The global printing industry has a number of structural inefficiencies, including:
- the high percentage of jobs being produced somewhere other than the plant with the optimal manufacturing platform,
- wide fluctuations in plant capacity utilization, and
- significant price discrimination.
As these and other macro issues correct over time, the structure of our industry will change. The relatively recent emergence of print management is one of the most important new developments in the flow of today’s print supply chain, and projections call for huge growth in this channel over the coming years.
Print management firms can act as a direct sales channel that funnels a steady pipeline of high-quality work optimized for your manufacturing platform. With more than 39,000 independent printers operating in the United States alone, printing executives incur significant sales and marketing expenses in order to access demand and keep their equipment running.
Printers who struggle to operate at full capacity would likely find it advantageous to consider partnering with a print management firm. The continuous access to well-matched print jobs eliminates costly customer acquisition costs, allowing you to re-invest those dollars into manufacturing efficiencies and/or your bottom line.
If you are considering partnering with a print management firm, here are some suggestions:
• Rather than being a jack of all trades and a master of none, identify your manufacturing sweet spot and look to capitalize on that capability with your print management partner.
• If a meaningful percentage of your profits are dependent on premium pricing with select direct accounts due to long-term sales relationships or the absence of competitive tension, we would encourage you to re-evaluate your business model. We believe the most successful printers in the future will be those generating profits from competitive pricing behind an efficient manufacturing and service offering. Transparency around pricing will only increase in our industry (and everybody else’s) going forward.
• Market yourself by keeping your information—such as equipment specifications and core capabilities—current so that your print management partner can funnel the most appropriate jobs for your plant in your direction.
In the next few years, the industry’s increased adoption of the print management solution will lead to a myriad of changes:
- Significant reduction in captive sales representatives working directly on behalf of a specific manufacturer.
- Less price discrimination.
- Better alignment between jobs and the plants where they are produced.
- Better load balancing across the industry.
- Leaner manufacturing practices, which will drive greater returns for end-users on their printed materials, a critical element for stimulating demand for our products going forward.
These dramatic change—some of which are already underway—will forever alter the landscape of the commercial printing industry and its supply chain. For a high-quality and highly efficient print manufacturer, there has never been a better time to find a trusted print management partner.