Networking under Corona conditions: After the spring conference of the Initiative Online Print e.V. (IOP) had to be held virtually due to corona conditions, the fall conference 2021 – in compliance with 3G rules – took place once again in person. The host for the event on 26 and 27 October was Koenig & Bauer AG in Radebeul, Saxony. In addition, the IOP welcomed a new member company, mypromo AG.
At mypromo, the platform has set itself the task of supporting the promotional products industry in its digital transformation. The Wiesbaden-based company brings together manufacturers of promotional products with suppliers and retailers of such products. The focus here is on individual online stores, which promotional products retailers can use not only to make the leap into e-commerce, but also to tap into new target groups.
“Process automation and web-to-print technologies are becoming increasingly relevant for the promotional products industry,” explained mypromo managing director and board member Heike Lübeck. ” In this regard, we are very much looking forward to exchanging ideas with the IOP members and, conversely, we can bring a new and somewhat different perspective on the possibilities of online printing.”
mypromo AG was unanimously accepted by the IOP members. This means that the association now has a total of 42 member companies.
Between an order upswing and a paper shortage
In addition to the admission of the new member, the fall meeting of the Initiative Online Print primarily focused on current developments in companies in the industry. There were reports of an upturn in orders and rising sales – but also of the problems caused by the current paper shortage and shortage of skilled workers.
In addition, the focus was also on the effects of the Corona pandemic on the printing industry. Dr. Paul Albert Deimel, General Manager of the German Printing and Media Industries Federation (“Bundesverband Druck und Medien e.V.”) (bvdm) and Bernd Zipper, Managing Director of zipcon consulting GmbH, spoke about developments in productivity since the start of the pandemic. In the meantime, the order situation at most companies has largely normalized and is now back at the level of 2019. However, in all likelihood, they will not meet expectations for 2021.
According to an industry survey conducted by the bvdm, this is due in no small part to the challenges that the post-Corona era is bringing or will bring: strong fluctuations in orders and capacity utilization, a shortage of orders, and rising supplier prices, as reflected both in the participants’ field reports and the ZOPI (zipcon Online Print Price Index).
” We are seeing all of these challenges that print service providers currently have to deal with. But we are also noticing effects that could have a positive impact on the online print industry in the coming months. For example, we expect higher advertising volumes from product providers in the medium term, growing interest in B2B portals from industrial customers, increased print sales despite lower print volumes, meaning that printed products are becoming more valuable, or trends such as social media printing opening up new generations of customers for print,” explains Bernd Zipper, CEO of the Initiative Online Print.
What (online) print will look like in five years’ time
However, it was not just the current situation that was discussed at the fall meeting of the Initiative Online Print. Rather, the member companies – especially the software manufacturers among the IOP members – ventured a look at what online print will look like in five years. The key factors here include change management, a high degree of automation – from costing to fulfillment -, Industry 4.0 plus interfaces in all directions, and the intensification of customer relationships across all levels. After all, the market is changing rapidly and with it the demands on print service providers – and not just in purely technological terms, but also in terms of how companies are managed in the future. Anyone who ignores topics such as New Work, Mass Customization, Big Data, Closed-Loop Production or IoT, to name just a few, could quickly be left behind.
An outlook on future developments was also provided by Koenig & Bauer AG in Radebeul, which hosted this year’s Autumn Conference. Thomas Göcke, Head of Digital Business Transformation, demonstrated more than just what the new demands of customers mean for machine builders – namely, offering more proactive communication and service and being a strong advisor and partner to customers, who can respond quickly and also independently of location with the help of digitalization, intelligent processes and IIoT. IOP members also had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of Koenig & Bauer AG’s machine development. In the test center, they were able to take a close look at the latest printing and also finishing machines, which address the packaging market in addition to the commercial market.
On direct mail and turbo digitization
Other topics at the IOP Autumn Conference included the bvdm campaign on local advertising and information mail, including discussion of whether the opt-out should be changed to an opt-in procedure, and the “turbo-digitization” that took place in large parts of the industry in the wake of the pandemic. While sales of online printers in the B2B sector stagnated and even declined, companies in the B2C environment actually recorded growth rates of up to 20 percent.
The IOP members clearly see a trend for the coming year in mass customization. After all, companies that focus on customer centricity and individual wishes have a good chance of making a successful start in 2022.
The next IOP meeting will be held in the spring at the Schätzl print shop in Donauwörth. A precise date will be announced in good time.
About the Initiative Online Print:
The Initiative Online Print e.V. is a globally unique association of the leading small and large online printers in Europe to form an independent communication and networking platform. Together, the members actively advocate fair competition in online printing services and the perception of the online print industry as an independent sector in the global printing industry.