Sounding Off on Online Print
On March 31, Amazon unveiled Amazon Dash. About the size of a pack of Trident, the device mounts to any surface via adhesive strip or plastic clip, and has a button that, when pressed, automatically places an order for a refill of a user-specified consumable (think toilet paper or pet food) from Amazon.com. Given the timing—the day before April Fools' Day—people thought it was a joke, Amazon lampooning the insatiable demand for faster, easier ordering and delivery and satirizing itself for perpetuating (if not outright creating) that demand.
But it wasn't a joke. The product, now available to Amazon Prime members by invitation only, is real. It wasn't Amazon being self-aware and poking fun at itself and its customers—it was an online retail behemoth embracing the simple reality of its market: Consumers want to buy online, and they want to do it as quickly and as easily as possible.
That's the big lesson for the print industry. According to PrintIsBig.com, by 2017, half of all print orders will be placed online through print service providers' websites, up from 30 percent last year and 18 percent in 2011. Print customers are looking to buy labels, packaging, tags and forms the same way they buy everything else—online. And while the print industry isn't quite ready for one-touch ordering on the level of Amazon Dash, it is making major strides to keep up with the demand.
We spoke to Mark Larson, vice president of sales for Zoo Printing Inc., Commerce, Calif., and Zarik Megerdichian, CEO of 4over Inc., Glendale, Calif., to find out what online print suppliers are doing to stay competitive, and what distributors can do to maximize their web-to-print sales.
Print+Promo (P+P): What's the most exciting thing happening in web-to-print right now?
Mark Larson (ML): There are a great deal of exciting new advances and happenings in the web-to-print arena. One would be the push towards mobile computing, with the majority of Internet traffic now coming from mobile computing, whether smartphone or tablet style devices. Zoo Printing has developed its own mobile app.