The Future of the Printing Industry

I've been told that the future of the printing industry somehow involves the CEO of Hotcards blogging about the future of the printing industry, so here it goes…

People are always asking me where the printing industry is headed. They do it almost slyly, like they know what my answer will be. But I like to try to surprise them. Instead of saying that the internet is driving printers out of business, I always say that the printing industry is headed where many other industries are headed…. ONLINE!

I'm what you would call a gadget guy. I used to go to Best Buy and Micro Center a couple times a week to go purchase whatever is hot and new at the stores. Now, I only go to those stores a couple times a month because I choose to do more shopping online.

Printers can use the web to get in touch with huge marketplaces and offer customers streamlined solutions just like any other industry. I think more and more consumers are getting comfortable shopping online and I only think that number will increase over time. Marketing budgets are getting diverted towards web advertising to some degree, but overall as services like printing become more accessible and low cost by doing business online, they become available to a much wider range of potential customers.

Some people might find my perspective too optimistic, but I believe that in the past we've seen how businesses that were originally threatened by the internet learned how to adapt and turn it into an advantage.

At Hotcards, we do most of our business online. We try our best to stay a step ahead or at least in stride with new online technologies. When web standards became a big buzzword for building websites we changed our site. As new upload processes were being talked about, we were implementing them. We have an accessible website with real-time pricing for our products, we've got a widget that clients can use to manage their orders from their desktops, and now here I am posting on our blog. We are continually trying to find ways to upgrade our service to our customers, and we use the internet to help us do that.

I think printers can stay relevant by becoming a resource. We are a printing company but I feel we are more like a marketing and delivery company. We are a marketing company in the sense that we have very creative people working for us who create logos, marketing materials, direct mail campaigns, company identity pieces and so much more. Printing is the end result of the marketing efforts we put forth for people.

There was a time when printers specialized in everything – design, sales, marketing, distribution. The internet is actually helping us, here at Hotcards anyway, get back to that full service approach, in a modern sense. So I guess the future of the printing industry might have a bit of the past in it, even though we're breaking new ground everyday.

– Columbus Woodruff


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