New research conducted by NAPCO Research and commissioned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) evaluates the value and transformational influence of digital printing (i.e., inkjet and toner-based electrophotography) for retailers, including the ways they’re using digital printing, challenges faced in adoption, future interest, and level of understanding of programs.
The research shows that retailers are leveraging digital printing in multiple stages during the buying journey, with more than 80 percent using it for direct mail, and between 62 percent and 79 percent using it for promotional products, packaging and signage. Three-quarters of respondents say they have a very good or excellent understanding of the ways in which they can use digital printing.
The chief benefits retailers cited from their use of digital printing include increased customer engagement, cited by 49 percent of respondents; more effective marketing campaigns (i.e., increased return on investment vs. traditional print campaigns) and increased brand awareness, cited by 47 percent of respondents; and easier in-store signage change, cited by 31 percent of respondents.
Conversely, the biggest challenges retailers have faced in deploying digital print programs are finding the right partners and identifying the right programs to implement, both identified by 53 percent of respondents. To overcome the challenges associated with the use of digital printing, retailers are attending events to learn more about the technology (43 percent), teaming with third-party data partners (40 percent), and hiring skilled digital printing staff (38 percent).
Despite the challenges identified with digital printing, there remains a tremendous opportunity for printers offering the technology — with a little incentive for retailers. More than half of retailers (56 percent) said they would be more inclined to increase their use of digital printing technology if service providers offered a trial program at a reduced cost.
Going forward, retailers should educate themselves on how their peers are using digital printing in their organizations. In addition, they should be talking to their printers to understand their digital printing capabilities. Retailers should segment customer data (e.g., purchase history, browsing history, abandoned carts, engagement with other marketing channels, etc.) so that it can be used as part of a personalized digital printing campaign.
Lastly, retailers that are still stuck in an “either or” scenario (either digital print OR online marketing campaigns) must recognize that print and online marketing channels are complementary, not competitive. Digital printing is another tool that retail marketers can use to personalize the customer journey, which is proven to drive results.
For more insights on digital printing and how retailers can use the technology as part of their omnichannel marketing mix, download NAPCO Research and SGIA’s report, Personalization and Digital Printing: Retail Marketers’ Secret Weapon.