Events: The Online Print Forum

Print Business presents a joint initiative with the BPIF: everything printers need to know to make a success of e-commerce.

The saying ‘everything that can be bought online, will be bought online’ does apply to print – to a large extent. The BPIF and Print Business have joined forces for an event to bring focus to this hugely complex subject. Research has been undertaken via focus groups, interviews and interrogation until an outline of what printers need to know emerged.

Printers need to offer e-commerce. To what extent depends on their business, their customers, their repertoire and their specialisation. There is the possibility of partnering with the large online printers. And, of course, there is letting the world know what they are doing via marketing and search engine optimisation.

CONTENT: Keynotes
Starting with the concept of partnering with a large European online printing company, representatives from one of these will describe how they have their eyes on the UK print market and how they want to exploit the potential. They will describe how key to this is working with existing print companies for mutual gain.

Then a representative from a press manufacturer will present the other side of the same coin: how UK printers can exploit the UK print market themselves. This will not be the same old sales spiel but properly thought out enlightened information to enable a level playing field.

Ask a random person in the printing industry what the main barrier to entry into e-commerce is and they will probably start with technology and choosing the right web to print software.

However, our research indicates that the business model is key. With that in mind, the five outline topics are the building bricks to achieve the right business model.

Not workflow closely defined by prepress, but the factory workflow. From orders coming in to finished products going out the door, everything needs to be in place and performing at its best.

Finding the mix of plenty of low maintenance but low profit jobs and the well paying star projects is achievable. A panel of e-commerce experts, not necessarily from the world of print but with transferable concepts, will share their tried and tested techniques.

This is where workflow software comes in, absolutely essential to getting it right, but all the disciplines must be on point. From MIS and web to print right through to finishing, the panel members will highlight the pain points and how to ease them.

Online print purchasing can render customers down to invisible buyers and many want it that way. But they must be cared for just as if they were on the other side of the desk. Equally, unless 100% of throughput is online, printers find that there is a lot of handholding to be done for those who need guidance. The question is: artificial intelligence or face to face advice and when to use which?

Marketing and SEO
The printer who chooses not to market their services is not long for this world. And marketing has to include the dark art of search engine optimisation. It doesn’t get any more migraine-inducing than figuring out where to start, which rabbit hole to go down and how to avoid having every penny sucked out of the business. An expert with no skin in the game advises how to make the best decisions.

Just as every piece of print is bespoke, every print company is different. Having said that, this event is a conference not one-to-one business advice, so some categorisation is required. There are three strong strands, but those invited to attend may belong to more than one.

The Already Converted These represent those who have already started the online journey. These invitees are sourced from Trustpilot, Google ads, case studies in the trade press and the exisiting customers of suppliers.

The Wishers Those who want to start and those who have dipped their toes in, but have stalled. This might be lack of confidence, funding or knowledge. They are sourced from stories in the trade press, suppliers and the databases of the BPIF and Print Business.

The Not Interesteds (But Should Be) These businesses have ostensibly no interest but are prime candidates for success and of high value. They can be profiled by printing platform and technology platform. They are B1/B2 commercial litho printers with some digital offering, MIS, digital workflow and in-house finishing. They may have large format and might be persuaded to experiment in selling, say, banners online. If this is a success then standard format low value print may be next, and as they gain a better understanding of what is involved, more development may follow. They tend to operate in a range of markets and are not solely invested in one workflow or process.

A high quality event requires high quality sponsors. It is appropriate that the headline sponsor is technology agnostic, so will be a representative from the paper or finishing sectors. There will be session sponsors, who will have an affinity with the topic and bring their advice and expertise.

There is the opportunity to sponsor the dinner afterwards. Affiliated sponsors will take part in the tabletop exhibition, where delegates can visit for one to one advice and guidance. Further information is available from the BPIF’s Marcus Clifford.

The emphasis of the sessions is on discussion rather than presentation. Each topic will have a carefully curated panel of professionals who approach the subject from slightly different angles.

Each session will be guided by Print Business editor Gareth Ward, not only highly know­ledgeable on the subject and the technology, but also an experienced ringmaster who will bring out the best in the guests.

As well as the keynote speakers at the beginning, panels are being planned to comprise a mix of well respected, high profile experts and those who have been achieving great things behind the scenes.

The BPIF and Print Business are well known for holding their respective events in prestigious locations. Stationers’ Hall in the City of London is a favourite of both parties and Print Business’s round tables are held at St Bride’s, the current home of the London-based staff of the BPIF.

Research is underway to find where the appetite for attendance lies. The chosen venue will be accessible, appropriate and agreeably appointed.

The event will be held in September or very early October 2019.