“The reprographics side has really slowed down so we’ve looked at other areas,” states Talbot. “The retail area is a big area for us right now. That was pushed upon us because the reprographics industry just disappeared overnight. In 2008 the market started to disappear due to developments that went on hold. It wasn’t like a gradual decline. Within a month there was a 30 to 35 percent drop. Because there has been a slow down in the reprographics industry, it has forced us to concentrate on the other industries, large-format in particular.”
Vecci concurs that there have been shifts in customer bases for PSPs. “Océ has been on the forefront in developing new products and technologies to adapt to these changing needs and new customers. The shift to more and more low-volume, decentralized walk-up devices means we encounter many customers who are bringing in house these capabilities for the first time,” says Vecci.
“We have also seen dramatic growth in the adoption of color in technical document workflows—not only increased usage with existing customers but new customer groups that are able to capitalize on new technologies that expand their productivity and application coverage.”
Monino discusses the in-house trends and ways that PSPs might be able to enhance their business: “As a result of the trends mentioned before, many reprographics customers are fulfilling more of their printing needs in-house and in color,” says Monino. “One of the trends that we are seeing in repro houses is an increase in their facilities management business as a way to provide their customers with a more convenient service. The increase in the productivity and efficiency of color devices is also helping repro houses to serve the increased demand for color printing.”
PacBlue’s approach to the shifting customer base is multi-faceted. Talbot believes that one must seek out new markets but stresses that it is crucial to keep an eye on existing customers and markets. While the real estate industry has created a lull in some areas of the reprographics industry, there are still ways to stay in the game.
“We needed to stay on top of the customers that we’ve got and perhaps approach them in other areas that we haven’t been producing for them,” said Talbot. “At the same time you have to focus on getting out and into new markets. When the real estate end crashed, a lot of people put that aside and went out and concentrated on something else and basically forgot to look after their existing customers. You can’t afford to do that.”
Many are asking themselves what is in store for the reprographics industry. There is no true guide as to when the economy will turn in favor of PSPs, so many are asking themselves where to look for their future in business.
Monino states that future trends will include: “A continued shift from black-and-white to color, driven by the higher value of color documents; an increase in the facilities management business as a way for repro houses to maintain their customers and offer them a more convenient service as part of their printing needs; and repro houses acting more as AEC content managers, offering cloud services like plan-rooms rather than just printing services.”
Vecci states: “As users become more closely integrated with the output of their digital files, and with the increasing use of mobile technologies in the workplace, they are looking for new ways to interact with these systems—in how they store and access their digital assets, how they collaborate with other users around these documents, and ultimately how they submit files for output. Certainly, the ubiquity of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones will leave its mark on how we work.”
Talbot adds: “As a print service provider, we do so much more than just print. On the service provider part we need to be on the cutting edge as to what’s available out there. We’re finding that more and more clients are coming to us—even with jobs that they know we can’t do in house—to take it on and manage the outsourcing. I think just being a printer isn’t going to work for you—you need to offer more—unless you’re going to be a trade printer. You have to be very consultative.”