Kuldeep Malhotra, Dy. Managing Director, Sales & OP marketing Division, Konica Minolta

A veteran with more than 38 years of experience in the Indian printing industry, Mr. Kuldeep Malhotra is the Dy. Managing Director, Sales & OP marketing Division, Konica Minolta. He was previously associated with leading companies in the IT industry for over 30 years in senior leadership roles. Throughout his career, Mr. Malhotra has worked across several key business functions such as Sales, Business Operations, Marketing, Finance, Channel Management, and Business Planning. He has combined this extensive expertise with a sharp business intellect to drive strong year-on-year turnover growth for Konica Minolta Business Solutions India Pvt Ltd.

 

The global pandemic has literally acted as a ‘survival test’ for businesses and the world in general. People had no idea how things would change overnight, and adapting to this transition will become a necessity. The story of print players is no different!

In the wake of COVID-19, it became essential for print businesses to closely look at their existing processes and revamp the areas that called for quick reshaping. For instance, they had to start refocusing on their operations in terms of site-level (reduced staff due to social distancing and lockdowns) and ordering mechanism (customer orders – from physical to digital).

One of the top trends witnessed during this period was digital printing. Many players in this domain started introducing digital printers while also switching their operations from offline to online. Here are some of the print trends that we came across during the pandemic:

Touchless Technologies

COVID-19 made social distancing a critical practice for everyone to follow. In fact, it was the only possible way to contain the virus transmission. As a result, print players began investing in touchless advancements like biometrics or smart-card authentication, enabling users to give print commands and get the work done without even touching the device. The pandemic is here to stay and it is thus envisioned that these technologies will only evolve in the times to come, making the overall printing experience more effective and easier for everyone.

Integrated Collaboration

Several companies have already made work from home (WFH) permanent for their employees. It means mastering collaboration tools and platforms is more important than ever now – something that businesses need to adopt on both ends, i.e., office and home. This is what has created fresh opportunities for MPS providers to increase their productivity levels while also becoming cost-efficient at every point possible. These solutions are also crucial for businesses to ensure end-to-end customer interaction and engagement when it comes to addressing routine queries and spreading awareness around the new developments of a brand.

Cloud-enabled digital workflow solutions

After the pandemic hit the world, it has become even more important for print businesses to eliminate paper-based processes and adopt digital replacements. This change has created space for more innovations like multi-function printers (MFPs) that allow users to perform document capture tasks more efficiently while automating their existing workflows and making functions more seamless than ever. However, as the world goes digital, print players must also ensure robust security to their customers owing to the ever-evolving threat landscape and malicious actors that are always on the lookout for data breach.

Focus on sustainability design

With growing awareness and consciousness around the environment, manufacturers are focusing on reshaping their operations and making products that are sustainable and not harmful for the nature. And this philosophy will be seen across the brand lifecycle, be it creating new products, packing them or delivering them.

The world has already witnessed so many disasters, including forest fires in Australia, flooding in Maharashtra, winter storms in Texas and much more. It’s high time for brands and businesses to rethink and re-strategize their working and manufacturing operations to ensure highest sustainability across all levels. It is a much-needed step and we all must come together to address this global issue.

Move towards organized retail

The labels and packaging industry is growing like never before. Thanks to rapid expansion of organized retail, and other drivers like rising exports and e-commerce sector. We have also seen massive transformations in consumer behaviour during the pandemic as people were stuck at home and thus shopping and working online. In line with this change, people are now demanding brands to be much more than just selling quality products. They want brands to be secure, eco-friendly, and deliver seamless user experiences.

It is believed that products and services in the future will not only be in sync with stated preferences but also behaviour. As a result, brands must optimize their packaging strategies to meet these evolving customer expectations, and look forward to keeping them engaged with personalized and innovative packaging. In a nutshell, ‘packvertising’ will work wonders in this new era and all businesses must adapt to this concept. And digital printers are going to play a pivotal role here.

Role of motion design

In the wake of digital innovations, having static graphics as part of a brand’s visual assets won’t cut it. Leaders must realize that consumer touchpoints are increasingly becoming digital, which calls for an innovative design language – motion graphics and animations. For instance, several brands have already started deploying animated logos.

Moreover, motion isn’t limited to apps or websites. In fact, we are seeing brands incorporating AR in their design strategies. In terms of packaging, brands are expected to use QR codes labelled on their products so that consumers can scan that and experience more engagement around the brand story.

In closing

While one might be thinking that COVID-19 is the worst thing that can happen to humanity, several print businesses are considering it a newfound opportunity to innovate and grow like never before. Although digital printing is just a start of a new era in this ecosystem, the future of printing is likely to be hybrid, where businesses must focus on paper printing as well as digital servicing. After all, nothing can replace the importance of touch and feel!

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