‘A business has only two functions – Marketing and Innovation – Milan Kundera’.
In the simplest terms innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas that are accepted by the markets, government, society and relevant stakeholders. And marketing is talking about your innovations to the markets, government, society and other stakeholders.
Print businesses need to be at the forefront of customer innovation because of the obvious reason of changing customer requirements and advent of digital technologies. These two are the most powerful factors why print innovations need to be directed towards customer problems and not to drive the sales or increase profit (that are actually the subset of customer delight). Print service providers are investing in new softwares, technologies, hardware and other business processes to beat the competition and cut the chaos of digital media. The question is are they doing print related innovations, here are few signs that you are doing customer related print innovations, adding to customer delight –
1. Customers are using your new feature – A web to print business with good business clients was going good job in getting orders, printing them and shipping afterwards. With web to print they thought of creating accounts for business customers having approval workflow management features, order history, payment modules and customized pricing. They went to vendor and filled in the gap from idea to implementation. Their business customers who were used to using different softwares took no time in adopting the features and using it.
Tip – The idea behind implementing print innovation is to simplify processes for your customers. This not only justifies the investment around the technology but can also be a talking pitch and differentiator for your business.
2. Getting repetitive orders from same client – Subsequent to your print innovation, any rise in getting repetitive orders from same client is one sign that your customers are happy about your print innovation. Customers of any tshirt printing or customized poster printing must be expecting tool to design their own designs or choose from a wide range of already designed templates to place orders. A web to print with design tool or in-built templates can make it easy for customers to order and can be factor to bring them back on you site.
Tip – Business innovation and existing customers can’t work in silos. Your print innovations need to revolve around making jobs simpler for customers and your team. Catering to tech savvy customers in the market, big players in the print industry are talking about investments in technologies like voice recognition, rise of intelligent interconnected printers and much more. This is going to work because the customers are looking for technologies like this.
3. Seamless Integration with existing business model – Every business customers and a defined business model. The whole business revolves around the same solving customer problem in unique way with their business model, this goes for printing as well. Print innovations that you are doing must complement your existing set of customers and business models, unless you are trying to come with the another business model. If the innovations fits well with your existing business model customers are likely to accept it faster, you can work with existing technologies and manpower saving lots of efforts and money.
Tip – Innovating business model is not easy because of the pre-conceived notion that what works and what might not. Small medium sized printing businesses should always look upto expert advice or third party consultants to make any print innovations. Attending industry events and networking can help in widening your vision around making innovations.
4. Invest in technologies – Print innovations in technologies or software is one such thing that still need more attention from small and medium print services. Software and technologies are always made to make lives easy for end-users and it can be for internal team as well as customers. Printers are usually in dilemma to choose between investments in hardware and software; though hardware is essential to be in the market, investments in software can actually take you ahead in the market or the competition.
Tip – Don’t go blindly by the industry jargons lying around while making investments. Printers need to make sure that they are investing in right technology that lies in sync with their future plans to expand their business and be in the market. Investments in software like web to print, variable data printing, print MIS etc require print vendors that have good knowledge about how printing businesses work and referenceable clientele to get information about their work and support services.
Why several print service providers are lacking customer related innovations?
Print service providers are lacking innovation because they are fusillade by lot of technological solutions that directly convey end-result of getting more customers, 24*7 web presence, interacting with customers, targeting B2B and B2C accounts for customer retention and so on, so forth. The right way of approaching any software vendor or vice versa is to discuss problems or future plans that your customers or businesses are facing. Problems that are directly related to customer can be tackled and be solved with the help of respective technology.
Small innovations, Big Difference
Customer related print innovations need not to be very large but sometimes small details or changes can delight them. One of the example of this adding comments or quick notes box in web to print portal where customers can put any additional requirements, if they have. This may not be termed as an innovation but from a customers’ point of view it has made a lot of difference in interacting with respective vendor. The end result of the same can be decrease in time and efforts for getting in touch with customers or reduced in printing error or notifying about any special requirement that a customer have. Printers need to take small steps in creating a sustainable business that can lead to incremental changes in their business and success of print innovations.