In terms of the future, Pinard sees online printing becoming more of a service to both small and medium-sized businesses, as well as large companies or enterprises. For large companies, he noted online printing will take the form of private online portals that are only available to a company's employees.
"These private portals allow them to order commonly printed items such as business cards and stationery as well as enabling them to facilitate and manage all forms of customer communications from marketing, sales and customer support or anyone with customer-facing responsibilities," he said. "As a result, large companies will be able to control the message and delivery medium—print, e-mail or mobile devices and will benefit from tightly managed but decentralized customer communications with centralized cost and brand control."
Pinard also commented that mobile computing through smart phones and tablets will take on a bigger role as these devices become more prevalent. He predicted, in five years or even sooner, people will all be able to upload business cards and presentations to an online printer while they are waiting to catch a plane in one city and have them printed and waiting for them when they land in another.
"In fact, just this month, 48HourPrint.com has released a new mobile app, with versions for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. The app offers a convenient way for customers to gain instant pricing, track print orders and instantly communicate with 48HourPrint.com's customer service department via a one-click "Call Us" or an e-mail button," Pinard added.
Hoffman declared this a revolutionary time that printers should embrace.
"Printers must adapt to the changing expectations of the consumers," she encouraged. "Possibly for the first time ever, customers are coming to printers with expectations not necessarily based on what they get from other printers, but with expectations based on what they are getting from other Internet-based vendors across all industries. Dealing with a customer base that is not necessarily print-centric means understanding where customer expectations are coming from and how to translate them into a website and products."￼