Advancing Print Procurement: New Approach
Some say print is going the way of the typewriter. Given the meteoric rise of electronic communications and the tools available for sending and receiving text and graphics, they are to a certain extent correct. Print, as most know it, has forever changed thanks to the Internet, social media and e-book devices such as Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle. And, this is just the beginning of a new era of mass communication that is changing how we access information. It's a cultural change as much as a technological change.
"Of course, saying print is disappearing as an industry is an overstatement," said William Gindlesperger, chairman and chief executive officer of e-LYNXX Corporation, Chambersburg, Pa. "Print, however, is changing… and changing dramatically. Printers are struggling. Predictions are about 9,500 printers in the United States will disappear by 2020. That would leave about 27,000 printers down from a high just a few years ago of 36,500. These are Printing Industry of America (PIA) numbers."
The ranks of print buyers also are thinning. There are about 23,000 corporate print buyers today and several times that number of buyers that purchase $5,000 or less a year of print—direct mail, commercial print, marketing materials, documents, labels, customized packaging, CR ROMs, premiums, logo apparel or anything that requires the reproduction of an image on a substrate (paper, plastic, textiles, magnetic media, etc.)
While there are fewer printers and fewer print buyers, according to Gartner Research, print procurement continues to grow as an outsourced business process within corporate America. New procurement methods and technology are why. Companies with robust procurement technology and large databases of granular market and supplier information are well positioned to bring efficiencies and cost savings to print supply chains according to Gartner.
This observation reflects the changing needs of an industry that is modernizing and becoming more sophisticated. Gone are the days when the buyer could just depend on a few printers from which bids could be requested in hopes that one would be reasonable. Many of those printers are no longer in business. It is incumbent upon the buyer today to use the latest in procurement advances to broaden its supplier base and strengthen its process for procuring print.