Online printing is here and conquering the worldJuly 2011 By Melissa Busch
Online printing used to be for the few, the wealthy, the proud. But, because it's gotten less expensive it has opened the door for others, the little guys, to get into the game.
"Web-to-Print systems used to be very expensive and only big print houses could have afforded [them] in the past; now since everything is SAAS (software as a service)-based, the costs dropped down and small to medium print providers can enter this market easily," explained Refael Royz, co-founder and CEO of B2CPrint, which has its main offices located in Israel and New York.
"The number of print providers entering this market is growing by 22 percent every year. The number of end-users who are using those systems and ordering through them is growing by 26 percent every year," Royz said.
Royz, who has been in the web-to-print market for six years, added markets are growing worldwide. Since Internet speeds are constantly improving, Royz said, it has allowed online printing to move beyond North America, Canada, Western Europe and Australia.
"Now, we see a lot of traffic from Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East," Royz noted. "[They] used to be behind on it. [The speed of the Internet] and its accessibility created a global market of print providers that work worldwide/nationwide."
That is not the only interesting thing happening within the sector.
Ray Pinard, president of Boston-headquartered 48HourPrint.com, said he believes there is huge potential giving small to medium-sized businesses the ability to communicate one-to-one via personalized direct mail with simple online tools. Previously, this type of personalized marketing was either limited to large companies with the technology to do so or in collaboration with an outside direct mail firm or ad agency. In addition, Pinard said it required a good understanding of databases and related technologies.
"Today, small and medium-sized businesses and individuals can take advantage of personalized print using 48HourPrint.com's online tools. 48HourPrint.com customers enjoy the benefits of high response rates [from] personalized print, variable data and one-to-one marketing, that [were] previously either cost prohibitive or out of their reach technologically," he noted.
What Lisa Hoffman, product manager at Arlington, Texas-based PrintPlace.com, finds engaging is as customers become more accustomed to buying online, the inherent instantaneous mentality that goes along with that model has translated to expectations of much faster turnarounds.