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Ask the Experts: Profiting from Print

Is there any one application that will give shops the biggest bang for their buck?

We asked six digital print specialists to respond to the current state of the industry and reveal what we should expect in 2017.

Big Picture: What do you think is the most profitable application in the market today, and why?

Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format, InfoTrends: There are many to choose from. Most likely printed sportswear; a one-off product can have a huge markup. Say a custom-printed shirt with $8 to $10 cost can be sold upward to $50 or higher if you have the desired art, photography, and such, and can make a stunning piece of work. This type of work could naturally go viral.

Mark Hanley, President, I.T. Strategies: This is a hard question to answer simply. In general, you can say print alone is not of much value per se these days. The more things you can do with the content and also with the physical product to enhance its value beyond print in different ways for each application group, the more likely you are to be able to build a living. That comes down to being tech-savvy, measurement-oriented, and deeply knowledgeable of your user market.

Marco Boer, VP, I.T. Strategies: The most profitable applications are the low-volume, specialty applications. The challenge is scaling them to larger volumes without losing the high profitability. Do you want high top-line revenue, or bottom-line revenue? Often getting to high profit might mean letting go of the core, high-volume business. It’s not easy to change.

Tim Greene, Research Director of Hardcopy Solutions, IDC: That’s really difficult to say because profitability really depends on selling price and operational effectiveness. There are shops that do very well selling conventional, paper-based posters, even though they are somewhat commoditized, because they have their production processes, including supplies procurement, down to a science. That’s only one part of the equation, though. I think shops do well when they have fewer “transaction-based” sales and a higher percentage of relationship-type sales. These are typically higher-margin sales where the customer recognizes the PSP’s expertise and values their ability to execute projects and campaigns. This comes down to a company’s approach to business, really.

Get more expert insight on the state of wide format, expanding sectors of print, eliminating the bottleneck, the reality of single-pass printing, digital marketing for PSPs, and standing out in a crowded market.

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