02 March 2020 Digital Printing Technologies

Printers lag behind online shift

Web to print is not new, but its application is not widespread.

There was an eyebrow raising line in the BPIF's most recent Printing Outlook report. It was not that the most important issue for so many printers is that they feel others are under cutting them. That is merely disappointing. We know that consumption of paper is in decline and that this must mean that demand for print is in decline. Fierce price competition is an inevitable sign of overcapacity. Printers need to offer more in order to overcome these pressures.

The nugget in the report that is so stark is that 53% of those surveyed generate zero revenue from web to print and that for 88% in total, online orders represent less than 10% of their sales. This is simply frightening. The success stories of the last decade have been online printers, growing from zero to account for £100 million or more of print sales. In a shrinking market this is money that has moved from printers that continue to seek work in a conventional way. But the great print buying public no longer wants to work in this traditional way.

Today's buyers want to interact and place orders online, just as they have moved away from the high street to the likes of Amazon for the majority of their purchasing. For every Woolworths, Debenhams and Mothercare print has an Anton, Howard Hunt and now Taylor Bloxham. The world is changing and given that so few printers are engaging with web to print, it suggests that printers are being cast adrift. This may be the fault of software providers and a failure to market this technology properly, but ultimately it is has to be the fault of printers themselves.

Gareth Ward