What do you feel were the main trends and key industry developments in 2022?
As we look back on 2022 there are some common shared experiences across the industry, particularly as the support offered by automating processes grows. We have seen a real shift as print businesses are placing even more value on increasing efficiencies in production, which requires less human intervention so staff can focus on more important tasks, while increasing uptime across all processes of print, from pre-press right through to finishing, logistics and fulfilment.
Alongside this, one of the overarching trends, and something we at Ricoh expect to see continuing for many years, is the focus on sustainability. Customers are holding suppliers more accountable as they assess their own supply chains, so are looking for more sustainable print options and solutions. As such, being able to guarantee greener solutions can help to offer a greater competitive edge.
How have the numerous economic, political, and supply chain challenges that have dominated 2022 affected you and your customers, and how have you reacted?
Prior even to this year, there has been a growing need for adaptable and flexible businesses. One of the ways we have developed our business model was by moving away from the traditional supplier-customer relationship. We have made it clear that in times of uncertainty our clients can come to us as a trusted advisor to provide the necessary insights needed.
Fostering these stronger relationships allows us to identify synergies that generate positive business outcomes that mutually benefit all parties. One of these synergies we have identified with clients is finding greater efficiencies in our processes by streamlining the network of our vendors. Our clients want to deal with as few as possible, however, this is only achievable if there is a trusted relationship.
How have your relationships with customers and their expectations from you as a supplier changed in the past 12 months?
To ensure a strong relationship with a client you must treat it as a partnership, and work together instead of as separate entities. Operating in sync enables you to provide support to all aspects of the business, generating added value, a level of trust and a natural opportunity to spark new business which requires a level of work, openness, and commitment from both parties to achieve this.
What do you expect to be the main trends, key industry developments, and biggest opportunities for printers in 2023?
Our prediction for 2023 is that inkjet will become more prominent, as it is a platform which produces higher digital run lengths extending the historic break even between digital and offset, we are particularly proud to be innovating and leading the way in this technology area. A trend which is also likely to carry on into the new year is the continued need to see greater efficiencies in production through automation but focusing on integrated workflow as well as robotics and AI.
Data is becoming ever more important as we look to create efficiencies in production, particularly around big data in printing that look at how printers will be able to deliver ROI on campaigns to brands and marketing agencies.
How can suppliers better help printers navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities in 2023?
It is crucial to become an advisor who does not solely focus on the production and output of the business but is able to support clients on wider challenges. We have adopted a delivery service that focuses on our customers’ growth by creating extra capacities which move away from the traditional relationship. Throughout the organisation, we have seen the benefit of providing post-sales business support as well as EDGE Business Development which is helping clients to diversify and grow.
How can suppliers do more to promote the effectiveness of print to broader business community?
For organisations to promote print effectiveness, there is a need to become more active across the complete supply chain. To demonstrate how effective print can be compared to digital campaigns and to be part of the creation/design process, not just a fulfilment of work. Working together with industry bodies such as the BPIF and IPIA as well as collaborating with other printers and marketing agencies will enable organisations to demonstrate the benefits of print.
Note: This prediction is taken from a special Briefing article in the new issue of Printweek featuring insights from industry suppliers, hence it does not follow the same question template as the other predictions.