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Future of The Print Industry

“IKEA has announced that it will stop publishing its catalog - once the largest print job in the world - after the 2021 edition.”


We are currently living in a time that print is everywhere we see, but how will the print industry change as of the effects of the pandemic?


Since the beginning of the pandemic, the print and the graphics industry have been heavily affected. Wide-format display and point of sale (PoS) printers were very badly impacted by lockdowns as visits to indoor shops, restaurants, malls, and hotels stopped. Packaging and labels have also been affected at least by the first wave of COVID-19. There has been a dop in the use of transit and industrial packaging, though the packaging industry may have recovered slightly from medical-related packaging during the second wave.


Substrate wise, newsprint, coated and uncoated woodfree, and coated and uncoated mechanical have all seen a fall in volumes, much of which will be permanent. Board and packaging film volumes have been more resilient and are forecast to return to positive growth through 2025 and beyond.


Despite the decline in multiple sectors, many retailers have turned to new e-commerce direct-to-consumer service lines during lockdowns to secure their revenue. E-commerce packaging volumes have increased up to 40% compared to 2019, with each purchase requiring additional and personalized packaging and delivery labels. Looking at the data collected with the rise of the packaging industry, it seems there is now a huge demand for customized and specialized packaging dedicated to e-commerce.


E-commerce and the wider use of web-to-print will not just reshape direct-to-consumer sales. There will be less need for intermediates or the conventional sales contact relationship in packaging and print orders in the 2020s. By 2030, online specification and order will be the norm for print and printed packaging.


A complimentary trend from e-commerce is that orders will be shorter, but there will be a greater expectation of fast turnaround—in many instances requiring next-day delivery. This will push the wider adoption of slicker workflows and efficient, automated print, finishing, and distribution.


There are natural synergies between e-commerce and web-to-print. One of the highlight investments of 2020 was Amazon’s commitment to buy $400 million of inkjet equipment for its new Merch business line. In conclusion, the print industry will continue to thrive along with the e-commerce industry and web-to-print may be the key to securing a place in the future print industry.


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