Web-to-print empowers international print recovery

Web-to-print is the new normal

Web-to-print -photographers choosing woman's portraits at the working place with two computers in the studio
Web-to-print -photographers choosing woman's portraits at the working place with two computers in the studio Photo Vpress

Tens of thousands of print businesses worldwide are contending with the challenges from declines in demand and how they can produce their products with resource shortages. Another problem is to engage with customers, and in this situation, Vpress is witnessing a very surprising, or perhaps not so surprising, trend international trend.

“What we have witnessed across our international customer base is nothing short of astonishing,” comments Kelvin Bell, sales director at Vpress. He adds, “There has been an intense and sustained migration for print businesses towards web-to-print and eCommerce as they adapt their offering to be purchased, specified, and personalized online.

“This really is a massive acceleration of the trend towards print businesses embracing digital platforms to add value to their customer’s businesses.”

Indeed, recent weeks have seen two substantial print businesses in South Africa turn to Vpress for support, as they have been especially hard hit by a Government lockdown that far exceeded what has been experienced in Europe.

Bell continues, “All our sales consultations were done via web conference. Our products were reviewed, evaluated, and qualified by the teams at Printafoil and Lithotech (part of the Bidvest Group) in Cape Town. Both are substantial print businesses supporting both lithographic and digital work, which has already started to be generated online.”

The teams at these two substantial print businesses both specifically highlighted the need for an eCommerce and web-to-print solution that was fully cloud-based and offered very rapid deployment, full technical and remote support as well as long-term implementation training.

A digital revolution

Bell explains, “These technology investments in South Africa are typical of a much broader global trend we are experiencing. In the UK, we have seen a spike in new inquiries as business owners take time to assess their technology infrastructure, but the approach is very different.

“Very few companies here are buying web-to-print for the first time, as most of our new business are companies looking to change their existing platform to one that offers better return-on-investment and a more sustainable business model.

“Many of our customers in overseas companies are coming to this technology for the first time. It is very gratifying to see how passionate they are when they realize the growth potential it represents.”

Surfing the wave

Having been founded in Cheltenham more than eighteen years ago, Vpress continues to live by its motto of ‘partnering customers to success.’ It has also witnessed a period of seismic sector evolution, branching out from being defined by ‘web-to-print’ to becoming a full and independent developer of eCommerce technology solutions.

With its New Zealand operation having opened a second office in Sydney, Australia, along with the recent appointment of Jean Lloyd as Business Development for the MEA (the Middle East and Africa), Vpress are confident about the future and surfing a new tidal wave of interest in its product offering.

Bell concludes, “To be honest, no one is shocked as we are in the amount of new business coming through, we really thought things would slow down. But many print businesses have been forced to stop and evaluate what they are doing now and adapt to a rapidly evolving new normal.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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