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Self Service - 50 Good Reasons Why It Will Change Your Print Business

August 21st, 2013 - Posted by Jamie Thomson, Managing Director


I have previously blogged about many aspects of self service and how some companies didn’t take up the online challenge and then paid the price. With the pace of change picking up even further in recent months I thought it might be a good idea to put down on paper 50 ways that Web to Print can provide a winning self-service route for your clients. More about that in a short while because you may still need convincing about what this has all got to do with your print business right now?

Well if you are still doubting how this is going to change your business then just take a look at the way retail is changing for one. We all know that the forward thinking retailers will most likely have an online store already with an ever growing percentage of revenue originating via this route. If you look further you will also find more self-service routes creeping into the store itself. I visited John Lewis recently and found that they have now installed self-service order points, where customers can pay for products either in store or for home delivery. This also allows them to check stocks at all branches and organise delivery or collection from a store of their choice. John Lewis plans to double the number of stores featuring these self-service order points in the near future. They are not alone, with nearly 20% of stores already having self-service portals in-store (Digital Store Report 2013) and this is set to rise incredibly quickly. It makes you wonder whether stores in the future will just be a series of online portals with no actual products on view in the shop at all! That would never work – then again, isn’t that Argos!

So how might this affect your print business in 2013 and beyond? It is probably already having a significant impact right now! More and more of us are choosing to source goods online and where possible interact with suppliers via an online portal. The modern marketer or print buyer wants the instant response they are used to in so many other aspects of their business relationships. Whether it is something basic like making the purchase of business stationery and marketing materials much quicker and easier, checking stocks of print items or something much more complex; the likelihood is that buyers will become more and more aware of the self-service choice. I wonder, for instance, how many marketing managers will want to create, proof, edit, refine, test, implement and report on all aspects of their marketing campaigns (whatever the mix of medium) from the comfort of their home or office via a secure portal. Having this type of control enables you to react much quicker with new promotions, pricing, events, services or whatever else you need to send to market. Self service could even give you the ability to AB test and see which promotions or mediums perform best. You don’t have to be a large multi-national company to benefit from the ability to market more effectively, your local takeaway restaurant will find this service equally useful!

Our experience suggests that the print service providers who will benefit from the inevitable growth in self-service will be those that educate and take the message out to their customers and prospects about this 'choice'. Most print businesses will not have the luxury of promoting an online portal to a captive audience in-store. They will no doubt need to engage the client’s interest and demonstrate the potential of their own self-service solution. It is a bit more complex than the purchase of a new kettle in most cases but actually not significantly more complex. It is simply a case of giving the customer the tools so that they have a choice for some documents and campaigns. The successful print companies will be those that are sending out the message to customers and capturing the business before they go elsewhere or before they abandon print for other mediums.

Back to the 50 good reasons I mentioned earlier. For those that are attending the free Solution Selling Print Services Seminar we are holding on 18th September then I will provide a self-service portal where you can order your PDF detailing the 50 points and a few more helpful bits beside. This online demo portal should also be a great aid in taking your message out to prospective clients. For those that can’t make it then by all means email me after the seminar and I will provide you with access to your very own self-service portal where you can experience the simplicity of ordering your materials online.