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Top 3 Challenges and Opportunities Facing PSPs in 2023

First, give yourself a round of applause. Printers around the globe have had to face multiple once-in-a-generation challenges in the span of a few years. Shutdowns, attracting and retaining employees, sourcing paper and consumables, dealing with higher interest rates, changing postal rates, and service delays — all of these and more made for a demanding business environment. Some of these are out of a print service provider’s (PSPs) direct control, while others can be mitigated with proactive planning, effective resource management, and the right tool sets. Several of these challenges will persist into 2023, so let’s uncover the top three challenges and the opportunities they present. 


1. Pay Attention to the Economy in 2023

Central banks worldwide, including the US Federal Reserve, started increasing interest rates in 2022 and are expected to continue in 2023. Sure, there have been periods of higher interest rates, but the pace of the increases, by 18 times, is unprecedented. For PSPs, these higher rates mainly impact access to loans and increase borrowing costs for new capital for printing and finishing equipment. Many strategists and economists also think that a soft landing is unlikely and that the US Federal Reserve will push the US economy into a mild recession. Since the printing industry correlates closely to the US GDP, any slowdown in the overall economy tends to translate into less spending on printing and fewer print shipments by PSPs.

Supply chain constraints, particularly for sourcing paper, will continue in 2023. The easing of shipping of supply chains will help but not fully counter the actions of industry suppliers that have been decreasing the total supply of printing papers in recent years. Suppliers are routinely converting paper plants into plants that support the growing need for packaging-related substrates. According to Fisher International, the capacity for printing and writing papers shrunk from over 25 million tons per year in 2008 to under 12 million tons per year in 2021, with another 6 - 8% decline forecasted annually.

Amidst all the economic and supply chain uncertainties, PSPs have an opportunity to leverage outsourcing with partners like 4over. Outsourcing allows you to take on more customers and larger jobs without expanding your physical equipment mix or footprint — keeping costs in check. Using a large partner like 4over means you can take advantage of their deep supply chains and economies of scale instead of fighting for the finite number of resources and paper available in the market. Use our article, The Four C’s of In-House vs. Outsourcing, as your practical guide for the four advantages of outsourcing.


2. Watch Your Competition in 2023

Call it the keeping up with Jones’s effect. Your competition is offering more products and services, so you need to increase your offerings to stay relevant and remain competitive. PSPs have been adding equipment to print in colors beyond CMYK with embellishments while also offering signage, labels, and packaging applications. We’ve already mentioned how higher interest rates make adding new equipment and their capabilities less attractive, but there is one other element to expansion — labor. Keeping your employees in a market where there is an opportunity to switch employers, or even professions, is nearly as difficult as recruiting employees into the printing industry. The lack of equipment or employees does not mean you cannot offer high-end products and services. 

Stay competitive by leveraging 4over’s equipment and expertise instead. The smart way to approach portfolio expansion is to work with a partner with those capabilities. 4over are experts at wide format signage, labels, and, more recently, custom packaging at any scale. Work with your customers to develop a comprehensive branding and marketing campaign but outsource the elements you lack the equipment or the inside expertise to produce. Also, don’t overlook the industry training 4over provides to assist in new-hire training and continuing education at the Print 101 site.


3. Upskill to Customization in 2023

Print is far from only written text. Today’s clients demand print that matches their brand, mission, and uniqueness in their marketplace. For higher-end brands, that means more tactile and visual embellishments, but it may be the exact opposite for brands focused on sustainability. Luckily, these types of customization and personalization (using variable data printing) carry a premium in the market and help PSPs with profit margins.

4over has the popular Akuafoil options for enhancements as well as other foil and texturing techniques. Some techniques include tactile embellishments to feel the print, like raised foil and raised spot UV coating treatments or soft-touch suede and silk paper finishes. Other techniques are simply visual, like painted edge cards where the thick edge of the card has its own color. Other techniques can provide a pearlescent look or go au naturel and eco-friendly with the brown kraft paper look. Whether you want to customize the product or the recipient using personalized direct mail, 4over has the manufacturing capabilities to expand the number of customized print products you can offer your customers.

As you start 2023, there are likely outcomes for the economic and business challenges facing the printing industry. This economic cycle forces PSPs to tighten their budgets and use their resources wisely. A great way to do that while still offering your customers a full range of products and services is to talk to your 4over team to stay up-to-date on all the new options.


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