The truthful answer here is an adamant “NO”! The days of purchasing equipment in hopes of landing more business ended some 20 years ago. Unfortunately, the press and the hype offered up by manufacturers, coupled with the fear factor threats they bring into your business centered around “losing your business if you don’t have these tools” are still effective in burying PSPs in new iron. When your press isn’t churning out enough product and it’s costing you serious make ready costs, then it’s time to buy a new press. I don’t know of a single case where a PSP will admit that owning a half million dollar digital press because the rep says you have to have it in order to keep your clients happy, has resulted in positive revenue to the PSPs bottom line. It’s added to their expense, their payroll and their debt. It’s added to the complexity and many still have yet to figure it out. In most cases, the digital presses are treated like quarter size production presses to appease existing customers with instant turns. They’re not being used for what they were intended as variable data wonders or on demand high volume short run one-to-a-few orders. Digital presses sit idle the majority of the time in some of the most successful print shops. Due to their lack of knowledge in how to discern their role in the on-demand digital marketplace, how to deploy processes and systems to appease the instant gratification of smaller print demands stumps them.
Just like iron, web to print isn’t going to land you new business. It’s one component in the area where you will learn how to bring efficiency to your business. It will reduce your cost of doing business and relieve many of the hassles that project based work currently causes in your life, the life of your employees and your customers. Web to print is about streamlining the process, eliminating manual processes, central control and storage. It brings the convenience of self service for customers (and internal people) who don’t want to have to have a conversation in order to process redundant orders. It allows them to have all of the information at their desktop with a single login to the portal or storefront before, during and after the order is processed. More importantly, it eliminates unnecessary internal manual tasks so you can focus your resources and your energies on landing new business. It’s a tool, it’s not a miracle. Every PSP should be focused on getting the new business that will bring stability in a market that is shrinking daily. This requires investment not only in web to print, but in the right people, the right sales strategies and the proper mindset to move into the new realm.
A recent colleague in the M and A business informed me recently that 4.3 printers go out of business daily. There are no buyers for their equipment. It’s a liquidation exercise and their book might be the only thing worth looking at. In many cases, they don’t get a dime even when someone professes to buy them out. They end up with just enough money to pay off their debt with a “promise” of money in the future for a set period of time if their book results in revenue for the buyer.
I don’t sell web to print. I don’t hawk anything. This is just the sobriety of the situation. If you’re a PSP not investing in the technology to streamline, reduce costs and thus be able to get more business no matter the size of the order, then it’s just a matter of time until the balance sheet turns red and the doors are closed for good. Web to print is a central component in serving the new print realm. It’s not the fix, it’s one of the key engines.