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GPE 24

15 Feb 2024

The time is now to capitalise on the potential of personalisation and mass customisation

Bernd Zipper

Bernd Zipper, Founder, CEO and Senior Consultant at zipcon consulting, believes personalisation in print isn’t just labelling; it’s a key driver for the printing industry’s growth and prosperity. In this blog, and ahead of his talk at the 2024 Personalisation Experience conference (20th March at RAI Amsterdam, The Netherlands), he explains more…

Personalisation in printing and mass customisation has evolved significantly, not only since last year when the first Personalisation Experience was hosted, but many years before.

Currently, there are many businesses that still believe personalisation is simply labelling or printing a name on an item and sending it to the customer. Yet, it’s so much more than that. Personalisation, individualisation and customisation adds immeasurable value and it has the power to transform printers’ revenues and the printing industry as a whole.

Ultimately, when it comes to personalisation, individualisation and customisation if it’s fun for the customer, they will love it. And if the customer loves it, there’s money to be made. And the more you are able to scale it the more successful will your business model be.

Personalisation is only the first step on the journey of mass customisation

I believe there are four levels that lead from personalisation to full customisation which is the supreme discipline in this field:

  1. People find their name on the product – immediately, it becomes their item. An example of such a product is a named mug, typically found in gift shops and perhaps even gas stations.

  2. The product includes not only the first name of the customer, but maybe also his/her family name/surname. Additionally the customer can also choose between different versions and templates, for example when it comes to different colours of the product. At this stage we’re talking about individualisation.

  3. The more tailor made a product is, the deeper we dive into customisation. Maybe a photo is added to the product, further enhancing it’s value. Or the number of pages or the size is adjusted, depending on what the product is of course.

  4. If the customer is free to create every aspect of a product independently from the offered templates we’ve reached full customisation. Maybe extra information about the product, or the occasion, is included, making it extra special. For example, a bottle of wine with a name and photo printed on it, as well as the end-user’s birthday or anniversary date. But not only this, because with full customisation you are also able to create your own design of the label – AND you can as well choose which wine you want to have in the bottle.

Including these differing levels of personalisation, individualisation and customisation result in a product that is extraordinary – an item that the customer never wants to throw away. Take, for example, a personalised planner, which not only has the customer’s names and photo printed on it, but it includes personal dates (such as birthdays and anniversaries) printed throughout. Perhaps the planner’s print design or colour scheme is personalised too. The item is transformed from simply personalised to truly individualised or even customized. This level of personalisation is a great way to attract and keep customers, as well as generate repeat business.

Maximising the opportunity

So, how can printers capitalise on this new era of personalisation and mass customisation?

Printers across the board are facing increasing levels of pressure on costs, storage space, energy usage, speed to market, customer demand and more. While this is challenging, personalisation and mass customisation – when implemented correctly – can add huge value and has the potential to drive up profit margins.

An example to further solidify this point: personalised envelopes. Currently, for a product such as customised envelopes, some printers are very much in the mindset that high volumes equate to high value. This is because bulk printing is cost-effective and makes use of economies of scale. It’s also why the customer is only able to order a high number of envelopes – say, 1,000. Yet, there are still costs for the printer associated with delivering high volumes.

Instead, the printer could offer the customer the option of ordering around 100 envelopes that are highly personalised/customized, and are therefore higher value, for the same cost? After all, higher value items come with a higher price tag. These envelopes would cost less to produce and print, and as an added bonus, would save on waste.

Now take this concept and apply it to printing businesses that print high volume jobs. Imagine if they added high levels of customisation to those high volume jobs. The added value to the customers, and the profit margins, would be significant. The potential is there.

It’s no secret that AI is the next step for personalisation and the development into the direction of mass customisation. Looking forward, as we continue to navigate this new era of specialised printing, I think AI will be used to make personalisation in print faster and more reliable, while taking productivity to new heights. My session at the Personalisation Experience conference, titled AI Brings “Total Personalisation” in Print, will explore this exciting topic, trends and why the technology is set to impact personalisation in print.

See Bernd Zipper’s session, AI Brings ‘Total Personalisation’ in Print at the Personalisation Experience conference on 20 March, 2024, 14:30 – 15:05 at the RAI Amsterdam, Netherlands..  Visitors will have the opportunity to hear from leading minds and innovators sharing knowledge and experiences, see the latest developments and technology in personalised print solutions and network with those looking to help you grow your business. Register here to visit.

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