As a ubiquitous technology that facilitates easy communication, the Internet also has influenced the dynamics of commercial print sales, allowing some printers to sell directly to end-users. "The most common imagePRESS digital press user sells direct to their customer," said Leighton.
Fortunately for distributors, sales direct to end-users remain the exception rather than the rule. "4over is a trade printing business model and we only work with print resellers and distributors," said Megerdichian. "The value of print resellers is the lifeblood of a trade-only provider."
The improvements in communication brought about by the Internet also benefit distributors. Toepfer noted, "The general ease of FTP and file transfer has made it easier to serve distributors across a wider geographical area."
He continued, "We understand that most distributors bring more value to their customers than most 'local' printers do. As a printer we value [distributors], they help us extend [and] multiply our sales."
Glittering technology and 24/7 worldwide communication weren't the only things the decade brought with it. For the last two years, the world—and the United States in particular—has been in the throes of a historic financial crisis. In 2008, the commercial print sector saw $387.7 million in sales. In 2009, that number dropped by 13 percent to $339.2 million, according to Print Professional's top 100 manufacturers issue.
"There is no doubt; the recession has reduced the number of transactions and the size of them," said Toepfer. "Our larger clients are buying less as their clients have reduced budgets." But he pointed out, "The recession has created a need for concern and caution in our industry, but it has also created opportunities."
For example, Canon has worked to make the most of its business by "putting additional focus on helping our customers evolve and grow their business despite the challenges of the marketplace," Leighton said. "We have been successful by offering advanced, highly customizable products and services to fit customer's needs."