According to Hennie Kruger, Head of Commercial Print at Canon South Africa, today’s customer is demanding. Surrounded by always-on digital devices and bombarded by constant alerts, offers and messages, they expect instantaneous interactions with brands. Just as other forms of marketing have become more personalised and sophisticated, even the humble invoice or bank statement is expected to carry a personalised element that goes above and beyond name and address. Inkjet technology provides solutions.

Print and communication service providers (PSP’s) specialising in direct mail and transactional applications have come a long way in the last 10 years. To keep pace in our digital world, they have continuously evolved their services to meet the demands for shorter runs and personalisation.

Thanks to the introduction of and advances in inkjet, these printers are now able to offer single-pass printing, making way for higher margins, less inventory and shorter turnaround times. New inkjet technology is enabling print and communication service providers to enhance their product offering and increase profit margins.

While it is true to say that transactional and direct mail can be more impactful than their electronic alternatives, indiscriminate bulk mailings to unsegmented audiences will not give marketers the return on investment they seek. To achieve maximum impact from print campaigns, personalisation and precise targeting are required. And with 72% of consumers saying that they only engage with personalised messaging, it is clear that it is a key driver for the market.

So how does this affect the print landscape? Historically, PSP’s have relied on two processes to deliver personalised applications. First, static colour content was printed on offset presses to create ‘offset shells’, a printed asset that includes all content apart from the variable data, before re-running them through a digital toner press to add the personalised element. In many cases, however, PSP’s and mailing houses only had offset technology in situ, so the ‘offset shells’ then had to be shipped to a data specialist to digitally print the variable data.

For many years, this two-step print process was the most efficient way to deliver personalised applications but there were downsides to this approach for all parties concerned. It was on these frustrations that the demand for a ‘white paper solution’ was built – to eliminate warehousing costs and wastage, cut turnaround times and enable single pass, personalised printing.

The latest inkjet technology enables print and communication service providers to print a wide range of applications. From direct mail and customer communications to books, magazines and catalogues, PSP’s can expand their application possibilities and add value to their customers.

Another trend for the direct mail and transactional markets is sustainability, which points towards the benefits of short-run inkjet printing as there is no wasted stock or additional delivery costs for shipping the offset shells to a data-specialist.

For a number of reasons, inkjet technology is particularly well-suited to help print service providers adapt their offering to meet the demands of today’s print buyers. Enabling them to take on work that previously may have been out of reach, inkjet opens up a host of new creative opportunities. And with many industry projections pointing towards inkjet being the print technology of the future – offering a reliable, high-level of quality at faster speeds – it is up to us as print experts to demonstrate its value to customers and highlight all the opportunities that are now available with print.

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