Interesting Figures from BPIF and BOSS

2017 will be remembered for many reasons, but 2018 has certainly made its impact already. The figures are in from BPIF and BOSS Federation, and they show that print has surpassed the office products industry in terms of its fiscal size.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, but seeing the figures in black and white has been a shock, yet not a surprise.

The UK Office Products Industry in 2015 was factored to be at £15bn compared to the Print Industry being around the £14bn figure. However, the 2017 figures show that whilst the Print Industry has remained at £14bn mark, Office Products has reduced down to £13bn.

So What Does This Mean For Office Products?

The way that people purchase items within companies has changed dramatically. People are more aware of spending their company’s money because of education and targets. There are also now greater controls in place with software such as ERP/SRM which can analyse spend at a granular level to every paperclip.

While some of the nature of office products has changed: paper and pens for keyboards and PCs, Office Product suppliers fought back with diversification. They moved into consumables and services like shredding, coffee, waste and toner for example. It’s a tough market to be in: there is a lot of pressure from smaller, online stores as well as the giants like eBay and Amazon. These juggernauts hit the market hard and now own an estimated 9-10% of that market which will only grow in the coming years. The ease of purchasing and the availability of on demand ordering is attractive to the pressed for time purchaser, particularly in SMEs.

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In comparison, Print has fared better and that’s not me being biased! Globalisation has threatened Print in the UK, particularly pressurising margins. UK printers fought back by embracing digital presses and moving their marketing channels online to appeal to a wider audience. However, the strongest part of their retaliation was to focus on Workflow and integrations.

This would increase their margin by driving down their costs and increase efficiency. Embracing automation has not killed the industry at all: the UK is the world’s 5th largest market in the world for Print and employs 116,000 people around the country.

The UK is the most automated and probably most competitive out of all of the top five markets in the world. It’s a bold statement, but having travelled extensively through Europe and the USA, I can see where automation has originated from.

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Both Industries Are Changing

What we print has changed too. Due to personalisation of printed collateral, the market is growing. The kind of things that you can print is just absolutely mind-blowing if only for the sheer randomness of it!

Personalisation in marketing campaigns too on a B2B or B2C level is also growing. Targeted, relevant and personalised print campaigns see a greater return than those that do not utilise the data that they have. As marketers cotton on to this, printed material will only grow. Maybe print runs will be smaller, but they will be more regular than they have been in the recent past.

So What’s Next?

For those looking for it, there is a great opportunity. Procurement professionals want to have fewer suppliers to manage and Print complements Office Products well. The system automation we mentioned previously can just ‘plug in’ to existing client systems and marketplaces, so suppliers who can offer this are fast in-demand.

Economies of scale offer great value within both markets, and technology opens many new doors both at home and abroad. The modern market is driven by a portal, not just a sales guy with samples and a company car. If you do not have Portal Engagement then you need to catch up or be left behind as this element of client engagement is mandatory within our current market for both Print and Office Products alike. While it is still essential to build and maintain personal relationships, they must now complement a strong online offering and availability to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations.

The Sweet Spot

Having the ability to be a single source supplier is still a huge advantage whether you print/procure your consumables internally or not. There is still a strong market for the “one stop” supplier who can engage at the right level with technology as well as on price. Some of these companies that present as a one stop shop are doing very well. They may be Printers or Office Products, but outsource the other. This is why partnerships are so important, by working together; we can meet the expectation of clients on a grander scale and provide a complete solution.

In conclusion: there is a big opportunity within this market for those who can adapt and embrace this change in purchasing and new technologies available. Resurgence in direct mail will revive interest in print.

We want to give a big thank you to BPIF and BOSS who supplied the market figures for 2016/17, both are great organisations offering essential support and guidance to their members.

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