500 Digital Printers join in to hear from the leaders of the Digital Print Industry.
The 3rd edition of the PrintHow conference by Canon was held online on 25th of November from the Canon experience center in Germany in which more than 500 Digital printers joined in to hear from leaders of the digital print industry. The latest event took place after the second physical edition held in 2019 at Singapore.
With the motto of Inspire, Explore and Improve, the attendees had some exciting news with live demos on Canon machines and talks with experts on the trends in the industry and how printers can actually benefit from the available opportunities followed by a panel discussion with many questions from the audience addressed by the experts – all online. The pandemic has opened up vistas for companies to explore the possibilities of promoting their products online with possibilities of demos and interacting with people and answering to their queries from the confines of the offices and homes equipped with just desktops, laptops or mobiles. The topic of deliberation was titled as the transition from offset to digital this year.
The speakers did explain the Canon portfolio of digital machines like the ProStream 1800 which is expected to have over 50 installations worldwide by year end and VarioPRINT iX-Series which has over 75 orders already received from across the globe. Christian Unterberger from Canon said in his opening remarks that Canon holds 34% market share worldwide as confirmed recently by InfoTrends. This further consolidates the leadership of the company in the continuous feeding machines market. He also emphasized that it is a known fact that the combined power of print along with digital communication results in higher response rate and is a sure tell-tale sign of commercial prints’ success though in varying decrease all across the world.
Ralf Schlözer, a Digital Print Expert, while talking on the trends Shaping the Inkjet Adoption in Asia Pacific region, emphasized that the printing industry is not at all at standstill. Rather, the shifting demands and competition from digital media is altering the way we consume and produce print. He added “High-volume production inkjet printing is one of the latest technologies to address the demand for cost efficient short run printing, just-in-time production and value-added print”. Inkjet technology, according to him, has now reached new levels of maturity to compete effectively against traditional printing methods and alternative media channels and is opening new opportunities.
Though the traditional printed products like Newspapers/Magazine, Mass mailing, B/W statements and static catalogues may well be in decline but has been replaced by special interest publications, direct mail with cross media campaigns, smart transactional documents and BOD business has seen an upturn in the recent years, not to talk about Photobooks and POD books.
According to Ralf, the main drivers for transition from Offset to Digital was the performance, quality and media diversity of Offset which now is not a limiting factor for Digital printing with the inherent flexibility aspect available to printers today. Digitization of value chain, sustainability and modern print applications were other points he elaborated upon.
Inkjet today has reached a maturity levels which can amaze an Offset customer both in terms of quality as well as pricing. Asia Pacific region today consumes almost half of the world’s printing paper and the consumption of paper has only increased from 44.9 million tons in 2010 to 46.2 million tons in 2019. So, to say that printing is on the decline may not be a correct statement according to Ralf. The only difference is the runs are getting shorter, printers are adding more value to the final print with suitable supply chain re-modelling and the shifts in the applications.
The Covid 19 pandemic certainly has left it marks on the world and so has it on the print industry. But it is a temporary phenomenon, he says. In Europe, the average run-length of books declined by a third from 2010 to 2015. A typical traditionally published non-fiction book in the US sells 250 copies a year, whereas for a self published book it is just around 30 books. In the same breath, real time order data to start production has diminished the need for stocking. The availability of specialty and niche titles has only improved – there is nothing called ‘out of print’ anymore; the publishers have succeeded in drying out the risk of over stocking, damage during storage, currency fluctuation effects etc. the books have moved to stay in an electronic warehouse instead of being physically stored thus avoiding the above challenges.
The book exports from East Asia (China to be specific) had peaked in 2017 and are showing a steady decline with markets becoming more and more local, giving opportunities for local digital printers. The online market has increased leaps and bounds in the last few years in the APAC region and so has parcel shipping with China leading the pack at 26% year on year (YoY) growth, followed by India at 19% YoY and Australia 7% YoY.
Today Digital printers are taking advantage of the unpacking experience with products which would help sellers to give product tips and explanations along with new offers which can reduce complaints and returns as well. Moreover, the advantage of dynamic couponing can also be added on to the offerings in the parcels, all of which have big opportunities for Digital printers.
Talking of Inkjet technology, it started out with limited application and more of volume focus. Today, the technology has immensely matured and is available for different volume bands as well as almost any required quality levels along with considerable application flexibilities. This amply displays the confidence of the market when we see the sales figures of Continuous Feed Inkjet presses in US, Europe and APAC (though the APAC will take a while to catch up with the prior two). It is further expected that the Digital share in the printing industry will only increase further, driven specifically by the inkjet revolution. According to studies, the global value share of Digital is 2.8% but it constitutes 12% of the total revenue which in fact is a very encouraging note for every Digital printer.
The virtual conference had a Q&A session at the end with the experts from the industry giving answers to queries from the audience. All in all, the event was a great effort by Canon for the Digital Print Industry with many insights worth sharing with our readers. Good luck Digital Printers!