Should You Make a Purchase at the Next Print Show?

Colin McMahon
Aug 30, 2019

Are you an executive or decision-maker working for an organization that provides printing services? Do you have a plan in place to stay up to date with the ever-changing hardware and software landscape? Are you taking steps to ensure your continued profitability and revenue growth? Remember, your business plan is an on-going, live document that should be reviewed against these criteria on a regular cadence. Print is arguably a more competitive industry than most, as players aren’t just competing with each other but with online print aggregators and online marketing communication solutions. In response to this added competition, as well as continued consolidation of the market, many PSPs have turned to new products to help drive profits.

However, which new products are worthy of investment? And, what hardware will best enable these products? These are the questions that decision-makers must address as they look to the year ahead, on top of assessing maintenance levels, renewing lease agreements, and other factors that can impact the bottom line. With so many variables, updating the business plan for the coming year is an essential step for those at the executive level. Flying blind with no specific set of objectives removes a company’s ability to proactively control their future, leaving them reacting to events as they occur instead of laying the infrastructure to be prepared for market changes.

Every sound business plan begins with knowledge – knowledge of where the industry is heading and at what pace. This includes knowing what major vendors are planning, whether any large mergers or consolidations are on the horizon, and what external factors may be driving the industry in unanticipated directions. With the internet, it is possible to follow all of these developments, but this distanced approach may not be the best one when forming a proactive business plan. While some print organizations sit back and read the headlines, others live them at major trade shows like the upcoming Print 19, PrintingUnited 2019, and the big one: drupa 2020.

Should a Trade Show Affect your Business Plan?

Time and technological innovation have changed the role of trade shows. Shows like drupa now serve as galleries for new and coming technologies. PSPs can gain visibility and direct connections with hopeful vendors who want to sell them new hardware that will fit the needs of their evolving business plans. For print companies seeking to be proactive, these shows offer the chance to engage with the newest equipment that will improve their business today, as well as see what’s on the horizon. Of course, some prospective buyers may decide to hold off on a new digital printing press once they see what’s coming in the next year.

But should they?

Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends has recently collected actionable data concerning tradeshow announcements. Specifically, we sought to analyze whether new product announcements and technology demonstrations actually made it to release within their initial timeframes. The results were surprising and potentially serve as a word of caution for executives considering holding off on purchases for their short-term business plans. To shed light on one data point: over 20% of products revealed as technology demonstrations over the last three drupas were never released commercially, while a higher percentage suffered delays of a year or more.

Exciting Trade Show Floor

While trade shows are exciting, executives should keep their business objectives in mind.

While some companies like HP and Xerox have solid track records when it comes to delivering newly announced hardware on time, others were less reliable. For decision-makers looking to boost profits in the next year, it may be best to go with released (or already announced) hardware to ensure continued growth. A missed release date can lead to cacophony of problems, especially if this planned hardware was a central cog in projected business expansion.

Trade shows can be overwhelming. Remember to use your business plan as your trusted guide and try not to be starstruck by the excitement that technology demos can bring.

For those PSPs interested in knowing more, InfoTrends has prepared a more extensive analysis of this trade show data. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or interest in this topic.

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