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Print Production Joins New Economy

U.S. firms spent more than $150 billion on commercial printing in 1999. Worldwide, corporations spend nearly 3 percent of revenues on commercial printing, according to the Printing Industries of America, Alexandria, VA.

Despite its scale, few industries are more committed to stability and consistency than commercial printing. Yet even in this traditional environment, it was only a matter of time before the benefits of e-commerce and the Internet were applied to the procurement of print. Print production, an industry consistently defined by quality and customer service, is the latest beneficiary of the Web.

Think about a typical print job.

From the initial request for a quote to the final resolution of payment, inaccuracies and inefficiencies abound. The lack of a common nomenclature, the collection of different individuals and, thus, opinions involved and the imperfect nature of print itself combine to create an atmosphere where inconsistencies and errors are inevitable.

Traditional print procurement is labor- and time-intensive. Project management is difficult at best. Often the printer and buyer dedicate more time to the correction of errors than the creation of an effective product.

E-procurement offers a revolutionary change to print production.

Materials that once could be secured only through the laborious process of project specification, quote request and negotiation, revision management, scheduling and project management, delivery, billing and finally payment, now can be obtained in a centralized, easy-to-use and simplified environment. No longer are handicaps such as the absence of a common language or inconsistent forms of communication in the way.

E-procurement offers commercial printers and buyers a collaboration tool that facilitates a controlled, streamlined environment in which the printing process can be managed and maintained, resulting in increased efficiency and maximized productivity, leading to a higher-quality product delivered faster and with more effect.

And nowhere is the need greater for efficiency and quality than in printing, where marketers’ needs are diverse, extensive and immediate. Online e-procurement allows marketing professionals to deliver with effect and efficiency.

Direct marketers and consumers alike will benefit from this dramatic change. Delays and costly reworking are no longer inevitable, with printing requests being satisfied with greater ease, higher quality and lower costs per piece.

No longer is there any reason not to provide to the consumer the most effective marketing tool.

The ability is there.

By taking advantage of the vast print production network available to the online community, print buyers are able to compare, demand and create like never before.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of printed materials in the digital world has been grossly exaggerated. As direct marketers know, print remains an extremely effective way to reach customers in every industry, in every location.

The need for printed material has grown by about 6 percent per year during the past four years.

From a box of cereal to a new car brochure, printed material is still a much desired and required commodity. By leveraging the benefits of the Web and by using their online collaboration tools, e-procurement providers are enabling both buyers and printers to take advantage of the increased visibility, control and efficiency of the Web to produce higher-quality products with more effect and lower cost. As more printers and print buyers adopt e-business, the nature of print production becomes a simple but effective way to communicate.

What was once a series of tedious, labor-intensive tasks has become a seamless, integrated process.

Marketing professionals are able to deliver a high-quality product in a fraction of the time required for traditional procurement.

Online print procurement provides a collaborative and integrated system that creates a visible, controlled environment in which both the consumer and the provider can benefit tremendously.

Dennis Moore is vice president of marketing and Katy Ransom is public relations specialist at Impresse.com, Sunnyvale, CA, an e-commerce services firm.

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