An excerpt from AP May 2020 – by MBE Parramatta owner Charles Batt
The print market at the moment is reminiscent of the period between Christmas and New Year. A couple of segments are very strong because they either have a specific business need, or because they have a customer set that increases spending when their leisure time increases.
Most of my business customers have currently gone into forced hibernation, but in this instance, because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t know when that will end. This market revolution has happened over six weeks, and no-one has seen anything like it before.
However, if we look backwards from the start of the year, there has been a dramatic shift in printing and finishing that has changed the market in so many positive ways.
For MBE Parramatta, adding value in print lies in constantly upgrading ourselves with new technology to allow us to stand out from the crowd, offer something completely different and exciting to our customers, and be in the best position to leverage the value add for customer satisfaction and retention.
We focus on our ability to use a wide array of specialty colours to dramatically increase our ability to add value to digital print.
In-house, my ‘main game’ is toner-based cut-sheet printing. My journey with Fuji Xerox over several years started with the ColorPress 1000. In the blink of an eye, that was taken out and replaced with the ColorPress 1000i which increased print quality. Then, at PrintEx19, I upgraded yet again to the new Iridesse Production Press, which is the new standard for colour with 6 toner stations, amongst other features.
When we talk to prospective new customers, particularly in the marketing and communications segment of the market, being able to demonstrate the specialty colours, finishes and brilliant print quality makes us stand out from our competitors. These are customers who are wanting the ‘wow factor’ in their printed pieces.
Beyond print, the range of specialty stocks, specialty coatings, forme cutting and embellishments available ensure we have an almost endless array of ideas to work with.
One of the obvious challenges to this is the investment required to enter these markets. New technology and specialty colour toners aren’t cheap. But I deliberately used the word ‘investment’ instead of ‘expense’ because the value that can be added to printed solutions brings its own rewards, and the reason to invest is to get a suitable return on that investment. For people wanting to test the water before diving in, the best choice is to outsource the jobs first until you can build your business case to invest.
In any market, the winner is often the innovator. If a printer keeps offering only the same tired solutions it has always offered, at some stage, the higher margin customers are going to go somewhere else for something new. Being able to reinvent your own business, and stepping up into new and interesting markets is one of the best ways of future-proofing the business.
Businesses that do not have a value-add strategy should, depending on their situation, upgrade to new equipment that allows them to offer more value-added products for their customers. If that’s not possible, look to partner with a printer or trade printer that has already made that move.
We can be sure that the future of print will constantly involve better image quality, a wider range of stocks, more specialty colour options, a wide array of embellishment, and finishing options that are either built into presses or available near-line at affordable prices for smaller printers.
The digital version of AP May 2020 is available here.
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