered IT Service offerings, including Cloud services and managed IT services.  I know what you are thinking, “IT Services offerings on display at a ‘Production Print’ show?” It reminded me of the Bill Murray character from the blockbuster hit Ghostbusters, “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!”  Mark it up as another example of the continued evolution of our industry.


David Ramos is Director, Channel Strategy Service, for InfoTrends, a leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the imaging, document solutions, production print, and digital media industries. If you are interested in learning more about trends impacting the production arena and some of InfoTrends' Business Development Services specific to helping dealers be successful in this space, please feel to reach out to him at a leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the imaging, document solutions, production print, and digital media industries. At http://www.infotrends.com & http://David.Ramos@infotrends.com / Phone: 781.616.2151 / Cell: 407.416.4923.

About the Author: David C. Ramos

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