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19 Jan 2018

South African commercial and industrial print trends 2018

Vaughan Patterson Product Marketing Operations Manager for Production Print
Production Printing Services

Printers have an untapped opportunity in packaging and online shopping

Trends shaping the industry are crucial to help commercial and graphic arts printers determine what equipment to buy, what products to offer the markets, and what services they’ll want to get the value they need to be relevant and grow.

Analogue print is growing much slower than digital but off a much bigger base. Analogue was worth $659 billion in 2012 while digital was only worth $90 billion. But analogue will only grow by $18 billion to $677 billion while digital will grow by $80 billion to $170 billion by 2022. That’s according to a Smithers-Pira report.

The per-impression profit is much better for digital than it is for analogue when you compare the volumes versus the revenues generated for each. Analogue generated $659 billion in 2012 off 47 trillion A4 impressions. Digital, by contrast, generated a much lower $90 billion but off a comparatively piddling two trillion A4 impressions.

Packaging is a major growth market in global print volumes. And personalising packaging is one of the fastest growing segments. That’s because online shopping is seeing phenomenal growth rates itself.

It’s a market worth R30 billion in South Africa alone. Black Friday in 2017, in South Africa, saw 260 000 online transactions – potentially giving brands 260 000 opportunities to engage customers when they received their packages. Online shopping is a big growth area since campaigns such as Black Friday reportedly dented traditional retail sales in the Western Cape during the festive season. And while online shopping used to be niche now only 63% of consumers surveyed by Visa in December 2017 said they preferred shopping at the mall.

Few brands have yet explored this opportunity in South Africa. But it promises major potential particularly in light of the many options and opportunities brands have to engage customers throughout the process. And they have more options now with the growing print options as well as those linking print back to digital content and channels.

Brands can use foiling, specialised colours on foil, a broad range of media types, even the digital links from technologies, such as the smart Clickable Paper, that definitely go beyond the brown box with a sticky tape logo.

The options and opportunities printers can offer their customers are a direct result of diminished barriers between traditionally discrete printing areas. Guys who traditionally did books can get into wide format today, garments, and more because there are no longer major reasons to segment the industry based on the print technology they use. Single, digital production devices are incorporating much more capability today than ever before.

Digitalisation may have commoditised print, which can lead to price wars, but it has also expanded the capabilities of equipment so that printers can offer their customers a much broader range of products and services. Being able to do so makes them more relevant to customers who want a one-stop shop for more of their marketing and other print-related needs.

That has led to another trend. Print sales are being forced to change. The opportunity to engage customers has shrunk. In the past you may have had 30 seconds to snare someone’s attention but today you have 10. It’s a general attribution of the trend to get everything quicker, for less, with immediate delivery and with more options. It has given rise to a host of innovations that more printers are offering their customers today, such as Web-to- print and just-in- time print, smaller orders and runs, exposed supply chains, and printers that gather customer data so it’s easier for them to conduct business with you, and solutions to maximise device busy times.

Another emerging trend is that innovative software solutions have given printers the opportunity to harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). Print shops benefit from optimised equipment and more by providing anonymous usage data to the vendor. And you get remote access to the devices for production monitoring purposes.

More capable equipment has placed more emphasis on training. Operators have to know how to get the most out of the kit. Vendors must ensure that operators gain a full understanding of what the machines are capable of and how to get the most out of their capabilities to give end customers the best quality and range of options. And print shop owners and operators must invest and allow operators the requisite time get the deep understanding of the equipment to maximise the investment.

Our industry is in a state of flux, as are our markets, and understanding the nuance of complexities affecting the change is far beyond the scope of a single blog or article. And, since every print shop is both the same as others but also unique in the way it provides its products and services to segmented markets, each solution must also meet those specific needs.

Get in touch with me so we can explore the best opportunities for you, your business, and your customers current and future.

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