The clamour for colour output is everywhere. You hear it from suppliers promoting their latest must-have technology. You hear it from customers wanting to stay ahead of the curve. The reasoning is simple – colour is the future, colour can set you apart and help your business grow. But such cheerleading is easy. Little is ever said about the realities of making such a commitment, the challenges involved in migrating from a predominantly monochrome toner-based set-up to one centred on high-quality, full-colour inkjet production.
This state-of-the-art technology is now truly outstanding in terms of quality and productivity – and such excellence is reflected in the price. Understandably, businesses are seeking reassurance before investing at this level.
Core to any technology investment is the knowledge that the technology will remain cutting-edge long after purchase, giving the business time to generate substantial return. This is certainly the case for colour print. The technology is impressive and it is here to stay. But where can it really start to deliver?
Colour print can open the door to more revenue opportunities and help to differentiate your business. The provision of colour can potentially make the relationship with the customer more ‘sticky’, meaning that their reliance on your service provision increases with every new job that you fulfil for them. Your service offering might expand to encompass more than print – perhaps taking on graphic design and forms layout, for example.
Businesses considering the move towards high-quality, production-volume colour print are looking for dual lines of opportunity in order to achieve return on investment. First, they are looking to replace existing work processes with improved automation, quality and efficiency. Secondly, they are seeking to identify future workflows that will sustain for the next three to five years.
The White Paper Factory concept is providing ambitious print firms with food for thought. Put simply, plain white paper and envelope stock is printed and personalised on demand. Immediately, businesses have greater flexibility in terms of the type of work that they can process and greater efficiency when it comes to switching between jobs and co-mingling workflows. This can eliminate the need for costly pre-printed shells and the associated storage of this material.
Switching to colour need not happen in one radical sweep. Technology exists to enable colour to be added on a modular basis – for example, using a full-colour envelope printer in-line with an inserter.
In general, it is those businesses acting now – having scoped a business plan and sought expert advice from partner suppliers – that stand to benefit from market opportunities.
This urgency is highlighted by a recent example from Scandinavia. One business opted against making the investment into colour print, instead deciding to continue using pre-printed stock. Within six weeks, the organisation had lost 50% of its business due to the fact that a major customer had chosen to implement its own White Paper Factory solution.
With this loss of turnover, the investment into colour became proportionally more expensive, with the result that the business concerned is now outsourcing any colour work.
There is no one-size-fits all approach to colour investment. Businesses contemplating such a move should spend the time talking to experts in order to understand the potential of today’s technology and to formulate a clear business plan.
By speaking to the right people you can take the first step on the transformation path, taking your business from respected commodity player to stand-out, cutting-edge colour print production expert.
Simon Illingworth is product marketing manager at Pitney Bowes
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