Rising to the Challenge During COVID-19
Let’s face it, the industry – and the world – has been in a brawl with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and I think it will take a while before it is business as usual and things return to the way they were; not just within our industry, but across many others too. Despite the obvious challenges print providers continue to face, I do think that by leveraging their strengths and capabilities, there may be opportunities to be seized – both currently as we continue to endure restrictions and lockdowns, as well as when we finally put the coronavirus in the rearview mirror.
Right now, it’s imperative that print providers have the right mechanisms in place to maintain business and serve customers where they can – online quoting and ordering systems that enable that, for example, as well as having a versatile and broad-based applications offering. Print providers should remain proactive and stay close to existing customers – even if business is currently quiet with them – while also offering a timely and responsive way of handling other customer needs. For example, restaurants and other food outlets may have changed their offering to take-out service only, reduced their menus, or altered their hours as part of that. They’ll likely still need to communicate this to customers and traditional printed collateral is one way they can do so. The same might be true for pubs and bars. It’s also a good idea to be contacting new customers to check when their businesses will be back up and running, and if they need print collateral or graphics to promote their re-opening etc.
Readying for the Return
Once restrictions are eased or lifted, there will likely be an initial surge in business for at least one or two months as print providers’ customers that were forced to temporarily cease business suddenly have the shackles removed. Customers will be looking to make up for lost time, so there will be opportunities for print providers. Again, establishments within the retail and restaurant sectors will no doubt be eager to promote their re-openings, as soon as they get the green light. From a practical point of view, it goes without saying that print providers should ensure they have adequate consumables supplies to address the demand and meet the immediate surge in business for one or two months when things start to get back to normal.
As always, regardless of whether it is coming out of a crisis like the one we are currently fighting now, or during a more favorable business climate, it is always good to look at differentiating one’s applications offering. There continue to be new innovations within this industry, and if you are a print provider, it is advisable to look at the way in which technological innovations can be used and perhaps combined in order to strengthen your hand.
The use of 3D printing within 2D printed graphic arts projects to enhance vehicle wraps and other display applications, is just one example. Taking that a step further, there are even providers out there who are integrating augmented reality technology as part of their offering, giving their customers a virtual representation of how printed graphics would look like in-situ in the real world. Essentially, using different technologies to extend your service offering is the way forward.
This is of course an unprecedented period for most businesses – especially those in an industry that can be competitive and tough-going at the best of times. Hopefully by remaining on the front foot, staying close to customers and being responsive to their changing needs, print providers can remain optimistic and reach the light at the end of the tunnel.