OPS2024: Entering a new era of print

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Following the keynote speech, visitors on the first day of the Online Print Symposium can traditionally look forward to the presentation by Bernd Zipper, CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH and from the outset a co-organizer of the OPS. This year, he spoke of a new era of print and of the fact that we have never had so many opportunities to earn truly good money with print. In doing so, he echoed Henrik Müller-Hansen’s positive sentiment – but warned that we need to understand which rules have changed.

“Complaining about inflation, customer behavior, energy and material costs or greenwashing won’t get you anywhere. It is also no longer about the size of the print run, because print should no longer have the image of a disposable product. It’s about the individual, genuine value of print. Because the age of mass production is over,” says Zipper. Instead, he says, we need to focus on trends and market drivers such as new inkjet technologies, mass customization, sustainability and social commerce. “Artificial intelligence is accelerating practically every one of these trends,” Zipper explained.

Recovery of online printers

The aforementioned trends have long been making themselves felt in the industry. For some time now, print shops have been feeling the trend towards shorter print runs, cost constraints and the obligation to be more sustainable – including in the online printing business. 

In Germany, this is by far the most developed area in terms of the use of online stores and portals for print products. According to Bernd Zipper, the market is well developed and is benefiting from successful digitalization in companies, particularly in the B2B sector. Print shops in the Netherlands, the UK, France, Italy and Spain are catching up with the digitization of infrastructures in companies and Belgian, Austrian and Swiss print shops are also developing – more slowly, but steadily. Poland has so far benefited from low labor costs, which is why many companies are using Poland as a production location. The online printing market is developing steadily there, but at a slower pace in comparison.

Against this backdrop, the largest online printers in D/A/CH have recovered well after the coronavirus crisis and continued to grow to EUR 2.35 billion. Prices for typical online print products have also calmed down again after the energy and paper price shock in 2022, as the zipcon Online Print Price Index (ZOPI) shows. Although they are still at a higher level than at the start of the ZOPI, they have not risen recently.

Responsible printing

However, even if the industry has survived the previous crises, it is not “business as usual”. “The days of waste are over,” stated Bernd Zipper after his excursion into the figures of online printing and established a chain of reasoning, the effects of which may not be to the liking of every printer. However, they are indispensable for the efficient use of resources, waste reduction, capacity reduction, the optimization of production processes and better profit margins: “Individualization is the ‘new gold’ and print on demand is king.” So there is no doubt that less will be printed in the future. However, print will become more valuable if the new “responsible printing” formula is followed.

This gives printing a new value and asserts its key position in a networked world: “Print products stand the test of time. They are therefore a fixed constant. People are learning this again,” said Zipper and concluded: “The use of current trends and the application of AI are the basis for the online printing of the future.”

Encouraging change

Online printing has long been a guarantee of success in the printing industry, but crises, changes in the living conditions of entire generations and new AI applications are presenting companies worldwide with new challenges. Online printers are feeling the impact of new sales channels and are looking for answers and guidance for the coming years. The first two presentations gave visitors to the OPS an idea of the trends and (positive) changes that lie ahead for the industry.

This is not solely due to AI and not solely due to the age of mass customization print proclaimed by Bernd Zipper, as the term can also be used as a placeholder for print on demand, personalization and individualization as well as the printing of smaller units. This does not mean that only print runs of 1 will be printed. There will still be newspapers and magazines in comparatively large print runs, but only in exceptional cases in the millions. There will still be flyers with a print run of 500 or personalized direct mail campaigns with a print run of 100,000. That’s not exactly a small print run.

But it will require new technology. And for print shops, all campaigns will sooner or later be permeated by artificial intelligence.

Note: In the coming days and weeks, short articles about the presentations at the Online Print Symposium 2024 will be published in loose succession here on beyond-print.de.

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OPS2024: Entering a new era of print
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OPS2024: Entering a new era of print
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Following the keynote speech, visitors on the first day of the Online Print Symposium can traditionally look forward to the presentation by Bernd Zipper, CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH and from the outset a co-organizer of the OPS. This year, he spoke of a new era of print and of the fact that we have never had so many opportunities to earn truly good money with print. In doing so, he echoed Henrik Müller-Hansen's positive sentiment - but warned that we need to understand which rules have changed.
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Beyond-print.net

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