Industry Insights: Championing the Wider Opportunities for Printers

The strong visitor audience at FESPA Digital 2012 in Barcelona, Spain (February 21-24th) spoke volumes about the ambitious aspirations of business owners and managers in the digital wide-format sector. With over 12,000 international visitors from over 110 countries, this clearly indicates that this global community of PSP’s have their own distinct set of business drivers and are hungry for new ideas to diversify and grow their business.

FESPA has been championing the wider opportunities for printers to advance their business for some time. Covering production process improvements, new business models, innovative printed products, new niches, alternative substrates, different routes to market, and since 2004 we’ve highlighted the importance of planet friendly approaches to win business from major brands.

Adapting their business approach has helped wide-format printers to steer through the recent economic downturn.

The theme for FESPA Digital 2012, ‘Explore the Wider Opportunities’, as highlighted in my last column for WFI, really did resonate with printers who visited the show. It should be very motivating for the industry that over 45 percent of visitors were Spanish, despite their country’s economic confidence.

As a community, printers are becoming a lot more proactive and resourceful. They are beginning to understand the potential that comes from taking a closer look at their existing print devices and realising their capabilities to do a lot more for their business.

Wide-format printers are creatives who seem to have welcomed the prospect of investigating new business opportunities. This could be related to the fact that technology in this sector is so flexible with the scope to create opportunities just by switching media or inks.

We also saw a number of significant new technology launches at the show. Vendor confidence will drive innovation among end users and enhance product choice, ultimately to benefit the whole community.

The fact that printers are scoping out wider opportunities ‘beyond the engine’ indicates a shift in focus, signifying that the market is maturing. Rewind five years, and we would have seen printers focused single-mindedly on the output engine as they transitioned to digital. Now printers are in a process of revaluating their investment strategy. Digital technology is proven, robust, and effective.

Powerful RIPs or workflow automation tools, for example, can significantly boost the efficiency of printing and finishing devices, advancing make-ready time and optimizing print and cut applications. Color management software can make the difference between ordinary and outstanding for vibrant graphic applications. If printers can assure customers that they can safeguard color consistency across multiple jobs, this could be the key to gaining and retaining business from major brands.

These technologies were showcased at Print Shop Live! at FESPA Digital 2012. A FESPA feature which was first launched in the United States in 2011—a valuable interactive presentation offering European printers their first opportunity to tour a real end-to-end workflow within a FESPA show!

One visitor experience at FESPA Digital 2012 that drew a lot of attention was Big Buck$ Cafe and Hall of Fame. Big Buck$ Cafe saw visitors sipping their café con leche within an innovative working cafe and WiFi zone within the show. This experience enabled visitors to see close up how digital print can enhance everything from POS and signage, to floors and walls, to furniture and fashion.

The FESPA Hall of Fame is an international award which recognises the leading lights of the wide-format print community. The 400 nominees received over 6,000 votes from over 40 countries. Rich Thompson from AdGraphics in Fort Lauderdale, FL, was crowned Printer of the Year 2012. Rich is a testament to the dedication, innovation, and professionalism of our global community. Winning this accolade was a proud moment for him on both a personal and professional level.

The next Hall of Fame will continue in 2013 and we’re back at the drawing board to develop new and exciting features at FESPA’s flagship event in London next year. Digital print was the focus for Barcelona; however, London will showcase the spectrum of innovation and inspiration for digital, screen, and textile printers.

The Olympic city of London is steeped in innovation in the areas of business, retail, technology, design, architecture, and fashion. London is a natural destination for North American visitors to FESPA 2013, delivering a European market perspective, in an English speaking country.

We’re looking forward to our best show yet and to seeing visitors from all over the world, especially our friends in America.