Once upon a time it was a big deal if a printer could say that they provided online services. Typically that meant a direct mailer who could also do email marketing or a purveyor of critical customer communications who could offer both printed and mailed statements as well as e-delivery. Those once great technological advances now seem quaint, like movable type.
These days for a printing company to say that they provide “online services,” they need to be offering tailored experiences for PCs, tablets and smartphones – and preparing themselves to support new devices. International Data Corporation expects 227.4 million tablets to be shipped in 2013 but that is actually about 2 million lower than their earlier forecast. What competitor ate into the tablet sales? Not print. Tablet growth waned due to the introduction of larger smartphones and to consumers holding out for “wearable devices” like augmented reality glasses. Of course the 227 million is still a 57.7% increase over 2012 units.
Tailoring experiences for these platforms, and those to come, is about more than responsive design. It’s not enough to have the same content formatted properly for the target device – that’s just the opening bid. To really get in the game, a service provider needs to understand what services are logical and desirable on the different platforms and be able to help their customers understand that not all content is best suited to a particular mobile device. In fact, some content may be better suited to print. It’s very hard to make the latter argument if you don’t have any expertise in the former isn’t it?
If a printer wants to be effective at keeping print in the mix it is important to understand the whole mix. You don’t have to offer the whole mix yourself, but you need to be able to craft a strategy that takes into account all of the options at the customers disposal and make the case for your own services in that context. It will be increasingly valuable to have partners who can help you execute on a larger portion of that strategy and to deliver measurable results.
The ironic thing is, your customers are likely in the same conundrum. They can’t do everything themselves. There are so many channels and so many things to communicate. They need partners who can provide online services that enrich their customers experience every time they communicate. Can your “online services” help them do that?