Why diversification is key for long-term success

Rob Brown, senior manager business development, industry print, OKI Europe Ltd, explains how print service providers (PSPs) can expand their services to see profits and their customer base grow.

After a challenging year for the printing industry, print service providers (PSPs) need to balance the financial implications of the pandemic against increasing consumer pressures to evolve their services and meet heightened expectations. The growing demand for personalisation and smaller orders combined with the current supply chain issues and skills shortages means PSPs must diversify or risk losing customers and closing their doors. So, where should they start?

Win new customers with customisation

Customers have long demanded personalised products and services but many PSPs still lack the resources and capabilities to turn customisation into profit. Historically, many have steered away from printing personalised products due to time limitations and high costs associated with small printing volumes. However, printing technology has evolved, meaning printing professional quality in short-runs is now possible with solutions such as transfer media printing.

Enter the T-shirts and merchandise markets

Transfer media printing also offers great opportunities for PSPs to boost revenues by entering new markets, such as the garment and merchandise markets. Providers can quickly and efficiently print customised garments and a wide range of promotional merchandise on a broad selection of substrates. Unlike direct-to-garment (DTG), screen printing or embroidery, transfer media printing is highly cost-effective , requiring a low upfront investment, no setup costs and the ability to customise almost any substrate. Transfer media printing also ensures PSPs don’t have to turn smaller jobs down and can meet customisation demands quickly and cost-effectively.

Unwrap packaging potential

Another lucrative opportunity for PSPs is the packaging market which is expected to grow to €416.5bn by 2026. Reports suggest that 63% of packaging professionals feel personalised packaging increases sales and 52% say it positively impacts customer loyalty. Customised packaging also offers consumers a VIP experience when receiving orders or gifts and allows them to better connect with the brand and product.

With the right technology, PSPs can make short-run packaging printing more viable and profitable, while improving sustainability. With no minimum volume required and by printing only the orders that have been placed, wastage is reduced for both PSPs and customers. Furthermore, customers can benefit from sustainable packaging options, without compromising on quality. A recent survey found that over a third of online shoppers would not make a purchase from a fashion company if they discovered its packaging wasn’t eco-friendly.

Unleash the power of labels

An extension of packaging, labels also offer a wealth of opportunities to PSPs looking to increase revenue. From product packaging to personalisation, labels provide the finishing touch, luring consumers with eye-catching colours and instantly recognisable branding. They also play an important role in health and safety, warning people of the hazards or allergens or highlighting promotions and price-drops. Innovative LED printing technologies make it easy and fast to produce high-quality labels from one to many, on-demand, on a wide variety of materials with vibrant colours for a captivating appearance.

One PSP that has expanded its customer base by enhancing its label printing offering is Urlichs & Pape4. With reduced demand for labels produced using traditional label printing processes such as offset and thermal transfer printing, it needed a solution for printing coloured adhesive labels. By installing OKI’s Pro1050 Label Printer, the company now produces more labels, in lower volumes, on different media, in less time and at a lower cost.

Push the boundaries of creativity on any substrate

PSPs wanting to become more competitive and expand their customer base by entering new markets should also consider the role designs and colours play in grabbing attention. Today’s digital LED printing technology allows PSPs to push the boundaries of creativity and make the colours pop on the smallest, most complex patterns. Whether printing CMY+WHITE or adding white toner as a fifth colour, PSPs can offer affordable, high-quality designs with the whitest white and the darkest dark on substrates they wouldn’t think possible in short-runs on a compact digital LED printer.

A bright future ahead

For PSPs willing to open themselves up to change, digital LED printing technology, designed to complement existing litho, flexo, large format digital and screen-printing technologies, can offer a whole new world of lucrative opportunities. From branded labels, to customised garments and merchandise as well as powerful packaging, PSPs can expand their service portfolio and boost profitability easily and cost-effectively.