The Future of Print Industry in 2021 and Beyond

Future of Print Industry in 2021

In 2020, the Global Commercial Printing Market had a value of $411.99 billion. By the end of 2026, it is estimated to value $472.35 billion, with a CAGR of approximately 2.24% in 2021-2026. Five years from now, the printing market is predicted to witness remarkable growth.

The latest analysis reports that the pandemic has profoundly disrupted many global industries, including the print industry of America.

The challenge of operating during the lockdown has affected the hierarchy of operations. While some of the restrictions may recede over time, others could have a long-lasting impact.

In America, 25,000 companies are specialists in commercial printing. It generates approximately $900 billion in revenue annually.

Hence, don’t believe that “printing is dead.” It is a hoax. Advanced print technology has a far-fetched future, embracing innovative media and communication waves that go beyond imagination.

Though print is not much in use, the industry is all set to expand due to privacy issues and oversaturation that digital platforms experience.

So, Where is the Print Industry Heading?

The consensus reveals that significant changes are ahead. Some of the leading printing companies are adapting to innovative ways and adopting digital printing technology for customization.

Here’s how the latest printing technology shall move things forward:

Low to High Growth: Graphics & Publications

Newspaper printing and magazines were the worst hit during the pandemic. The sales stopped because of widespread work-from-home, and readers switched to online channels. Even IKEA stopped publishing catalogs to control the budget – the most critical printing job worldwide.

The graphics industry – PoS (point of sale) and wide-format display were affected by lockdowns as people stopped visiting shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels. Also, commercial printing like newsletters, manuals, and business forms suffered severely. This radical decline in demand saw several service providers shut down.

Post-pandemic, a new and open environment will create better opportunities for companies that managed to survive. Once this happens, there will be fewer instances of low-value printing operations happening. The print industry of America will focus on adding value as well as interest to their products.

Bad Phase to Continue for the Print Substrates

The downfall of graphic industries and the decline in publication jobs will reflect in the market aimed at print substrates. Newsprint, coated/uncoated mechanical and woodfree, have all witnessed falling volumes. Unfortunately, much of this will be permanent.

According to the Smithers report, the consumption of the print substrate was down by 10.4% in 2022 (229.6 million tonnes) compared to the pre-Covid-19 situation in 2019 (256.2 million tonnes).

Packaging film and board volumes will be more resilient, and they will be back to their positive growth by 2025 and after that.

Many pulp and paper companies shut down or even repurposed the existing machines. It is imperative to establish equilibrium in this volatile market. There will be short-term disruptions in the recovered pulp supply. Brand owners and environmental regulations will further disrupt the market over time, maybe over a decade.

But the Good News is that eCommerce is in Full-Swing

To salvage revenue during the pandemic and lockdown, retailers opted for innovative eCommerce and direct-to-consumer options to offer their services. Compared to the pre-pandemic time in 2019, the volume of eCommerce packaging has gone up by 40%. Each purchase requires additional packaging with delivery labels.

As a result, there is an immediate business requirement for eCommerce packages. With advanced print technology, companies can now provide value-added services with variable options for data collection. e-retailers can also add this feature after receiving orders electronically. eCommerce-driven packaging creates personal connections within the sales channels because the usual queues are no longer there.

Another lucrative option is to partner and install printing presses in the distribution center of large eCommerce centers with a valid agreement. However, small e-retailers can adopt an in-house production strategy and invest in a small-scale digital press.

The press manufactures will generate revenue either way and can also offer post-sales support. Thus, enabling users to maximize the benefits of these machines.

New Delivery Models: Virtual Sales & SaaS Connection

From the perspective of machine sales, druppa was a massive casualty. Several attempts were made to reschedule it for 2021. However, most of the major OEMs withdrew, and the organizers had to cancel the schedule. So, the event shall not take place before 2024.

As a result, most OEMs chose to host online events with virtual showcases. They want to publicize the latest products, aligned with the broader trend of providing better support services and moving beyond direct sales of mundane equipment to a concrete solution-based approach. It includes SaaS (Software as a Service) products to all Print Service Providers (PSP).

Fortunately, OEMs have reported positive experiences even though the environment is uncertain and there are budget constraints. Hopefully, these events will provide a better alternative to demonstrate products and a route for building integrated bonds with the machine operators.

Print Industry 2021 and Beyond

Diversification is the Key

The remaining PSPs would also have to adapt to the changing strategies to compensate for the lost business during this pandemic. Some of the print suppliers, instead of manufacturing, are increasingly collaborating with several other rival companies. Others have widened their variety of products/services offerings and handle activities beyond various print companies’ realm.

The Rise of Online Print Orders and Platform Economy

The eCommerce, along with the rampant use of web-to-print solutions, is all set to reshape direct-to-consumer technology trend every ceos must know. Lesser intermediates would be required. By 2030, the world will depend on online specifications, and online ordering shall be the norm for both prints and printed packaging.

As a result, it motivates investment in web-to-print systems and online ordering. With this, print purchase moves towards a platform economy system, which is as segmented as ride-hailing apps. Buyers find it easier to make price and even service comparisons.

Customer loyalty also diminishes, thereby emphasizing services. eCommerce follows a complementary model – shorter orders with great expectation of faster turnaround – such as next-day delivery. It will push the broader adoption of smoother workflows plus efficient digital and automated printing, finishing, and distribution.

Moreover, this would also accelerate the continuing changeover from analog print to digital printing technology in various applications, particularly as the latest inkjet print quality improves.

Packaging is the New Star

Experts believe that Amazon is the driving force behind packaging innovation. Amazon has shown the world how well-designed, printed, and labeled packaging can make all the difference. Some experts say that customizable and high-end packaging with labels and printed tapes on boxes is specifically for the millennials.

Advanced print technology is also fast becoming customizable, just like Amazon, where one can make on-demand things more accessible for customers and never go elsewhere. Packaging innovation opens up a massive opportunity as sales climb continuously.

Inkjet Technology to the Rescue

Inkjet will propel the latest printing technology owing to its price and speed. Inkjet printers have proven to be faster compared to traditional printers. Moreover, these printers can be roll-fed or sheet-fed, which is revolutionary.

There are several noteworthy print innovations, but inkjet retains the most advanced print technology. This evolving digital printing technology can be combined with some of the best ink solutions as well. They are even creating conductive ink and use nano-particles. If this becomes a reality, it could become a game-changing innovation.


Web to print and eCommerce has a certain natural synergy. In 2020, the significant highlight investment was the commitment of Amazon to purchase $400 million worth of inkjet equipment for their Merch line of business. Direct-to-consumer customized printing such as calendars, mugs, and photo products, will see PSP diversifying into many areas, including installation of direct-to-object systems.

The Covid-19 pandemic continue to impact on the printing sectors. It will be interesting to see how the global business landscape changes over another decade for the print industry. But what one truly needs for enterprise volume print solutions is an experienced partner. Enter Radixweb a leading name in tech solutions. With services ranging from eCommerce to fashion to OOH print capabilities Radixweb is the perfect solution for all your printing needs.

So if you too wish to bring the power and panache of print collateral to your enterprise, drop us a line and we would be happy to leverage our expertise to further your business objectives.

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Pratik Mistry is a rare mix of technologist and senior business head at Radixweb. His passion lies is in helping companies to grow revenues by delivering top notch software development services and build value-based partnerships. When not driving high-impact go to market strategies, Pratik loves to try new cuisines and going to the movies.