Sales Director Kelvin Bell gives his thoughts and insights on this year in print

It’s been a blink and you’ll miss it sort of year  – punctuated by the most amazing summer – weather wise of course!

This has been a year of uncertainty within every sector. Whatever your view on Brexit, a lack of management from our government has let us down and cast uncertainty which has rippled across all areas. Even at Vpress, we saw a slow start to the year in new business, but things still kicked into gear for us after the summer holidays when the flip flops and sunglasses had been packed away. As people needed to move forward in our industry, we had some amazing wins and made new partners, some of which will come to light in the New Year.

While no one likes a month by month detail of the year, I will stick to some of the highlights of our year, and insights for the next.

Playing Barman at The Print Show

Although I personally feel that large “Print Shows” are on the wane, we had a great event at The Print Show, exhibiting at the NEC. We had a lot to show at this event, offering bottles of beer, magnetic selfies and calendars that could be personalised from a mobile phone.

It was a radical move to have a digital press with us on the stand, and it did cause a bit of a stir! (A Web2Print company with a press! Luckily, we didn’t have to get the smelling salts out!) We would like to take this moment to give thanks to our partners (Antalis and Smart Print) for helping us out.

Our stand was mobbed thanks to the beer, and we had to bring up more team members from Vpress HQ in Cheltenham to assist. While we did have the traffic to our stand, it was a little disappointing to see those around us did not. It’s not enough to simply just turn up and hope for visitors. The concept of ‘a beer with your name on it’ is one that has a strong pull. Following on from the show, some of our competitors have tried this too and we applaud them for getting involved.

Vpress on the Road

We have been saying for a long time that Print Shows appear to be on the decline and the open days that we held in 2018 showed that small and intimate can sometimes be a lot more informative and productive.

So next year, we’re packing our banners and suitcases and getting out on the road again. We will support our customers by having open days which has worked really well over this year – which started with Precision Printing in Dagenham, we moved what seemed like all up and down the country!

You don’t become the top and only Web2Print Supplier in Print Week’s Top 25 Suppliers by being a keyboard warrior. We support our customers. We work hard to ensure our customers are busy and supported throughout the year.

Networking still appears to be the number one way to get out there and spread the good word – our suits have been in and out of the dry cleaners this season. Industry bodies such as the IPIA have had some great events this year with even better to come next year. If you do nothing else to put your company on the map, the one thing I would suggest to do is reach out to the IPIA.

Is Print Still Strong and Stable?

While our friends at the BPIF tell us that print is strong and stable at £14Bn; the Office Products industry is being decimated within Europe with the UK market down to £13Bn from £15Bn just two years ago (BOSS).

From these figures alone, we can surmise there are fewer printers chasing the same amount of work within the market. Office product companies, who previously had not looked at print as a commodity, now seek to enter the market. This is because the margins in managing print are significantly higher than most other lines they offer.

There are still great opportunities in the print market, if you can’t see it, contact us to find out.

Print Buyers Continue to Evolve

The online market is strong and continues to grow. Procurement and Marketing solution delivery is now sought after by the majority of medium and large companies (Deloitte 2018) this means PSP (Print Service Providers) can engage directly and efficiently with clients, getting paid quickly and without invoicing (again contact us if you want an introduction to this) – whoever owns the ordering gateway, owns the relationship!

We Continue to Evolve

Vpress has continued to grow both as a business and with our technology solutions. You will see some great new features and modules being released early 2019.

One thing you will notice is that we are now offering API integration into MIS platforms and will add RFQ in the coming weeks allowing Web2Print to cater for ANY print job with an instant price.

The addition of Craig Smith into to the Vpress team has already been a good win for us as he has years of experience in the MIS sector and we and our customers are doing well in keeping him busy!

This year also saw us go live with the world’s largest online ordering portal for Print which was delivered on time in six months, on budget and launched without issue globally. (The previous supplier took two years and delivered nothing).

B2C has been “topical” this year although very little who make an announcement about it actually make any money. B2C is an incredibly tough market as it’s not just about setting up an attractive website with online ordering and Web2Print capabilities. It’s also about having the technical and digital marketing capacity to promote your site and get those orders in.

It should be a careful consideration: if you do take an off the shelf B2C storefront, while it is easier, it can limit you going forward. Our Elements module has continued to help print ordering offer customers a flexible solution.

So What is Ahead for Print?

Predictions are always hard and never more so than for 2019 – post Brexit we have to focus on stability. The UK does automation and solution delivery very well and this must continue to make us all leaner and meaner for winning new work.

Helping others (almost) costs nothing and networking is a great place to discuss skill sets and collaborate. The trade bodies have to support this to help businesses succeed; no one is addressing change management!

While we will have to see how things fall in European trading, there is no harm in looking elsewhere – think about “Blue Ocean Strategy”. We have several customers in the UK trading in the USA and beyond, technology facilitates this!

Overall, I predict when I write this in a years’ time (feels like six months since the last one) that the year will have been not as hot, tougher than expected but with rewarding fruits as things settled down and people embrace change which is not always a bad thing!

Now the Sales Part!

If you have not spoken to us at Vpress yet, do so if only to see where you and we stand in the market and what we can offer. If you have, look again at Elements and if you use someone else’s Web2Print solution then come to us to:

1. Save cost
2. Obtain an upgrade – Vpress is the only independent, mature, debt-free Web2Print partner with UK Development

We wish you a very Merry Christmas, Joyful Twixmass and Happy New Year from all at Vpress.

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