Human nature is to adapt, overcome, and survive. We can’t help it. It’s what we do as a species. What we do as an industry isn’t all that different. Not that long ago, the general consensus would tell you that printers most certainly cannot work from home.
Well, now we know that it can be done because it has to be done. We’ve figured out ways to stay connected. We’ve worked out the intricacies of keeping people working. Because, again, that’s what we do. We make things happen. We’re printers. We make miracles happen every day with impossible files, half-functioning equipment, and limited resources.
The pandemic didn't change the world by itself
The world didn't change solely because of the pandemic. Some changes were already happening and Covid-19 has only been speeding things up.
If you're being told that lockdowns alone will change the world, it's probably by a consultant who wants to sell their services by feeding your fear.
Have a look at some backing evidence. Below is a graph which shows the e-commerce penetration in the US.
While, for obvious reasons, you see a spike in the last couple of weeks, this trend was already pretty clear for 10 years. The pandemic has only served as an instigator for this trend.
Source: Forbes article about Shopify.
Your customers are clicking, not walking, to find their service providers
The survivalist nature of printers will keep on shining after the smoke clears. Businesses will get back to business. Print volumes will return. The industry will come out the other side, changed for the better.
Change through adversity leads to strength. But what will we have learned? We can do more with less, whether it’s through automation or focus on refining processes. Getting ourselves in front of customers is paramount.
Web to print will need to be approached as an actual storefront for printers, rather than placing your online presence casually.
Customers are clicking, not walking, to find their service providers. A web storefront that provides a smooth, personal, speedy exchange and is integrated with production will build customer loyalty.
We’ve been speculating, projecting, compensating and reevaluating. Truthfully, we’ve needed to be doing this for years. Now that we’ve been forced to dig deep, business models have been revised. Necessity is the mother of invention. Lately we’ve had monumental necessity and we’ve also had equally monumental transition. The things we learned from technology will have helped us get through the things that we can’t control. One certainty is that print always survives.
Will we go back to normal once things are better?
Eventually, a vaccine for this virus will finally come. Let's hope that it will be a reality early in 2021. We’re all very much looking forward to seeing each other at the office, having face to face meetings, and visiting customers onsite and at tradeshows. Yes, we’re even looking forward to commuting again. Maybe just a little, that is.
It’s safe to assume that we won't completely go back to normal. Some things have changed for the better. Working from home has its advantages and could end up more common place. The shift from brick and mortar to web presence will remain prominent. Accurate and efficient processes finished with fully integrated shipping will have to be the standard. We’ll be less hands-on with our customers and with our production.