Originally posted by Mimeo in Perspectives.
Ever since the Internet became an everyday aspect of life, people have been saying that the printing industry is dead. With high accessibility to a variety of digital screens and consumers favoring digital sources of entertainment over physical ones, it makes sense that paper isn’t used as regularly. However, there is no indication that the printing industry is suffering at all.
In fact, commercial printing is on the rise. What They Think cited data from The Commerce Department which found that printing shipments in August 2015 exceeded $7 billion in market value, and that represents a 3 percent rise over 2014, when inflation is accounted for. Between July and August 2015, U.S. commercial printing shipments were up by $2 billion compared to the same time period in years prior, with American printing services earning upwards of $57 billion.
“The print industry shipped $86 billion in product between August 2014 and August 2015.”
Still think print is dead? In the past 6 months, commercial printing shipments have been worth over $7 billion each month, and that marks the longest period of sustained growth since 2010. Even more impressive, the source explained that printing shipment compound annual growth rates are better than the U.S. gross domestic product’s own figures, and the industry has shipped $86 billion in product between August 2014 and August 2015.
Print isn’t even struggling, but some organizations are having trouble keeping up with client demands and needs, which could provide some insight into why American consumers think that printing firms aren’t doing well. In reality, it was only the small printers that hesitated to evolve with the times, and this caused the larger, more professional organizations to become more popular among businesses of all sizes with a variety of print requirements. Jenna Weaver, analyst at Sageworks, agreed, telling Forbes contributor Mary Ellen Biery that the reasons for the print industry’s growth aren’t very obvious at first glance, but with some digging it’s clear that the most successful printing companies are adding services that are relevant to modern business requirements. Improvements in shipping, packaging and technology allow the print industry to remain as relevant as ever.
In today’s digital business world, those that rely completely on physical documents and assets are at a loss, especially compared to their brethren that put their faith in technology a decade ago. However, many companies cannot go 100 percent digital, and others simply don’t want to, as printed content provides benefits that cloud-storage data cannot.
The solution is Web-to-print – a service with investment of around $259 million next year, according to Howie Fenton, associate director at InfoTrends. With Web-to-print technology, employees are able to upload their content to cloud services and order those materials to be printed and shipped anywhere around the world. All types of businesses are taking advantage of Web-to-print, as it allows them to quickly and easily order, ship and receive additional copies of training manuals, corporate binders, posters, brochures and more.
With Web-to-print services becoming the norm in commercial printing and almost 80 percent of businesses deciding to use less paper in the office – according to CompTIA – the meteoric rise in use of on-demand printing should come as no surprise.
On-demand printing services allow organizations to order print resources in a piecemeal fashion. On one hand, this means that less paper is wasted. On the other hand, on-demand printing is a great solution for companies and associations that must frequently update and send content to satellite locations and remote offices or stores. Furthermore, on-demand printing services enable firms to order exactly what they need and deliver it overnight without shipping materials themselves.
Pushing print buttons now sends content to the cloud.
In essence, the days of bulk ordering are gone, and on-demand printing companies have replaced that process with smaller, more personalized offerings that can be delivered right to the front doors of stores and offices.
Digital Content Distribution
As more organizations turn to Web-to-print and recognize the value in on-demand printing, the use of digital content distribution platforms is growing. In other words, the print industry isn’t dead, it’s evolving and taking advantage of technology.
Now, businesses can upload content online and host it on digital content distribution platforms, allowing their partners, employees and customers to order branded print resources as they are needed. This allows all parties to access the same documents and contents, and those firms that host these resources can regularly update the materials, keeping up with client feedback and business process changes. Once organizations discover the power that digital content distribution platforms can offer, the printing industry will become more crowdsourced and reliant on its community, effectively keeping it alive for decades to come.