Compared to the print industry, Web to Print is still in its infancy, just a child really, so why should it demand any of your future thinking or be built into your business plan? We have all read the articles about the amount of print moving online but if you are not getting any demand from your customers then should you believe what you read?
Marc Prensky coined the term ‘Digital Immigrants’ which he used to describe anyone who was born before the existence of digital technology but who to some extent adopted it later on. We can update this in the even more modern world of the internet and refer to people who were born before the internet but use it now as ‘Web Immigrants’. It is difficult to exactly define the birth of the World Wide Web, it is one of those things that depends on your definition of the term, but most people agree that it is in the very early 1990’s. I expect that means that nearly everyone reading this is a Web Immigrant. In fact nearly all of your customers will fall into this category, a lot of them will not mind doing things in ‘old fashioned’ ways such as in person or on the phone, they have lived through both the pre and post internet age.
In fact I think a person’s preference for how far they have embraced the internet is probably proportional to the percentage of their life that has happened since the 1990’s. Take someone in their early to mid thirties, in the working portion of their life they have always used the internet as a tool for communication, research and more recently purchasing. They are accustomed to the speed at which the internet and technology is changing and appreciate the benefits it offers them. They are still Web Immigrants but we should consider this generation as the Immigrants who were given permanent Internet Visas. They know about the old fashioned ways of doing business, but they prefer to do business instantly and efficiently online.
Now look at that age range again, early to mid thirties (possibly even late thirties), at this time in their careers they will often be in a position to make purchasing decisions and choose suppliers, that includes print! This is the type of customer who is just going to get Web to Print straight away, in fact they will only want to order this way.
If you think it is just a fad, something short lived that will disappear, then you have to think about who is just starting their new careers, who is starting on the career ladder to take over from Web Immigrants. Anyone 20 years and younger is not a Web Immigrant, they are a ‘Web Native’; they have only been alive in the post internet world. There is no old and new fashioned way of doing business for them. There is only the internet way of doing business.
Your customers are changing and if you can’t see that then you need to ask yourself where these Web Immigrants with Internet Visas and shortly the Web Natives are going. If you don’t have a Web to Print system they will not have bothered to contact you, they used the internet to find the printers that help them purchase print the way they want to, online!