The print and mail industry has changed drastically over the last 20 years in areas ranging from equipment to market capture. Some MIS products have evolved with the industry but others lag behind, retaining the core system and merely adding patches to keep it operational in relation to changing technology. In today’s competitive environment, you need an MIS that integrates current processes and anticipates upcoming demands.
Changes in the Print Industry
Technological, customer expectations and shifts in operational goals have all contributed to changes in the print industry. Key impacts are:
- Digital Print Technologies. The growth in digital print technologies has lowered costs and increased accuracy as well as offered a quicker turnaround to customers.
- Digital Inkjet Printing. This technology is gradually replacing offset printing with its speed and quality results in producing images and other graphics.
- Demand Shift. In the past, a company would purchase a bulk-order of marketing materials for a new product or service but today’s technology allows them to customize their materials to connect with specific market segments. As a result, print companies receive smaller orders for several pieces and must have the capacity to address them.
- Market Expansion. Print markets used to be geographically defined, with the exception of a few large online digital printers. Today, a company’s market share is defined solely by their technology and willingness to market to a broader customer base.
- Niche Markets. More and more print companies are choosing to serve niche markets, finding that they can obtain a better profit margin by offering fewer services to a larger customer pool.
- Inventory Management. In the past, inventory was fairly straightforward since it focused primarily on basic paper products and standard inks. Today, customers want expanded paper, ink and finish options, and expect it to be available. Printers must now manage a broader inventory base, have excellent inventory management and strong relationships with suppliers who can respond quickly to shifting needs.
- Customer Expectations. With the rise of online shopping, purchasers now prefer a digital order and fulfillment experience. As a result, web-to-print options have evolved from a luxury MIS add-on to a necessary service offered by a competitive print shop.
An effective MIS supports the operations of a print shop and provides the tools to be competitive in today’s market. As a result, your MIS vendor should be one that continually updates its product to respond to the user’s need within the evolving industry and deliver a system that:
- Reduces Touchpoints. From order intake through product delivery, the software should streamline processes to reduce costs and runtimes.
- Creates a Unified Workflow. The scheduling system should be able to integrate the latest printer technologies and seamlessly flow orders between digital and offset work.
- Receives all Order Types. Whether the order comes from a person stopping by the shop or from a storefront, your MIS must treat them equally, staging them based on the same criteria rather than prioritizing one type of order over another.
- Integrates Inventory Management. An MIS program must be able to monitor inventory levels and send notifications for timely supply reorders, which eliminates run delays and retains project profit margins.
- Seamlessly Supports Web-to-Print Services. Print shops must offer web-to-print services to remain competitive and their MIS must have the capability to both support this service and integrate its processes, from order acceptance through invoicing, without additional steps or requiring hands-on transfer of data from the web-to-print system to the MIS.
Older MIS products were perfect for the time in which they were developed, but many of the vendors have not made the commitment to keep these systems current to the changes within the print and mail industry. At Print Reach, our products are continually updated to address changes in both the industry and technology. We work hard to assure that our systems meet our clients’ current needs and are revised to address market changes. From our web-to-print MyOrderDesk system to Midnight and Printer’s Plan management information systems, our user-centric focus means that you will always have the best resources at your fingertips. Contact us to learn more and schedule a demonstration.