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Commentary & Analysis

More Reasons to Focus on Print-to-Mobile

With the exploding growth in e-commerce, the ability to prove print’s value as a primary driver of online activity becomes increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing even faster than e-commerce in general. This makes investment in print-to-mobile technologies a must.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: December 14, 2017

If you’ve been ignoring the data on growth in e-commerce and m-commerce, thinking it’s not relevant to the print business, think again. One of the primary drivers of online shopping is print, and with print under continual pressure to prove its value, we must always look for ways to track how print drives online sales. Print-to-mobile is a big part of that.

The more e-commerce grows, the more important and valuable this tracking becomes. According to eMarketer’s “U.S. E-commerce Performance StatPack 2017”:

  • Nearly 80% of U.S. adults shop online. Nearly 70% buy online.
  • The volume of U.S. digital shoppers is forecast to grow 2.8%. Those who buy online (as opposed to just browsing) is forecast to grow 3.8%.
  • E-commerce will reach 10% of total retail sales in 2018.

With e-commerce continuing to grow, the ability to tie online sales back to a specific print campaign is increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing faster than e-commerce overall. In fact, eMarketer forecasts that by 2020, the volume of m-commerce will grow by 2.75x and reach 7.4% of total retail sales. This is equal to sales on the desktop.

One way to prove print’s value is to embrace technologies like QR Codes (yes, they still work) and augmented reality (AR). Not only is this important due to the rapid growth in m-commerce, but also because the connection between the printed piece and the mobile shopping experience is so direct.

Many printers have avoided AR and more sophisticated QR Code (such as QR Codes to mobile video) applications, thinking they are outside their realm of expertise. They aren’t digital marketers, after all. But offering the link between print and mobile is about more than just offering a service. It’s about proving the value of your primary product line and preserving the business you already have.

So find partners. Invest in in-house skill sets. Investigate solutions for shooting video and deploying mobile campaigns. Talk to your customers about the benefits of proving print’s ROI in driving online revenue and then offer to prove it.

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”



By Joe Webb on Dec 28, 2017

A few comments to bolster the case made by Heidi. E-commerce at just 10% of retail sales sounds like it's low. It's not. Retail sales includes motor vehicles and other big ticket items. Many of those cannot be legally purchased online -- the legal purchase has to be done in person at a dealer. But the searches and price comparisons for autos are done online, and pre-purchase research done online is huge, and might as well be considered part of every purchase. So don't fall into the false assumption that 10% means it's nothing. E-commerce and e-marketing are a part of 60-75% of all retail purchases. Grocery purchases are also a big part of retail sales, and that also pulls down the e-commerce figure. This category is just beginning its e-commerce immersion. Digital shoppers growing at 2.8% and digital buyers at 3.8% also sounds small. Just keep in mind that the US population grows at about 0.8% per year. So these are 3x and 4.5x respectively faster than the growth in population. E-commerce is still growing at 15% a year despite all kinds of naysayers claiming that the high growth rate is because of starting at a low base. That low base is about 17 years ago, and that approximate 15% rate keeps going.


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