2018 will be the year of definitive affirmation of web-to-print dynamics: To read InfoTrends' 2018 report, global market growth will touch 70% compared to the previous year.
With “web-to-print” dynamics we mean the practices - increasingly common among the public - of manage printing opportunities using websites.
But it is not a question of simple cannibalization of small players by online printing multinationals: the World Wide Web also offers opportunities to small-medium commercial printers in terms of the possibility of communicating their product / service, of course, but also of streamlining of processes. The web sending of print files, the ability to request reviews and feedback, the ability to generate online pre-press previews, user-generated design through appropriate user interfaces ...
All these situations ancillary to the naked customer-printer dynamic can play one catalyst function in attracting new orders (or in the maintenance of the old ones).
Not surprisingly, the same relationship notes the evolution of many graphic companies towards the horizon of web-to-print e-commerce - a trend that is not only dictated by the ferocious Darwinism of the market: in the most virtuous cases, the development of an industrial asset online has somehow awakened the attention of investors towards the graphics industry. This interest was essentially at a standstill in positions very close to historical lows before the real-time interconnection with the public and work flows - consistent with the digitization of our daily lives - entered this sector.
After all, all the data concerning online commerce are convergent: the thesis of the expansion of the market is supported by evident numbers, such as those reported by the We Are Social & Hootsuite report dated 26/01/2017 (over 39 million Italians connected to the internet, over 50 million smartphone users) and the study - focused on B2B - of the PoliMi School of Management (2016) which highlighted the growth of the online turnover of B2B companies around 19% (for an amount of 310 billion euros).
On closer inspection, online is the same factor that - on the customer side - determined an increase in purchases via e-commerce around 15% in 2017 over 2016 (Netcomm, 2017, and Casaleggio & Associati, 2017).
So why look at digital, and digital marketing, with more optimism and confidence? For its ability to guarantee precision and speed at reduced costs, even on small print runs, leaving the field free for product customization.
Online Printing is not the future of typography: it is the present. A new way to print online, disintermediate, which allows for example to find the printer (or, in our case, the card supplier) through an internet search, to send him the necessary files or by mail or with a form on the website, to communicate in real time through chats and social networks to always keep an eye on the progress of the work.
And although digital marketing is colonizing large slices of the market, it does not mean that communication will be able to do without paper, printed matter and printers: different marketing methods will be used to reach different targets. Certainly in an integrated way (paper marketing that "talks" to digital marketing), but not exclusively (or digital or the "old stuff": no, it doesn't work that way).
Therefore, the survival strategy of small and medium-sized printers is not only directed towards the inside of their company, but becomes a product to offer to the customer: this certainly requires open-mindedness, determination and imagination, but it immediately becomes a surplus value when the graphic arts sector is also collaborative - as many of us already do - with the other links in the commercial chain.
- Infotrends, Road Map 2018: Photo Printing Trends, 2018
- We Are Social & Hootsuite, Digital in 2017 in Italy and in the world, 26/01/2017
- Wikipedia EN, Web-To-Print item
- Tech Economy, The digital transformation in the printing sector, 2017
- Netcomm, Net Retail - The role of digital in the purchases of Italians 1/17 - full version, 2017
- Casaleggio & Associati, Ecommerce in Italy, 2017
- PoliMi School of Management, B2B Observatory, 2016