The Internet speeds up our communication and makes information available more quickly and easier to compare. The service providers and technology suppliers in the Print & Packaging Community are using this connectivity to benefit their customers. Digital prepress, computer-to-plate processes, web-to-print offerings and the increasing interaction of brand owners with their digitally networked end customers in the design of products, packaging and campaigns are evidence of how open the community is to the new digitally networked process worlds.
In order to maintain contact with connected customers, it is important to use their familiar social media channels, to involve them in innovation projects and creative processes via crowdsourcing, and to involve them in decision-making processes via voting. Participatory connectivity, which sometimes seems playful, is not only considered an effective means of brand loyalty in the business-to-consumer (B2C) segment, but is also gaining in importance in the B2B sector when it comes to the concrete implementation of cooperative innovation projects. In the packaging market in particular, the development of new, sustainable material concepts today often runs in sync with packaging design and the development of industrial processing and recycling methods. Connectivity is the key to efficiently implementing such organizationally complex projects.
Connectivity is also changing the relationship between print service providers and their customers. The latter are constantly online, used to convenient online ordering processes, impatient and demanding. If they don't find what they are looking for immediately, they switch to another provider's platform. They compare prices and offers, want to implement creative ideas spontaneously and without waiting times if possible, but at the same time demand high sustainability standards.
To cater for all this, print service providers are establishing efficient web-to-print platforms or at least interactive web stores. In order to compete successfully in an increasingly online environment, they need a production base that is as flexible as possible. For Connected Customers, the nearest print shop with a broad machine base and every conceivable substrate and finishing option is just a mouse click away. If they don't find what they're looking for straight away - or are dissatisfied with pricing and delivery times - they'll look elsewhere. To meet these demands, print service providers also need to network, build partnerships and coordinate investments in their network so that their offerings of modern print & packaging solutions complement each other perfectly. This order processing, which is distributed among several partners, requires them to be digitally networked at all times in terms of efficient order development, including logistics and billing for the services provided in each case. Since many customers divide larger jobs into several batches which they call up as required, it is all the more helpful for such partner networks that modern print and paper processing technology reads in stored parameters of such recurring jobs at the touch of a button and increasingly automates press settings during job changes. In this way, digitally networked Print & Packaging Technologies ensure reproducible quality at all times.
Connectivity has another important level for the Print & Packaging Community: Since Connected Customers are also online on the move via smartphone or tablet, it is important to create convergence between the digital cosmos and reality. This is feasible in the form of printed QR codes or printed electronics. The transitions between the Internet and reality are blurring. The packaging alone no longer has to convey all the product information, but can link to additional multimedia information stored virtually. This opens up space for new interactive campaigns and design approaches. For customers who are always on, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing consumer habits. Print works at the interfaces and can pick up on this trend just as proactively as the packaging community. However, this presupposes that it understands the Connected Customer for what it is: a great opportunity.