State of the Industry
Distributors report on the status of products in the forms industry
In the past, BFL&S has reported on the state of the forms industry, as a whole, from the perspective of manufacturers, distributors and end-users. This year, BFL&S' State of the Industry Report focuses directly on the status of a select group of products. By zeroing in on commercial printing, promotional products, electronic forms, computer supplies, direct mail, office products, integrated forms and bar-coded products, we reveal which products are finding a comfortable niche in today's marketplace and which are losing ground.
Traditional business forms products still hold a viable spot in the market, accounting for a significant percentage of sales. However, a recent report from Printing Industries of America (PIA) projects a decline of 5.7 percent in business forms shipment to occur between 2000 and 2003. Such forms include pre-printed forms, unit sets and internal forms—including memos and travel reporting forms, checks, stationery, letterhead and business cards. The report also indicated that multipart unit set forms, once an industry staple, have been replaced with database systems, where information is entered into PC databases and automatically distributed where required.
On the upside, commercial printing, promotional products and electronic forms have taken front-running positions. A demand for increased company exposure and high quality print ads has accelerated the promotional products and commercial printing business. And affordable and advanced technology have fueled sales in both large and small markets for super-efficient electronic forms.
Products experiencing significant changes include bar-coded labels, integrated products and direct mail pieces. Thanks to advanced computer technology, futuristic bar-coded labels fitted with radio frequency chips are slowly entering the marketplace. Integrated products are streamlining operations and enhancing workplace productivity with user-friendly solutions. And, in the direct mail niche, intelligent databases result in focused mailings and a reduction in wasted materials. In fact, PIA reports that targeted fulfillment services can move direct mail suppliers up the skill/knowledge ladder to higher, value-added services and potentially higher profit margins.