What's In Store for Online Print?
According to Forrester Research's U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2011 to 2016, the e-commerce market is expected to grow from 167 million consumers in 2011 to 192 million by 2016. That's a big jump, but the projections only quantify what we already know: E-commerce is changing the way people shop.
Just look at the print industry.
Online printing, or web-to-print (W2P), has maintained a steady ascent in popularity over the past decade or so, thanks to increasing Internet speeds and availability, reduced costs for W2P technology, and mainly, the gradual shift in customer preferences from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. Updated statistics are hard to come by, but a 2008 InfoTrends study, E-Enablement: The Future of Graphic Communications, noted that 66.5 percent of print buyers used web-to-print services that year, compared to just 11 percent in 2000.
It's no longer a question of whether or not web-to-print will catch on—it's about where it will go from here, and how the industry will take advantage of the ever-growing e-commerce market. We asked some of the industry's top online print providers for their thoughts on the state of web-to-print, and what advances, innovations and challenges to expect for the future. Read on for their answers.
• Edward L. Dignam, senior vice president, ASAP Printing Corporation, Salt Lake City
• Daniel Gaugler, vice president, marketing, Printing For Less, Livingston, Mont.
• Varaz Gharakhanian, business development, 4over Inc., Glendale, Calif.
• Matthew Jay, director, business development, Growll.com, Greenville, S.C.
• Peter Posk, president, BCT Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Print+Promo: How has the web-to-print industry changed over the last few years?
Varaz Gharakhanian: One of the biggest changes in W2P over the past few years has been the expanding scope of the products offered; it's not just plain, vanilla business cards and postcards anymore. 4over continues to be a pioneer in this area, developing and offering competitive pricing, fast turnarounds and high-quality print on an array of products from large format to plastic cards and foil printing (AkuaFoil). An increasing need to embrace the very latest technology is another significant trend; if 4over can't find what we need, we develop it ourselves. This allows us to operate more efficiently and produce superior-quality print.