Buckle Up, Print Industry: Balance of 2016 will be a Wild Ride

If the past several months serve as any indication, then the remainder of 2016 should be a wild ride for the printing industry.
A quick recap of all that’s happened thus far: Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store (yes, you read correctly); print was proclaimed as the new ‘new media’; companies operating exclusively through e-commerce began turning to print catalogs to boost online sales; e-book sales dipped, and print book raised.
There’s also the unparalleled growth the US commercial printing industry is experiencing – twenty-one months of consecutive shipment increases compared to the prior year.
All that excitement, and that’s without even acknowledging drupa, the industry’s equivalence of the Olympics, is just over a month away. Buckle up, here are six predictions for the balance of the year ahead:

  1. Inkjet as a change agent

Inkjet will continue to dominate the headlines as a leading change agent.
If you’re unfamiliar with its advantages, inkjet brings to a higher volume band all the benefits of digital printing – including personalization, just-in-time manufacturing, workflow automation, high-speeds and productivity
Xerox has made significant investments in this space, both through our acquisition of Impika and the development of new products. One example is the Rialto 900 Inkjet Press, which aims to make this technology accessible to greater number of print providers by breaking down traditional barrier to entry such as cost of ownership and footprint.

  1. Cloud-based workflows as the new standard

As opposed to merely being an option, cloud-based workflows will become the norm.
With a growing strain being placed on budgets and availability of resources, print providers will turn to their trusted suppliers for cloud solutions, effectively eliminating large upfront capital costs and the need for dedicated IT support. This past year, Xerox launched new cloud-based versions for FreeFlow Core and FreeFlow Digital Publisher.

  1. Solidification of print in the digital marketing world

As the digital world becomes increasingly saturated, smart marketers are looking to print as a means to truly stand apart and cut through the clutter. However, for more digital marketers to embrace this medium, greater instances of personalization and customization will be needed. This will help foster strong and lasting connections among end-users as communications cater to their needs and interests.

  1. Growth within packaging, catalog and direct mail markets

We expect to see the greatest growth in these three markets over the coming year, as each are supported and driven by personalization, regionalization and customization. In today’s marketing landscape – these are all major must-haves.

  1. Emphasis on marketing services

To thrive in an Omni-channel world, many print providers are complimenting the print services they already deliver with new marketing services and capabilities. This transition strategically aligns their business with marketing and creative professionals.
Those having the most success transforming their business model understand the value of business development tools and aren’t afraid to commit time and resources to ask for help and guidance.

  1. Tightened relationships with print specifiers

In the digital marketing world, creative agencies play a pivotal role in the evolution of print. These firms specialize in the nuances of bringing value to the media landscape, understanding the unique benefits the printed medium brings. It is important to network closely with this group, as their clientele relies heavily on their expertise and recommendations in specifying media, such as print.
What are your predictions for the printing industry during the balance of the year?

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