It’s Time to Go Print Shopping Online

The change to the digital print equipment demand ecosystem



German Sacristan


Print isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as buyers still see the relevance and effectiveness of print even during a crisis. In a recent InfoTrends Analysis for subscribers (“COVID-19 First Trends & Insights During a Pandemic Year”), supported by an SMB survey, one-third of respondents increased their printing purchases to enable business sustainability, while another third is planning to do so. This does not necessarily mean that print purchases are going to increase throughout the pandemic, but that many still see print as an important channel to communicate with customers or even general citizens in the case of the public sector.



Print Ordering Patterns

When it comes down to print purchasing, COVID-19 has accelerated the natural transition for some consumers and businesses to purchase online at an even faster rate. In the same recent Keypoint Intelligence SMB survey, half of respondents stated that they will increase their online print purchases; another 34% will probably do likewise, too. As more print buyers move to ordering online, this means that PSP competition is only one click away. It also makes print more commoditized, with price becoming the most relevant buying criteria.



The Digital Print Ecosystem Shifts

The biggest challenge is for quick/small brick-and-mortar printers that, for the most part, have smaller production equipment with higher running costs and TCO in their shops, which negatively influences their retail price. In their natural transition to online, they will have to compete with bigger online printers with very large production presses (including offset) that have very low running costs and, therefore, more competitive retail pricing. Additionally, some of these online printers benefit from lower real estate costs as location might not be important.


Quick brick-and-mortar printers should take advantage of opportunities to partner with others to gain the benefit of print volume consolidation, lower running costs, and a lower TCO. Another option could be outsourcing the print to a lower cost, online trade printer. There is nothing new about this: The photo print market has been promoting and selling in a different place from where they produce their products at a lower cost for some time now.


It’s Not Always All About Price

There will still be some print buyers who might need the prints produced straightaway at the physical storefront. But they should expect a higher price for that service than if they order and want next-day delivery. Having both options is a good strategy to keep customers by adapting to their needs of service and price, knowing that they can’t have both, mostly.


Smaller printers, even when they have online purchasing capabilities, should never forget the need to provide the extra value and differentiation through their personal relationships and support as they will never be able to compete on price with the big online printers.


The same scenario is also relevant to bigger PSPs that serve bigger print buyers without online purchasing capabilities as some of these customers are also starting to buy more online. The concern is that same Keypoint Intelligence survey shows that as much as almost half of PSPs do not even have online storefronts to better serve their existing customers.



The Bottom Line

All these trends are expected to shift and change the digital print equipment demand ecosystem as more print volumes and equipment sales will move towards the bigger printing presses with lower running costs and TCOs (especially inkjet).


At the same time, none of this means that print will shift 100% online—there will always be many brands and other print buyers who need the personal and strategic support that online printers can’t provide and will be willing to pay more to achieve a greater ROI.



Subscribers to our Print On Demand Services can log in to the InfoCenter to view “COVID-19 Market Trends During a Pandemic Year”. Not a subscriber? Please send us an email at for more into.