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6 lessons Indian print industry can take from their western counterparts to repeat web-to-print success
India has grown in eCommerce and digitisation, but, we are certainly lacking in print digitisation. The printing industry in India holds a special relevance when we look at the pace with which it is growing; India is set to become the fifth largest market by 2018 moving up five notches from its present tenth slot. (Pamex 2016).
The Indian Print industry is more concentrated in label and packaging printing with print media also joining the league with a four per cent rise every year. The market size of the package printing sector is expected to increase from INR 53,374 crore in 2012 to 77,714 crore in 2017 and will make up 43% of total print product sales in 2017. Though the India printing industry has seen up waves in terms of using more advanced machinery, technology, ink, and paper, it still lacks in being digitalized and DIY for customers.
Indian markets and start-ups are concentrating more on areas of B2C etailing for fashion, food, jewellery, housing, being aggregators, cash back and mobile wallets but product designer software, a form of B2B etailing still strives for attention. Some of the Indian entrepreneurs successfully implemented print eCommerce, still a major chunk of print industry lack in IT literacy. There are numerous ways how modern technologies like Web to Print, Variable Data Printing, Automated Workflows, and MIS can help printers to run their business more profitably. Our western counterparts and some of the Indian peers have taken advantage of these technologies and gave rest of the industry major goals.
Some of the possible lessons Indian print industry can take from their western counterparts are –
1. Don’t consider print as more of brick and mortar job
Printing is still considered as a purely manufacturing job, but technology has changed it over a period of time. In India, Web t to print is mistaken for advanced online specialists or business community rather than for commercial printers. Whereas, many of our US and European counterparts implemented web to print in their commercial set-ups as well. Any commercial printer can make web to print a part of its business to improve operational workflow and improve productivity. With a self –service web to print portal, printers can easily reduce turn-around time for each printing job as there will be faster communication online. Plus it will help print service providers to maintain the cash flow, as most of the online orders are paid in advance and hence add to liquidity and fund flow within the company.
Print eCommerce sites work like any other e-commerce site where customers can view products, specify their choices, place orders online and then can receive them directly at their doorsteps.
2. Web-to-print is actually an infrastructure investment
Better machines, different inks, and plates, more variety of papers still matters more than a self-service web to print portal. Since all the earlier things are more tangible than software, printers’ community finds them worth spending.
Printers need to see and learn from some exemplars of success who have successfully implemented an online printing storefront for their businesses. vistaprint.com, zazzle.com, moo.com, and newfossil.com are some of the successful web to print implementations with more orders, more print runs and more business.
With better and big machines, one needs to keep them fully occupied to reach economies of scale which can be possible with Web to Print.
3. B2B e-tailing is gaining more grounds than B2C e-tailing
According to an article in Forbes, a 2014 report by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan notes that “while eCommerce has recently grown tremendously through B2C retail, many do not realize that there has been a massive upturn in B2B online retailing in the past few years, contributing more to the eCommerce market than B2C”.Many of the foreign incubators sensed the opportunity for the Indian market and rolled out a few of their ventures. One such example is printvenue.com launched by German Incubator Rocket Internet.
Large scale commercial printers can really look up to these models and web to print can help them in forwarding integration of reaching customers directly. Since they have set up to fulfill printing needs, all they need is a web to print with eCommerce.
4. Indian printing has high entry barriers for Start-Ups
Management lessons somewhat apply here, printing industry usually has high entry barriers as economies of scale matter in the printing industry. As the volume for print goes up, unit cost goes down. One needs to come up with either large set-up (Risk of market reaction) or smaller set- up (offering cost disadvantage). Moreover chances of product differentiation in printing industry are very less with low cost of switching from one vendor to another giving high bargaining power to buyers. Some of the successful print eCommerce companies from Europe overcome these barriers with web to print technology. Web to print technology allows you to differentiate products by offering design tools online for personalization tools; accepting online payments; offering click, order and delivery model and many such advantages.
A complete self-service portal increases the cost of switching from one vendor to another for buyers in terms of efforts and time, as well as assets generated by them on the current web to print store in terms of their saved artworks. Also, web to print portals enables suppliers to have high bargaining power with special discounts and seasonal coupons thus retaining customers.
Web to print allows product differentiation by offering personalization services like maintaining customer accounts where they can see previous orders and re-order, place orders directly, save time over phone and emails by live cost estimator based on type of printing.
5. Look beyond just printing and offer extensions
Offering an online printing portal can be common but adding frills to it like pre-designed templates, saved designs and re-editing, designing and direct mailing (using integrated mailing software) is rare. Many printers in the USA and other European countries design graphics and help in planning integrated marketing communication for their clients. They deliver their printed materials; mail them to the target audience, offer variable data printing and all these services just as an extension of core printing services. With such added service portfolio, they server as full-fledged print advertising and communications companies for their customers. A perfect example for this is https://www.ballantine.com/capabilities/ Though adding such frills and fancies can take your cost of implementation slightly up but then you can also charge the premium cost for such services and believe me your customer won’t think twice to pay for it as they are getting one-stop solution for all their business communication and marketing needs.
6. Marketing is the key
It’s not necessary that if you build a print portal with all web-to-print capabilities, your print orders will reach multifold in a fortnight. It’s a gradual process where marketing is the key and you need to be consistent with that. Small tips and tricks like active social media marketing, fresh content via blogs, free SEO tips like Google map listing, Google reviews, and other local business listings can help in getting initial traffic to your print portals.
We will be soon coming with a downloadable guide for small and medium scale printers with free tips to increase traffic to their online print store. Till then, stay tuned to our website.
Nidhi, a visionary with 10+ year of experience, is profound business acumen and a management capability backed by strong technological background. She plays a strategic role in the company defining the road map for all innovations & her comprehensive problem solving skills have led to many successful online print businesses. Known for her hands-on approach, Nidhi’s leadership style and her journey so far has been commended at many renowned platforms.
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