Here at The Cannata Report, we love to talk about diversification opportunities, and one often-mentioned opportunity is production print. I could already see some of our readers rolling their eyes and saying, “Not that again,” while reading this. I feel your pain. Admittedly, that’s sometimes my reaction when I see another article from Frank on the topic, or he starts talking up production print on “Fridays with Frank.” Without a doubt, Frank is one of the biggest advocates for production and industrial print in the office technology industry. But perhaps he has a point.
Somebody is listening to Frank, and not to give too much away from our 38th Annual Dealer Survey, which will be published next month, 39% of dealers say they sell production print, while 9% say it’s their No. 1 diversification opportunity. Altogether, 45% identified production print as one of their top three diversification opportunities.
When we write about production print in The Cannata Report, we are intentional about not confusing that with light production, something that has also been confusing for some of the dealers filling out our Survey over the years. As we note in our Survey, we define production print as the marketing of a digital press with a digital front-end, such as a Fiery controller that enables variable data printing, at a minimum.
That said, we view light production as a “gateway drug” to production and industrial print. We firmly believe you’d have a difficult time finding a dealer selling production and industrial printers who didn’t get their start with light production.
If you aren’t already selling production print and are convinced that it’s not for you or your customers, anything your OEMs introduce or we say probably won’t change your mind. We understand the sacrifices necessary to get into production print and that it is not for everyone. But if you are already selling light production printers, perhaps now’s the time to investigate if it makes sense to pump up the volume. You’ve got a lot of options, including your own A3 OEM if you are aligned with Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, or Xerox. And now, there’s Kyocera and Sharp.
Perhaps you’ll get some inspiration from Frank’s article in this issue, where he interviews three dealers who are successfully selling production print. And, if you are pondering whether or not it is prudent to hire a production print specialist, I highly recommend reading contributing editor Noel Ward’s article on the topic. If you want to go further upstream, you might pick up some pointers from contributing writer Mark Vruno’s feature, “Introduction to Industrial Print.”